NBA 2K24 Review: Gameplay Videos, Features and Impressions

NBA 2K24 Review: Gameplay Videos, Features and Impressions

2K Sports

NBA 2K24 has the potential to be a championship-banner moment for the storied series.

The latest release marks the 25th anniversary and boasts Kobe Bryant on the cover, with developer Visual Concepts and 2K Sports putting the focus directly on what matters most—gameplay.

Crossplay, fresh animation implementation, sweeping on-court tweaks and a robust list of upgrades to the game’s many modes appear to promise what could fittingly be the best installment yet.

But as fans know, nothing is a guarantee until that can’t-miss prospect gets on the court and compared to the greats and the same applies to NBA 2K24.

Gameplay

Full stop—NBA 2K24 might be the best-feeling basketball game in modern times.

That’s not a statement written lightly, but the combination of animation upgrades and sweeping tweaks to gameplay inside and out, A.I. and even substitution behavior creates the impression.

First up is the aptly named ProPLAY system, which shuns the traditional motion capture that has fueled animations in past games, sometimes leading to a repetitive, robotic feel. In its place are more fluid animations generated on the fly that can be exclusive to certain superstars.

And indeed, there’s a staggering change through this implementation alone. It helps superstars feel more unique and has a ripple effect at every angle of the court, replicating real on-television ball in a way we haven’t seen in the past.

It helps that shot timing gets a change. It’s less timing-based and more specific because players can set their own release point.

This is a good time to mention the gameplay remains a deep-as-you-want experience, as the tougher shot meters aren’t toggled on in easier difficulties. Shot separation is also something that benefits greatly here, with the right moves rewarding cleaner looks than in the past.

Slashing to the hoop benefits this year as well, with layup timing a default feature and understandably varying in difficulty based on easy attempts vs. floaters, reverses, etc. Ditto for dunks, with players funnily able to control rim hangs on two-handers and metered dunks available on dunks in traffic.

Interior offense gets new life too because players can now turn an offensive rebound right into a shot attempt on the fly, adding another layer of strategy that actually happens all the time.

Which isn’t to say interior defense suffers. This year, it feels like defenders in the paint slide less, making it easier to get to necessary spots.

In general, it’s a nice swooping upgrade to paint play, as the series takes another step forward in emphasizing actual height and weight differences between players fighting over rebounds and positioning.

Those worried about how handles feel this year can rest easy, as the tweaked dribble combo controls feel great. Flicking the right stick does normal dribble moves, while holding sprint and doing the same does aggressive moves.

Maybe the biggest, yet understated change to the flow of gameplay is the rework to the adrenaline system. Last year, running out of adrenaline slowed a ball-handler’s speed. Now it nukes the player’s shooting ability.

It’s a very fun shift because it rewards good defense if a player is able to clamp a talented ball-handler. But it also makes for more strategic offensive gameplay instead of just spamming dribble move after dribble move.

Speaking of more strategic gameplay, the Takeover ability isn’t locked anymore. Instead, once players fill the bar, they can choose which Takeover ability to activate, dramatically boosting a specific area—handy for say, a key defensive possession or when a team needs a big shot.

New substitution behavior that doesn’t just swap out five players at once makes for a more realistic, fun experience against A.I. opponents, too. It appears to favor keeping scorers on the court at all times, leading to a notable lack of major scoring droughts from the computer to exploit.

Given the work on accessibility to all levels of players over the years, NBA 2K24 is an impressive feat of gameplay. It’s got the usual pick-up-and-play potential for fun and depth that creates serious skill gaps competitively, too.

Most importantly, it just feels great, with the flow of the game markedly improved, less robotic happenings and a bigger emphasis on strategic decisions. There is more control than ever at a player’s fingertips, more fast breaks, notably better off-ball A.I. and sheer fun happening than perhaps we’ve seen to date.

Graphics and Presentation

It’s not a jab to suggest that on first pass, NBA 2K24 doesn’t look all that different from last year’s entry.

After all, there’s still a stunning bit of photorealism going on in all respects, be it superstar likeness, emoting, physics features, shadows and lighting, plus the dense immersion of the stadiums and broadcast-styled camera angles and presentation (like those sweet, sweet cinematic camera angles on dunks and greened deep shots). The usual on-point crowd and announcer reactions and banter, be it from those in the booth or even overheard on the courts, again enhances the experience.

Putting this game up side-by-side to last year’s wouldn’t do much for the new release, but it still looks great. The era-specific work, including the implementation of the LeBron Era, is again what shines the most. It’s a love letter of sorts to the sport of basketball to see how faithfully recreated some of the era-specific greats are. And that goes doubly for the in-depth contextual chatter of the commentators during the Kobe-specific moments.

It should be noted that the ProPLAY implementation really helps with the immersion factor too. Little things that weren’t a mo-cap priority such as inbound passes now look unique, or at least varied.

This year’s game also expands the editing feature to full-blown replays, letting players put different editorial touches on replays sure to make discourse around the game on social media platforms even more interesting.

Given how ahead of the curve the series was, an entry was always going to lose some momentum in advancements. But when the presentation package is this strong, it only makes sense that the work went into making sure the rest of the game was up to snuff.

MyTEAM, Features and More

Given the presence of the legendary Bryant on the cover, it’s only fitting the MAMBA MOMENTS mode highlights the package this year.

The new arrival isn’t all that different from similar modes spotlighting the likes of Michael Jordan in the past. But it’s still an amazing time to work through some of Bryant’s biggest moments, though omissions such as the 81-point classic register as strange.

A highlight of the package is once again the historically accurate MyNBA eras, including the mentioned new LeBron era. It’s a treat to hop in and experience the actual evolution of the sport itself, never mind the presentation.

A streamlined version of this, dubbed MyNBA Lite, makes it easier to get in the action faster too. This again walks the new vs. experienced tightrope very well, as cutting out the in-depth stuff in favor of just playing ball with preferred rosters is a nice option to have.

MyCAREER, mercifully, features a faster ramping up of the action and less filler in the form of cutscenes and side interactions. Getting on the court in meaningful games faster than in the past is much appreciated, to say the least.

A new key games feature makes sure players understand the pivotal moments and where simming might be applicable.

This year’s city is a new beachfront city complete with sidequests, stores, modes of transport and the side streetball courts where players grind it out in pickup action while other players watch.

Fresh this year is a Starting 5 mode for one-on-one action in which players pick teams and have the rest automatically filled out.

Narratively, the experience in the city whittles things down to a RISE vs ELITE faction showdown. Both have aestically unique home bases and while it’s fun to pick a side and actually have an impact on the outcomes, it’s more important to stress that each team actually comes with gameplay benefits worth considering.

MyTEAM, capable of serving as its own game entirely, returns and promises upgrades in important ways.

One is a new salary cap mode, which features three two-week sessions per season in which the actual salary cost of player cards in a lineup fluctuates to keep things feeling fresh. It’s a nice way to juggle the meta consistently instead of always facing off against the same cards over and over.

What might interest would-be players more is that the game promises increased experience earn rates and a revamp of the experience system as a whole. While it’s nice to earn experience all the time for playing how a player would prefer, it feels like something that should have been implemented long ago and still doesn’t prevent the mode from feeling like a major grind.

By far the most controversial change is the removal of the Auction House in favor of a new player market. On one hand, being able to save up and buy certain cards through gameplay at set costs makes sense. But on the other, it’s hard not to point out that players can just use real money to scoop up the rarest cards as soon as they release.

That undeniable pressure of microtransactions lurking in every shadow permeates the entire game. There are seasons battle passes, with every six weeks a new season. This year features a new unified seasonal progression between MyCAREER and MyTEAM where gamers can earn rewards for free, while gamers also have the option to purchase the Pro and Hall of Fame season passes that include more rewards.

Elsewhere, performance is good as always despite what a few viral clips of glitches might show. There are droves of nice options in the menus again, including a new highlight that is being able to hide the custom assets created by other players.

Conclusion

NBA 2K24 is a fascinating release and moment for the series.

It represents the heights of gameplay other sports games strive for but don’t meet. This is by far the best on-court action in a decade-plus thanks to stellar presentation, proper accessibility levels for all skill ranges and a refreshingly accurate representation of individual superstars.

But it also represents the heights of microtransactions in games, pushing beyond an already-aggressive suite of options by implementing different tiers of battle passes and creating an unyielding sense of pressure to pay up to skip a grind.

That give-and-take should make the reception equally fascinating. At what it does best, NBA 2K24 has no equal in the sports space. Whether that’s enough to outweigh the drawbacks will prove a hot topic.

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