NBA 2K21 Review – New Polish On The Court

Any athlete will attest that you are able to do all the correct issues within the low season and nonetheless come up brief. Visual Concepts clearly labored to up its recreation with NBA 2K21 and ship higher outcomes. However, this wasn’t a typical low season for Visual Concepts; the staff wasn’t simply making an attempt to take NBA 2K to the subsequent degree, it was making an attempt to take it to the subsequent technology, being the primary sports activities recreation to go all-in on the brand new console energy of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The result’s a valiant effort, stuffed with nice new options and spectacular visible leaps, but it surely’s clear there’s nonetheless some seasoning and changes to the playbook that should be carried out. 

Visual Concepts launched a model of NBA 2K21 again in early September (for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia), however this next-gen version was constructed from the bottom as much as harness the facility of the brand new {hardware}. Some issues from the sooner launch carry over, like the majority of Junior’s MyProfession story, but it surely additionally has new modes, in addition to essential tweaks similar to smoother motion and extra reasonable contact. Most importantly, the lengthy load instances which have plagued the sequence are a factor of the previous. Games load in seconds, getting you proper into the motion. The solely hiccups I seen had been when my participant went to the bench for a substitution and between intervals; generally your participant simply stands stoically for just a few moments throughout this transition. It breaks the immersion since every thing else features similar to you’re at an precise area, together with a vigorous crowd and workers performing varied duties.

Minor points apart, Visual Concepts continues to ship stellar gameplay that appears and feels straight out of the NBA. The new-gen tech has solely added extra authenticity and selection to the on-court motion. Being in a position to change up the velocity of your dribble and size-up strikes makes ball-handling really feel nice and offers you tons of choices. I liked having the ability to use hesitations, escapes, stepbacks, and crosses to throw off defenders, and this new dribbling rapidly grew to become my favourite improve. Passes additionally look extra reasonable, particularly alley-oops off the glass to teammates. A brand new lead-pass mechanic, alongside the addition of bounce-touch passes, makes it so that you at all times have different methods conditions can play out. 

As with previous entries, sure gamers have signature strikes, and Visual Concepts has solely added to the realism with new expertise like LeBron James’ suspended dribble. It’s cool that gamers transfer or play in another way relying on who they’re, their place, and the way they’re constructed. I used to be consistently wowed by the extent of element in each participant mannequin, from their likeness to their real-world counterparts proper all the way down to their facial expressions and dripping sweat in intense moments. NBA 2K21 is well one of many best-looking video games on the brand new consoles. 

Another excessive level is the addition of The W, which lets you can create your personal WNBA MyParticipant for the primary time and construct your personal path to stardom by taking part in for one of many league’s 12 groups. The degree of element on this mode is nice, as I liked studying extra concerning the league and its gamers from the announcers and video games really feel totally different from the NBA with a extra technical and team-centric type. The W doesn’t have a cinematic expertise like the principle MyParticipant mode, however you do get to construct up your reputation, wealth, staff chemistry, and development by selecting between various things to do in your time off, like volunteering for a youth program or streaming NBA 2K21. 

You should fill within the blanks to your personal story by these small selections, interacting with different gamers by way of textual content messages, and your social-media feed, however the crux is targeted on being a visual function mannequin and bringing different younger ladies into the game, which I feel is incredible. I simply want it had its personal self-contained storyline, and I’m disenchanted that your feminine MyParticipant can’t be introduced into the principle multiplayer area: The City. You can play with different gamers in The W Online, however taking part in in a small fitness center isn’t the identical expertise as having tons of outlets and courts at your disposal. 


The City is an evolution from The Neighborhood, the place gamers come collectively in a multiplayer area with their created MyGamers to play pick-up video games and store. The City is a giant attraction, and unique for this next-gen model of the sport. It’s clear Visual Concepts has some large concepts for it, as you get assigned an alliance and assist construct up its popularity by collaborating in occasions. I get pleasure from strolling by this large metropolis, stumbling upon particular distributors promoting distinctive attire, and unlocking particular challenges like teaming up with cowl star Damian Lillard to tackle legends Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter. You even get to spin a wheel for a day by day log-in bonus that offers you cool freebies. Most lately, I scored a free tattoo, which made me glad as a result of spending VC (which you’ll be able to earn in-game or spend actual cash to amass) isn’t my factor, particularly for beauty gadgets. Unfortunately, in the event you’re like me, you’re more than likely going to be grinding to get something cool or hoping your luck serves you properly whenever you spin the wheel – although I’ve but to get a high-tier merchandise that approach. Good gadgets are very costly, and grinding for them requires an unreasonable quantity of endurance; it looks like a blatant effort to drive gamers towards microtransactions, which feels gross. 

The City is a cool concept, however additionally it is the place the largest issues floor. To enter The City, it’s essential to first get your rank up by grinding out wins in Rookieville. This is depressing, as you’re in a sequestered space the place you possibly can’t entry any a part of The City and should simply watch for video games and play with others. Losses don’t do a lot to your rank, so each recreation feels such as you’re combating for entry to the present. I encountered many gamers who had clearly purchased VC to spice up their character’s stats and put themselves at one of the best benefit – which makes it even tougher to win in the event you don’t pay actual cash your self. 

As I walked round Rookieville, I hardly ever got here throughout a participant who wasn’t rated 86 or larger. Badges solely additional complicate this, as a result of badges can allow you to make unrealistic photographs or keep away from straightforward steals. This has made me hate on-line play, as a result of the video games don’t unfold pretty or realistically. They’re simply not enjoyable. Visual Concepts wants to determine a greater technique to reward teamwork, as a result of gamers don’t wish to move the ball and simply shoot all day lengthy with these modifiers. It’s changing into extra of an issue, particularly as on-line play continues to be a spotlight. 

Outside of those frustrations, you possibly can nonetheless count on the opposite primary modes and a few tweaks. My NBA is now an all-encompassing franchise mode, combining MyGM, MyLeague, and MyLeague Online. It provides you extra customization choices than ever earlier than, from toggling sure league guidelines to bypassing among the annoying role-playing components. MyGM remains to be in want of a whole overhaul, even when I do admire the revamped growth/bust system and extra variation in participant potentials. I additionally loved that there are some little variations from the old-gen model, similar to a brand new path in Junior’s MyParticipant story, the place you possibly can be a part of the G-League and brush shoulders with some acquainted gamers from the sequence’ fiction. 

NBA 2K21’s full-team on-court motion performs one of the best it ever has, and the graphical leap is spectacular besides, but it surely nonetheless comes up brief in some key areas. Visual Concepts nonetheless hasn’t found out an effective way to raise its on-line play, and microtransactions proceed to destroy what ought to be a enjoyable a part of the expertise. I like creating specular performs and the fun of sinking a buzzer-beating three, however the second I stroll into the net area, that feeling evaporates. It turns into concerning the cash, not concerning the love of the sport. 

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