NBA 2K21 has made the jump to next-gen hardware, but do the PS5 and Xbox Series versions improve the game significantly?
With the next-generation consoles releasing in November and the NBA season set to begin in December, fans are wondering when or if they should hop into NBA 2K21. The game was released long before the PS5 and Xbox Series X came out.
NBA 2K21 now has a next-gen release that optimizes the experience and improves upon the backward compatibility version fans have been playing. Let’s now take a look at five reasons the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 matters, and five why it ultimately doesn’t.
10 Doesn’t: Halftime Show Sucks
Sports games have long had this problem where the halftime presentations are not great and often are considered the worst part of the entire game-playing experience. The last sports game to nail this was the NFL 2K franchise, which to this day has the best halftime sports presentation in any video game.
The next-gen version of NBA 2K21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X does nothing to change or improve this issue. Players will have to simply hope that this criticism is taken to heart and has an effect on next year’s installment.
9 Matters: Shooting Feels Balanced
NBA 2K has ascended over the last decade to be the premier professional basketball simulation in gaming despite the lack of exclusive development rights. It has left NBA Live in the dust, but just because it has become successful doesn’t mean it is without its own mistakes.
The player community complained that shooting in NBA 2K21 was overly complicated and hard. Though those complaints are up for debate, 2K heard their audience loud and clear and the next-gen versions of the game feature much more balanced and easily communicated shooting mechanics.
8 Doesn’t: No Online WNBA
The implementation of the WNBA into NBA 2K is amazing and helps shed light on the talented female superstars who often get overlooked or underappreciated. The next-gen version has a WNBA MyCareer option and brings continuous improvements to its overall implementation.
However, in a real head-scratcher of a move, players can’t play online WNBA games, and their only option is to compete with friends via local couch multiplayer in the comfort of their own homes. Seems like an oversight at the very least.
7 Matters: Speed & Weight
One of the hardest things to communicate about a video game is how it feels to play. There’s no substitute for holding the controller in your hands and experiencing the feedback a game provides. It seems that the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 does a great job at communicating the difference in weight and speed of players.
Each athlete runs, jumps, and handles the ball differently, which helps add to the level of depth and strategy whenever players step out onto the court controlling their favorite player or team.
6 Doesn’t: AI Teammates
A big question leveraged at next-gen consoles is where people will see the jump in technology when graphical and visual fidelity can only go so far. Some argue that the added power will provide avenues for developers to take A.I. or artificial intelligence to the next level.
That still seems years away as early previews of NBA 2K21 on next-gen are coming away with the same sentiments towards A.I. teammates. They make the same dumb decisions they have always made and can ruin the overall gameplay experience.
5 Matters: Graphics
Now, though the renders in the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 can be somewhat inconsistent, that doesn’t mean they’re not awe-inspiring when they are nailed. From the players to their uniforms, the commitment to detail is prevalent and the visual fidelity allows you to see the very materials that make up these objects.
Sweat is the typical joke pointed at as an expression of graphical improvement in sports games, but in NBA 2K21 that’s simply the salty tip of the iceberg.
4 Doesn’t: Clipping
As long as video games exist, clipping will occur. Clipping is a part of the video game experience and has been a major hurdle even the greatest developers in the world struggle to overcome.
Though it’s something gamers have come to forgive, it is such a point of emphasis among the NBA 2K community that you’d assume the developers would make it a point of importance. The next-gen hardware is pretty new to them as well, so maybe fans simply have to wait for NBA 2K22 to see some big improvements to the issues related to clipping.
3 Matters: Animations
The NBA 2K series has always done a good job of providing an NBA gameplay experience with fluid animations in all parts of the game. With next-gen consoles, it’s taken to another level and gamers can experience some of the smoothest animations in a sports game, let alone NBA 2K.
The game simply flows in a way that is captivating and adds to the overall sense of immersion when you are defending a game-winning shot or running out on the fastbreak.
2 Doesn’t: Create-A-Player Lacking
One would assume that the added power of next-gen would allow 2K the ability to sprinkle in a few new options when it comes to their Create-A-Player suite, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The next-gen version of the game has all of the same issues when it comes to creating your player that the Xbox One and PS4 versions do.
Franchises like MLB: The Show and the often-maligned WWE 2K show it’s possible to make it more expansive, so there’s no excuse why it should continue to remain stagnant.
1 Matters: The City
Fans of NBA 2K remember seeing the announcement of The Neighborhood in 2017 and wondering how on Earth it was possible. Since then, The Neighborhood has lost much of its charm due to poor moment-to-moment performance and a lack of real innovation.
With next-gen, NBA 2K21 players are getting its true evolution in The City. It’s a deeper and better performing version of The Neighborhood and takes players around 45 minutes to explore it entirely, making it an experience worth checking out as soon as possible.
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