NBA 2K21 Preview

The launch of each iteration of the NBA 2K series has become an event each year. This year’s version is set to be unique and special, and Game Rant was able to sit in on an event showing off everything NBA 2K21 will have to offer.

NBA 2K21 could be a monumental game in the series. According to the developer, NBA 2K21 is set to be more skill-based than ever, something the hard-core fans will appreciate. The Neighborhood has also finally received its massive overhaul. In something that only happens every 6 to 7 years, 2K21 will be releasing on brand new next-gen hardware. MyCareer, MyTEAM, and MyGM are also getting big changes. Additionally, in a year in which the NBA, and the world, lost a legend in Kobe Bryant, 2K is looking to honor him.


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NBA 2K21 is More Skill-Based than Ever

The developers have worked hard on a few rather drastic gameplay changes, and claim that movement and shooting feel completely different. The Pro-stick is quicker and smoother, allowing for quick responsive movements. While a new shot stick adds an additional element to aiming, which makes shooting trickier but more rewarding.

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Thanks to Damian Lillard being the cover athlete of the current-gen version, a 6’8″ point guard has been added as one of the player types. Weight and size will directly influence the way the game moves and plays, meaning on the defensive side smaller guards like Steph Curry will be quicker and more fluid in movement than larger players like Lebron James. These changes were purposefully implemented to create a fun experience that is more skill-based and realistic.

The Beach is the New Neighborhood

The Neighborhood has long been one of the fans’ favorite things about the NBA 2K series. Playing pick-up ball, pro-am fun, and working on the MyPlayer within the world of the Neighborhood simply fits with basketball culture. But with NBA 2k21, the developers have created a new Neighborhood, and it seems like another perfect pick.

NBA 2K21 will use The Beach, an area inspired by beach basketball in the LA area. It’s a brand new setting for 3-on-3, events, shops, Pro-Am, and more. One thing that is important to note about The Beach is that it is only for the current-gen NBA 2K21; the next-gen NBA 2K21 will have its own new Neighborhood location.

NBA 2K21 on Current-Gen and Next-Gen

The current-gen and next-gen versions of NBA 2K21 will be entirely different games, which is one of the reasons why 2K can justify charging a higher price for next-gen NBA 2K. There will be some similarities, and even cross-save functionality, but many aspects of the games will be unique.

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One of the most important things to note is that all of the data from MyTEAM will carry over from current-gen to next-gen. The developers wanted to make sure that players can have fun building their teams and growing the roster without feeling like all of it will be lost when they eventually upgrade. That is, however, where most of the cross-save information from current-gen to next-gen stops. MyCareer won’t carry over, for example.

Next-gen NBA 2K21 will have massive upgrades and improvements, according to the developer. One of the more interesting teases has to to with WNBA and female basketball players. Just like last year, the current-gen NBA 2K21 will have both ‘Play Now’ and season features with WNBA teams and players, but that’s it. When Game Rant asked the team if a female MyPlayer will be available in NBA 2K21, the developers answered that it won’t be possible in current-gen, but that they have some exciting things in store for the next-gen version of the game, implying that perhaps female MyPlayers will be added, and perhaps even more features.

MyTEAM, MyCareer, and More

MyTEAM is seeing some pretty interesting changes and improvements that will make the mode ever-evolving. In the past, players focused only on the best cards in NBA 2K, but the developers want to find creative ways to allow all the cards to be used. There will be limited weekend events where multiplayer will only allow specific card types, like only Lakers and Celtics, or only cards of a certain rating. Card Evolutions and Badge Customization will also be a part of the mode.

MyCareer has some new additions as well. Players will start out their career in high school, learning the mechanics of the game and growing as an athlete. They will then be able to choose between 10 licensed colleges, including UCLA, Villanova, Florida, and Texas Tech. Agents will also have a bigger role this time around, with more details on that to come.

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The changes to MyGM/MyLeague are very robust. Along with an activity log and other community-requested features, there is a new Boom or Bust Progression system that sounds like it could set the standard in sports simulators. In the past, players would have set rankings that they have as their ceiling, and regardless of what is done, those players would always hit that mark. For example, perhaps Zion Williams (cover athlete of the next-gen version of 2K21) has a set ceiling ranking of 97. In the old set-up, Zion would always eventually hit that mark, but that isn’t the case with this Boom or Bust Progression system.

The developer used Zion as an example again and said that on two totally separate runs he had one situation where Zion basically became the next Micahel Jordan, winning multiple championships and averaging insane numbers. In another run, however, Zion ended up with a decent career, as he bounced around to a few teams and battled some injuries throughout. This new progression feature is sure to keep the game fresh.

Another important note that the developers wanted to express was their love for Kobe Bryant, cover athlete of the Legends Edition, and how they wanted to make sure that they treat the Mamba Forever Edition with respect. They have some things planned for honoring Bryant and his legacy, but that news will have to wait for later.

NBA 2K21 releases September 4 on PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One and mobile devices, followed by PS5 and Xbox Series X at a later date.

MORE: PGA 2K21 is Hoping to Replicate the Success of NBA 2K

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