NBA 2K20 has provided hours of entertainment since it was released in September, but that doesn’t mean the entire experience has been positive. In fact, this past release was a rough one for the series.
Server issues and a significant drop-off in communication with the community were the main culprits. As the series moves into the next decade and another generation of gaming consoles–despite the impressive sales numbers–there is room for improvement on several levels.
Here are 50 suggestions to make NBA 2K21 the best release in series history.
Things have gone a bit off the rails in this department over the past year or so, but there are three things that can be implemented to help the publisher and developer’s communication with its fanbase.
Afterall, 2K has turned into a Massive Multiplayer Online title. Strong communication is essential for MMOs.
- Thorough Explanation of Every Player Rating, Badge and Tendency – There should be no more guessing about ratings, badges or tendencies. Whether it’s an in-game screen or a social media post, 2K should make this information public thereby removing the guesswork from this crucial aspect of their game in all modes.
- More Detailed Patch Notes – Also in the area of transparency, 2K needs to get back to delivering detailed patch notes. At one point, the publisher delivered fully-fleshed out details about its updates, but that has given way to sparse, overly simplistic communications that don’t shed much light on the changes.
- Community Managers – Who delivers the information above and other relevant communications with the community? A team of community managers. The NBA 2K machine is too big for one community manager. It needs at least three to be liaisons between the community and the developers.
There were no major new issues with the gameplay this year, but there are still several legacy problems that create a disconnect from the ideal experience.
- Lessen the Out-of-Bounds Wall – The invisible wall that prevents your character from stepping out of bounds too easily needs to be lessened. It’s being abused and oftentimes it creates ugly animations. Rather than hitting the invisible wall, a sideline-conscience set of animations should kick in when a player is dribbling and driving near the inbounds line.
- Make Hands Rating Matter – The hands rating should determine how well your player makes difficult catches, but it doesn’t seem as though that’s the current function. Hands could be a crucial piece of the gameplay if it functioned properly.
- Improve Transition Defense – At times, 2K players have to be completely irritated with the nonsensical behavior of their A.I-controlled teammates on defense in transition. The logic that is supposed to determine defensive priorities seems a little broken. Bigs often let driving guards and wing players get to the basket without obstacle. Something needs to improve this area of the game.
- Technical Fouls – Self-control or emotional ratings could be the seed for adding the technical foul concept into the game. Ideally, a player like Draymond Green, who is firey and known for drawing techs, would have a lower self-control rating and higher emotional mark. The technical foul moments might be caused by a foul call and made more likely by the agitated player’s current situation on the floor.
- More In-Game Injuries – Injuries almost never happen in game, and that needs to change. In addition to a higher frequency, it would also be nice if there were appropriate animations and commentary for the injury that made it seem real.
- Activatable Badges – Badges are great. They help separate players by tier, but not all badges should be active from the start of a game. Almost all shooting badges should require some level of positive actions in the game to become active. No one should hit the floor with Range Extender activated.
- Inbounds Ridiculousness – This is pretty much only happening on a maddening level in MyTeam. As it stands, any time you inbound the ball after the other team has scored, the big man on your team has to be the one to pass it inbounds. This is the case even when the big is completely out of position. Is there a way to change this? I sure hope so.
- Less Random Ankle-Breaker Animations – Breaking ankles is fun in 2K, but it should be more skill based and less random. An ankle-breaker animation should be triggered when a defender tries to bring his controlled player back across its body on defense. The better the defender, the easier it is for them to recover. Worse defenders would have a larger window that left them more vulnerable to ankle breaker animations.
The amount of hours I’ve spent playing MyTeam this year is almost embarrassing. There’s probably no one on the face of the Earth better equipped to point out its areas of opportunity.
It’s a fantastic mode, but here is how it can get even better.
- Auction House – Search Improvements – When you’re opening packs and you get a duplicate card, you have the option of sending it to the Auction House to sell for MyTeam points. Smart MyTeam players will check the going rate so they know what price to place on the card. Unfortunately, this process is way too cumbersome. You have to do a search for the card with a minimum buy-now cost (with erratic results at times, but more on that later), to see what the lowest one available is going for on the market. It would be so much easier if you could conduct this search from the Auction Block rather than needing to head to an entirely different tab.
- Allow Quicksell Even Without Duplicate Items – I’m playing the mode to be a Completionist (I need about 74 more cards to get the Galaxy Opal Dwyane Wade), but not everyone wants to play that way. As it is, the only cards you have a chance to send to the Auction immediately are duplicates. Other collector modes give you an option to Quicksell items that aren’t duplicates. MyTeam should give the same functionality.
- More Dependable Search in Auction – As was mentioned in the section above, the search results in the Auction aren’t always dependable. You have to implement weird workarounds to get the information you’re searching. It would be great to see that improved.
- Better Rewards for MyTeam Unlimited – MTU is the most fun way to play MyTeam, but the rewards aren’t worth the time investment and the skill it requires to go 12-0. Most of the year, a nice card awaits a player who is good enough to run the table, but because doing so requires about a 6-hour commitment and a high level of skill, the rewards should be a lot better than they are currently.
- Better Evolution System (Quicker Evolves, More Rewards for Long Evolves) – The Evo cards were a great idea, and the New Year’s Resolution set was probably the best of the ones that have been released. However, many of the cards have insane requirements for evo, like the Amethyst Isaiah Thomas that you get for reaching one of the collector levels. If you have absolutely no life, and love playing with a miniature guard, you can evolve him to the Galaxy Opal level. Quite honestly, there really is no worthwhile incentive to spend the time and effort evolving a card like this, or just about any card for that matter. I play MyTeam daily and I have never seen anyone with GO version of this card. It would be great to see more quick evolves, and some sort of large MT or medallion reward for your collection if you complete evolution process for the cards that have the loftiest benchmarks.
- Salary Cap Mode – 2K tried this angle with its SuperMax mode a few years back, and their approach was flawed. To put it plainly, they made it way too complicated. Each gem category should carry a salary, similar to the way DraftKings contests work. Your lineups salary cap could be say $15 million with Galaxy Opal cards counting for $3.5 million, Pink Diamonds $3 million, Diamonds $2.5 million, Amethysts $1.5 million, Rubies $1 million, Sapphires $850K, Emeralds $700K, Gold $500K, Silvers $250K, and Bronzes $100K. Each user has to fill every slot with no duplicate players, and no one playing out of position. If this existed, it would be my favorite mode, and it would accomplish a few very important things. First, it would give fans a mode to play that isn’t overrun with overpowered cards, even deep into the release cycle. It would also remove any logical pay-to-win criticisms because it is totally possible to grind your way to an acceptable team under these parameters. Lastly, it would create even more value for lower gem level cards that have attractive attributes. Having a dependable shooting silver or gold player would be extremely valuable because these cards would be coveted because of their low salary and situational effectiveness. This could keep the Auction House lively all year.
- Draft Mode – 2K also tried this angle with its Pack and Play mode, and just like SuperMax, it was made far too complicated and weird. Madden has this concept down perfectly with MUT Draft, and 2K would be wise to take a page from EA’s book with some hoops-inspired tweaks. It could be based on building a Big Three with supporting players around those stars. Three rounds in the draft would give players access to the top cards available in the mode while the rest of the rounds would spread out amongst the other gem levels.
- Mini-Mode (Obstacle Course to Earn MT) – MyTeam has a charming arcade element to it that is attractive to a lot of gamers. A salary cap mode would create some sim balance, but an even more over-the-top addition would be smart. In the spirit of the highly underrated NBA Skills Challenge, 2K should release an obstacle course mode that allows gamers to earn MT by taking players in their collection through a basketball environment packed with targets, high-difficulty shots and more. Imagine one section charging you with hitting a three-quarter-court length shot, another requiring you to get a green release on jump shot, and then a third tasking you with dunking on Tacko Fall. I can see the videos on YouTube with this mode already. It should be available for a limited number of usages each week, and you can earn more MT by completing it with lower-rated cards. The course could be themed according to the month, and the challenges could change weekly. Fans would love it especially if the MT rewards were a big enough incentive.
- Allow Gifting of Cards – I know there can be some issues with this, but it’s time 2K allow players to gift cards. It should only be 3-5 per month, but if I own the card–even digitally–I should be able to do whatever I want with it. This would provide online content creators a way to run giveaways, and there’s obviously the option to play a friend in a head-to-head game for a card from your collection.
MyCareer, PARK, Pro-Am and Rec
If I’m being honest, this aspect of 2K was the least attractive to me in this year’s game. If some of these things were in place, perhaps that would change for NBA 2K21.
- Offline and Online MyCareer – For years members of the fanbase have been asking for this and 2K hasn’t put it into motion. There are several 2K gamers who would like to play MyCareer without the online component so they wouldn’t have to be subject to the restrictions put into play to prevent overpowered players online. Ideally, there would be an online and offline MyCareer experience so everyone could have what they want.
- Provide League Creation With Stat-Tracking for Pro-Am – One of the best ways to help the NBA 2K League is to help to establish smaller, but organized leagues that can be a feeder for the only professional version in the world. If Pro-Am allowed you to create and run a league with stat tracking, the most popular ones would be to the NBA 2K League what college basketball is to the real-life NBA. How amazing would it be to have something that functioned as a lightweight MyLeague within Pro-Am? It’s hard to quantify how valuable that presence would be overall.
- Alter the Archetype Restrictions – The current archetype restrictions are too stringent. Users should be able to create and develop their MyPlayers into anyone who is currently in the NBA or has ever played in the league. As of now, there are several popular players who you cannot model your player after because of the attribute caps.
- New Progression System – The previously mentioned arch restrictions were put into place to eliminate the presence of overpowered characters. However, the fix isn’t in restricting them all together, it’s in making sure only the most skilled and dedicated players are able to max out a Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, or LeBron James build. A progression system that isn’t based purely on grinding, but is also based on maintaining a certain level of shot-timing, steal accuracy, teammate grade and other analytics is the best move. In this system, MyPlayers could lose badges they have earned and see a dip in their attributes for poor play. Each tier of attributes and badges would have a floor, so it wouldn’t ever dip back to brown-shirt level, but it would take skill and consistency to keep your player performing at its top level. With that in place, there would be no need for the arch restrictions. It would also help to further individualize players in the community, and perhaps in the 2K League if the players were ever allowed to use their own MyPlayers rather than specific builds.
- Female MyPlayers – 2K took a step adding the WNBA to the game last year. It would be nice to see them allow female MyPlayers in the mix this year. It’s time; As a matter of fact–it was time a few years ago.
MyGM/MyLeague and Customization
I have to give a major shoutout to Da Infamous NY for putting the battery in my back for this section. He put together a solid wishlist with a major concentration on MyLeague and customization. I echo many of his suggestions here and have some of my own.
- Bigger VC Rewards for Franchise Mode Accomplishments – The franchise modes are still the most complete and well-done aspects of the 2K universe. However, too few people take advantage of it. If there were bigger VC rewards for completing certain franchise goals (MVP, winning the NBA Finals, All-Star Appearances, Hall-of-Fame inductions, leading the league in scoring), it might entice more people to play.
- Smaller Leagues with Less Teams – Customization is one of the strong suits of the franchise modes, but there are some places it can still improve. It would be great to have the ability to create leagues with as few as eight teams.
- Dependable MyLeague Online Servers – MLO’s servers have been horrible for years, and that’s one of the saddest truths surrounding the 2K franchise. It seems 2K has hired new talent to help iron out some of these problems, so hopefully NBA 2K21 will be stronger in this regard.
- Simplified Player Editing and Creation – When you’re creating rosters or editing players, the small things are the most time consuming. As DINY pointed out, simply putting all of the attributes on one screen would make the creation and editing process much easier.
- Wider Range of Body Types – 2K has added a few more body type variations, but we’re still too limited, especially with offline creations. Heavier-set guys, various muscular builds and ultra-thin frames are a must.
- Change Specification of Wingspans to Feet and Inches – This is yet another suggestion from DINY. Why not simply change the wingspan rating to feet and inches? It would translate so much easier.
- Choose Offline CAPs Takeover – DINY suggests offline CAP creators should be able to assign their creations a Takeover skill, and I concur. There is no good reason for this to be random.
- More Sculpting Options for CAPs – The creation tool for MLB The Show has excellent face-sculpting options that offer far more than NBA 2K’s model. It would be great to see this expanded or reworked to something more detailed.
- More Hairstyles for CAPs – For years, I have been calling for an expansion in this area of the game. Players in the NBA wear so many different hairstyles and 2K creators don’t have access to many of them.
- Tattoos for Offline CAPs – It’s crazy that we can’t add tattoos to offline created players. This needs to change soon.
- Roster Customization Options in MyGM – In NBA 2K20, some valuable customization options were lost in MyGM. Perhaps chief among the removed features was the ability to use a custom roster. Hopefully that functionality returns for NBA 2K21.
- Photo Upload for Offline Create-A-Player – I’ve wanted this feature in NBA 2K ever since EA released its GameFace app. Also with WWE 2K having it as a part of their creation suite, it seems even more of an egregious omission from the NBA 2K series.
- Image Upload for Shoe Designs – This one is all DINY, and I couldn’t agree more. It would really be an extension of the excellent uniform creator that is already in place. Only, the content that could be created could help to inspire real sneaker creations.
- Customize More Aspects of the Floor in Create-a-Arena – As is, the arena creator is strong. It could be even better if, as DINY says, it allowed you to customize every area of the floor and not just certain spots. As he points out on his wishlist, the old-school Rockets floor had tons of personality, but it’s impossible to recreate in the current system.
- Ratings Suggestion Engine – It would be excellent if you could input stats, body types and archetype and receive realistically suggested ratings based on your inputs. Obviously, you could alter all of the ratings, but it could help with fictional and historic rosters.
- Playable G-League Experience – Almost every franchise mode player wants to be able to control the G-League. Perhaps this is the year that makes into the game.
- CAP Audio Storyline – I’ve mentioned this concept to members of the 2K dev team before, but it would add to the immersion if created players had specific commentary audio based on comparisons to real-life players. Taking it a step further, the CAPs career accomplishments and failures like MVPs, injuries, championships, trades, and milestones would trigger other commentary exclusive to your MyLeague or MyGM experience. For example, you’ve created 6’10” thin, scoring machine with above-average athleticism. His frame and skills combination brings on comparisons to Durant. If a player is in his second season and he spent his rookie year injured, there would be comments referencing that hardship. This is yet another way to make MyLeague and MyGM a different kind of experience than you can find in any other mode.
- Better Halftime Show – The NBA Live franchise does one thing better than 2K, and it’s the halftime show. The halftime show in 2K is very outdated. If NBA 2K21 has an intermission that is on par with NBA Live, it will have taken a much-needed step in the area of presentation.
- Weekly Wrap-Up Show – The last piece of proposed goodness to improve the franchise mode experience is the addition of a weekly wrap-up show. If there was an in-studio look back at the previous week in your MyLeague and MyGM with highlights, mock tweets, fake video and other simulations of NBA media coverage, it would take the franchise mode experience to another level.
Play Now Online
This might be the most neglected mode in the 2K universe, but one addition could help and build a viable eSports vehicle.
- Rankings System for Leaderboard – PNO needs a ranking system that awards points for wins with more going to players who win with poor teams against mid-level and top-tier squads. An ultimate ranking is the best way to gauge the top players and it doesn’t pigeonhole anyone into the current tier system. Once the top players are clearly established, the seed for an eSports vehicle could be in place.
Standalone Modes and Features
The following suggestions need to be in the game, but they don’t belong to a specific area and would more than likely be standalone modes and features.
- Blacktop Online – Blacktop is an underrated aspect of the game, and it would be great to see it available online in the same way that PARK functions. A lobby for 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, and 5v5 on street courts with PARK moves for NBA players would be an attractive online feature. It’s a lot like NBA All-Star Team-Up on the Blacktop.
- Situation Mode – This mode used to be available in the game and was great for building challenges for yourself. You could set the teams, score, quarter and time on the clock and attempt huge comebacks or standout individual performances like buzzer beaters. Bringing this option back would be smart, and making the challenges shareable could help to involve the community.
- Mamba Moments – Quite honestly, this should have been in NBA 2K17 when Kobe Bryant retired. It could function just as the Jordan Challenge mode did back in NBA 2K11. With his untimely passing, it seems appropriate 2K include this kind of mode to pay homage to Bryant. I’d also suggest 2K make a sizable donation to one of Bryant’s favorite charities or causes as a way to give back since it would benefit financially from the inclusion of this mode.
- Bring Back Old-School Filters – The usage of screen filters in NBA 2K11 and 2K12 made the classic teams pop all the more. It would be nice to bring this option back.
- All-Star Weekend as A Standalone Mode – This was taken out of the game a long time ago, but bringing it back following such an excellent All-Star weekend makes sense.
Will we see all of this in NBA 2K21? Not a chance, but that’s why it’s a wishlist.