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The Gameplay Improvements And Changes Coming To NBA 2K21 On New-Gen Consoles

by Kimberley Wallace on Oct 07, 2020 at 09:00 AM

Yesterday, Visual Concepts made a splash with its new gameplay trailer for NBA 2K21,  showcasing the graphical power of the new consoles. The new-gen version was built from the ground up to leverage the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. After putting the realistic player models and dribbling moves on display, Visual Concepts is finally talking about what to expect in terms of fundamental changes and improvements to the core gameplay for the new-gen version. 

"Many of the new mechanics and features that we're adding to the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 are only possible thanks to the extra horsepower afforded by the new consoles," writes gameplay director Mike Wang in the latest Courtside Report.

Wang called this version "our largest game yet" and "the biggest leap forward for the franchise." He then went into extensive detail on shooting, dribbling, and passing, saying the team has been able to further evolve the use of the pro-stick.


The "pro-stick shooting" features shot-arc control in the new-gen version. For those who need a refresher on this, when you pull down on the pro stick to execute a jump shot, the speed of your stick movement determines whether the aim skews to the left or right on the shot meter. You then adjust the aiming marker to the center to hit the release window. "For next-gen, the stick speed also now controls the arc of your jump shot," Wang explains. "Slow flicks will give you extra high arcs, while fast flicks will make your shot fall flat."

Using fast flicks (or slightly aiming in the direction of the backboard) gives you bank shot control. "So if you want to emulate Dwyane Wade or Tim Duncan, it’s now much easier for you to do that," Wang says. "This works for layups too. It may seem like a tiny detail but I love being able to control whether I drop a layup directly into the hoop vs. put it off the window. It’s a cool control that’s never been in a basketball game before!"

The shot meter is also getting a new look and bigger role in the action. "We’ve added an arrowhead to the aiming and timing marker that makes it much easier to see the sweet spot as well," Wang says. "The shot meter’s make window is now blue and will grow and shrink dynamically based on how good the shooter is, the degree of difficulty of the shot, and how well it’s defended. For next-gen, if you miss the window completely, it means you’ll miss the shot." To get that sweet green release, you'll want to aim for the black notch in the middle of the make window.

Layup timing has been disabled by default in the new-gen version in the game. However, high-skilled players can enable this to provide full control over the timing and aiming when they drive to the net.  Ths gives you a better chance at hitting a tougher layup if you execute it correctly, but you also run a higher risk of missing an easy shot if you don't stick the landing. 


Yesterday's trailer featured some impressive and realistic dribbling moves, and Visual Concepts confirmed the new-gen version is taking things a step further. The new moves and combo-chaining from the current-gen version of NBA 2K21 return, but even more additions are on the way. 

You can now change up the pace of your dribbling to keep your defender on their toes. "Next-gen has given us the opportunity to add an interesting feature to ball handling that we never had before: the ability to control the speed of your size-up moves based on how slowly or quickly you flick the pro stick," Wang says. 

Players have their own new signature moves, such as LeBron's suspended dribble. And of course, there's the triple threat that players like Carmelo Anthony have mastered. "There’s a host of new moves and first step launches at your disposal," Wang says. "Hesitations, escapes, stepbacks, hard go’s and crosses… if you’ve seen it pulled off in the NBA, chances are you can pull it off in the game. And just like the size-ups, pro stick speed control works in the triple threat too. So you have full control of both the direction and speed of your rocker steps and jab fakes by how slowly or quickly you flick the stick."


Passing has also seen some upgrades. For starters, expect bounce passes to look more realistic. "The bounce location, especially on long passes, looks much more accurate to real life and the ball can respect spin and floor friction in a more realistic manner," Wang says. "To add to this, our physics improvements now allow players to throw bounce alley-oops like Curry did to Giannis in the All-Star game a couple years back. Our ball physics rewrite also gave us a marked improvement in throwing alley-oops off the glass to teammates, as well as the addition of bounce touch passes for the first time in 2K basketball."

For playmakers, a new lead pass mechanic is also sure to give you better success on the court. "Now simply tapping Triangle/Y will lead a teammate to the hoop or around the perimeter to get behind the 3PT line based on their court position and current movement," Wang explains. "If you see a teammate flash to the hoop, you can quickly feed them the ball for a quick dunk with a simple button press. Holding the Lead Pass button works like the regular pass button now, allowing you to target farther away receivers for a skip pass lead to basket."

To see an even more detailed breakdown of some of the new features, you can read the full Courtside Report here.

NBA 2K21 hits Xbox Series X/S on November 10 and launches on November 12 for PS5. 

Products In This Article

NBA 2K21cover

NBA 2K21

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Release Date:
September 4, 2020 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC), 
November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X/S), 
November 12, 2020 (PlayStation 5)