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Feature

NBA 2K16 Wish List

by Matt Bertz on Jun 09, 2015 at 11:00 AM

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Last year NBA 2K15 would have been our sports game of the year, but legacy issues like horrible servers once again undermined an otherwise outstanding game. If developer Visual Concepts can shore up these weaknesses and add some new wrinkles to the game's many modes, we wouldn't be surprised to see NBA 2K16 contend for best sports game once again. Here we recommend several tweaks – some obvious, some out of the box – to put the series in a position to succeed.

Fix The Servers Once And For All
For the past few game launches, the NBA 2K games have been stuck in a Groundhog Day-like cycle of repetition. You boot up the new game excited to jump into the action, only to be denied by myriad session drops, laggy performance, and lost progress. All hands should be on deck to figure out a way to make this stop once and for all. The tech exists to stabilize this platform. Spend what you need to make this an issue of the past. 

Get Your Online Out Of My Single-Player
This is a holdover from last year's list. No good reason exists for forcing every single interaction in a single-player mode to interface with an online server. It's only given users headaches (even causing them to lose their face scans and MyCareer progress) and made Visual Concepts look bad. Want to offer VC for purchase for single-player modes? Have at it, but make that chosen transaction be the only time MyGM or MyPlayer interacts with a server.

Get Rid Of The "Got Next" Format In MyPark
I understand where Visual Concepts is coming from with the idea of MyPark. Placing users in a virtual basketball mecca with several street courts and an indoor gym sounds great on paper, but it breaks every rule about good matchmaking in practice. You know what's better than making people stand in line to play the next game? Letting them jump immediately into a game via a standard lobby system. Our time is precious. Don't make us waste it by standing around a virtual court instead of playing.

Reintroduce Crews
The crews came back last year, but only for old-gen consoles. This year we'd like to see a full 5v5 league structure similar to NHL's EASHL. Let users name their teams, customize rosters, and work their way up divisional ladders of competition and compete among the best players in the world. 

Revamp The Progression In MyCareer
NBA 2K15's revamped upgrade system, which has you upgrade sets of skills rather than tweaking individual ratings, is blind to the type of player you want to become. This is especially irksome early on in the progression, when you see points allocated to post defense and blocks when you're a point guard who would be better served with skills used during defending the perimeter. Visual Concepts should hit reverse on this revision and go back to a more granular system that lets you improve the skills that are most applicable to your play style.

Dramatically Improve The Acting In MyCareer
Last year Visual Concepts asked an NBA player from each team to participate in voiceover work for MyCareer. The results ranged from adequate to downright embarrassing. With Spike Lee on board to direct MyCareer this year, we expect a lot of improvement in this category.

Give Users More Control Over Their MyPlayer Emotions
In the previous two MyCareer stories, a disconnect always surfaced between what I thought I told my player to say in a press conference or meeting and what comes out of his mouth. Visual Concepts needs to do a better job of shedding light on the tone and meaning of the responses. While they're at it, we'd also like to have a choice between voice styles to better reflect the type of player we are hoping to create. I'd love to select between voices that offer different personality types like Tim Duncan's quite composure, Nick Young's playful confidence, and KG's overflowing passion.

Let Us Fire Our Agent
The agent in NBA 2K15 was so over the top I assume he was a secondary character left on the cutting room floor from Grand Theft Auto V. Every time he spoke all I could think about was firing him. We'd love a system that allows you to choose between agents, each with particular strengths and weaknesses that could affect the opportunities presented to your player throughout his career.

Create Separate Currencies For Items And Progression
Another holdover wish from last year. Deciding between buying a new tee shirt or improving your jump shot is a stupid choice players shouldn't have to make. Visual Concepts could remedy this by awarding upgrade points for performance and by paying players a regular cash-based salary like real NBA players so they can use that money on off-the-court items. We'd also like to see Visual Concepts expand the types of things you can buy in the game. Drop the clothing and accessory prices (which only makes sense since most NBA athletes are millionaires) and introduce a new collection of high-priced luxury items for us to waste our earnings on. Think of it as MyCrib 2.0, with a selection of high-rise apartments to choose from, custom home courts, private planes, and a slew of off-field activities that users must balance against the expectations the franchise has for the player on the court. 

Highlight Major Team Moments
I love the off-court interactions with my teammates, but MyCareer skips some of the biggest moments that shake the foundation of a team during the course of the season. Trades, injuries, position changes, and locker room controversies between teammates go by with hardly a mention. These should be surfaced with locker room addresses from the coaching staff and interactions with the players to make us feel like we're really a part of a team.

Improve A.I. Decision Making On The Court
Playing off the ball is frustrating in MyCareer mode. Watching your fellow teammates execute offense in the most uncreative ways possible makes it tough to want to play a position that relies on A.I. ballhandlers to get them in scoring position. The passive big men give up way too many offensive rebounds on the other side of the court as well. We'd love to see Visual Concepts double down on this area of the game to make the on-court action more interesting.

Revamp Player Expectations In MyGM
Too much of your time is spending dealing with players demanding different training regiments, and the mode isn't good at keeping track of what actions you've taken. In one instance I offered a contract extension to a player before I had a conversation about it with him, and was subsequently punished for breaking a promise even though he had the two-year deal in hand. Hopefully NBA 2K16 can address some of these niggling complaints so you're not constantly adjusting training schedules or being punished for allegedly not doing something you know you did already to appease a player or the owner. 

Add All-Franchise Teams
We love the inclusion of classic NBA teams, but you know what would be even better? Decade-spanning rosters that collect the best players from every era for each team. Not only would these all-franchise rosters be great conversation pieces, the on-court action would be fantastic. 

Create More Varied Player Models
Visual Concepts does a fantastic job with facial scans in the NBA games, but we'd like to see more variety in the body models they create. Some tweets seem to hint that the studio is aware of this deficiency and already working to improve it.