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NBA 2K17 Wishlist

by Matt Bertz on Jul 22, 2016 at 01:30 PM

Information is starting to trickle out about the next edition of the popular NBA 2K series, which consistently ranks as one of the best sports games. Coming off another stellar year, we don’t envision the game needing wholesale changes in any particular department, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see developer Visual Concepts incorporate a few meaningful tweaks into NBA 2K17 and its follow-ups to take its already world-beating basketball sim to another level.

Here are some areas we would love to see improved in the coming years. Our staff primarily plays the MyCareer and MyGM modes, so our wish list skews toward these experiences.



Better Player Creation Tools
The face scan technology introduced in NBA 2K15 got better last year, but could still use some work to avoid disasters like this. In addition, we would love to see more variety offered for body definition and tattoos. 

Widen The Scope Of Spectator Mode
Last May, Visual Concepts introduced a spectator mode called 2K Streamcast so fans could watch the high stakes Road to the Finals tournament. However, that technology didn’t expand beyond that purpose. This year the technology’s utility should be extended across the entirety of the game so users can watch friends and pros play NBA 2K outside the confines of specific tournaments. 

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. They also would offer some honest competition for the ridiculously overpowered 2016-17 Golden State Warriors team, which should smoke most modern NBA teams with ease.



Eliminate Remaining “Canimations”
Visual Concepts has continued to evolve its animation and physics system to give the player more freedom to move the way they intend on the court, but the game needs a bit more clean-up work. We still see moments where a player is sucked into an unintended canned animation, particularly when it comes to double teams on the perimeter.  

Develop Advanced Tutorials
NBA 2K is a surprisingly intricate game, with a large variety of dribble moves, passing options, and shot styles to choose from in any given moment. Visual Concepts buries a tutorial in the menu system, but I would love to see a redoubled effort to not only help users master the ins and outs of the controls, but also learn some basic basketball concepts. The Madden series has done a phenomenal job of teaching players to identify passing concepts and exploits to defensive coverage; I could see the same thing work well for NBA 2K.

Fix In-Game Injury System
NBA 2K16 introduced the deepest injury system I’ve ever seen in a video game, tracking ailments throughout a player’s career and ultimately having them play into their longevity. This system works fine when you sim most of your games, but I rarely saw players get injured in games I played. A quick Google search confirms that many users who prefer to play their games rather than sim them had the same experience. To remedy, Visual Concepts should tune the frequency that players get injured during games the users actually participate in. 


Reintegrate The Story 
Rather than integrate Spike Lee’s story into the full MyCareer experience, Visual Concepts opted to make players plow through the underwhelming narrative first before introducing the full suite of features. While you played through the early years of Freq’s hoops career, you couldn’t accrue VC currency to upgrade your player, get performance grades during games, or even gain access to the social media interactions or league stats. This was a misguided decision that should be avoided in future iterations, as these components go a long way to making the mode engaging. 

Start Careers With The Right Rating
Starting users off with an overall rating of 55 makes total sense – if MyCareer is about a failed athlete working a Foot Locker cash register. But if users are going to start as first-round draft picks, they should have a rating that reflects their standing amongst the other rookies. Intentionally starting us with deflated ratings just smacks of a cynical ploy to get players to spend money on VC for upgrades. 

Make Player Choice Matter
Back when MyCareer was first introduced, the mode felt like you had more agency over the trajectory of your career. You could even turn into a universally reviled jerk. That flexibility with making the kind of player you want to be has waned in recent years, and that’s unfortunate. A re-emphasis on player choice impacting the trajectory of your career would be a nice touch. Bringing back GM interactions would be a great step in the right direction. Once you become a franchise player, having options open up that allow you to exert your influence on personnel decisions would be great, whether that be offering feedback to the GM on who’d you like them to target in trade talks, getting another player who you don’t work well with shipped out of town, or being given the chance to try and lure upcoming unrestricted free agents to your town by spending time with them. 

Give Users More Control Over Their MyPlayer Emotions
In the previous three 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. We'd also like to have a choice between voice styles to better reflect the type of player we want to create. I'd love to select between voices that offer different personality types like DeMarcus Cousins’ volatility, Steph Curry’s quiet confidence, and LeBron James’ demand of greatness.

Revamp The Progression In MyCareer
The previous two games’ progression systems forced you to upgrade sets of skills rather than tweaking individual ratings. This approach 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.

Create Separate Currencies For Items And Progression
This one is a holdover wish from the past few years. Deciding between buying a new tee shirt or improving your jump shot is a stupid choice that 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, 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 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.



Make Training Matter More
Though it got less frequent last year, the only time general managers really have to deal with training is when a player complains about being overworked or if the trainer thinks the team should be put through its paces more often. The A.I. driving trainers should be more savvy than this, offering season goals for players and suggestions for shoring up weak points for both players and the team as a whole. 

Make Contact Negotiations More Intense
NBA 2K offers more drama than most sports games when it comes to free agency thanks to its conversation system, but we’d like to see these discussions expanded even further. We’d love to have deeper talks about why our team is a good fit for the player, as well as honest talks about what other teams are offering. 

Get A New Press Corps
Perhaps this is intentional, but you can’t win with the press. Most of the time you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when fielding questions from reporters, even if you offer a perfectly reasonable answer. We would love to see this system revamped, so reporters more capably challenge your decision making on free agent signings, busted draft picks, and trades. Given the number of decisions a GM has to make on a daily basis, the press has plenty of weapons for challenging their leadership. Visual Concepts should focus on these things instead of the vague questions about how the team is doing. 

Keep Tuning Trade Logic
The trade mechanics in NBA 2K are deeper than any other sports game, even allowing for multi-team deals. With these complexities come some complications that we hope Visual Concepts can address in NBA 2K17. We’ve seen some strange offers from CPU-controlled teams, like a 72-rated player and a first-round draft pick for a 69-rated player with a C+ potential. Those are the kind of dumbfounding decisions that should have been removed when the Timberwolves fired notorious failure David Kahn. 



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.

What features are you hoping come to NBA 2K17? Share them in the comments section below.