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NBA 2K18 Wish List

by Matt Bertz on Jul 07, 2017 at 02:16 PM

With NBA free agency in full swing, fans are starting to get antsy about hearing hard details regarding how the uber popular NBA 2K series plans to evolve for the 2K18 edition. We know the cover athletes and that some version of the game is coming to Nintendo Switch, but beyond that developer Visual Concepts is running a screen play regarding the changes coming to gameplay and game modes in 2017. 

As we patiently wait for the news drop (judging by the early September timing last year we still have a few months to kill), the GI Staff kicked around the evolutions we’d like to see come to the series. Since the majority of us play MyCareer and MyGM modes, this wish list skews heavily in this direction. 


Improve Playoffs Presentation
The intensity ramps up during the playoffs, both on the court and off, but NBA 2K’s broadcast presentation package could use some renovations to make the occasions feel more special. I still feel Visual Concepts does better at creating context around your team in MyGM and MyCareer modes than any other sports game, but more could be done to identify the narrative and focus on it. When a team has upset higher seeds the last two rounds, this should be the big story going in. If a team has come back from being down three games to force a game seven, the remarkable turnaround should drive the broadcast. 

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

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.


Clean Up Contact Animations
NBA 2K17 had way too many locked contact animations that took away player control, especially on drives to the paint and when interacting with the crowd after stepping out of bounds along the sidelines. These frustrating moments effectively take you out of the play. The increased variety in contact animations also had the unfortunate unintended consequence of creating more unbelievable moments where hands and balls are clipping through bodies. We hope Visual Concepts can clean this area of the game up while also adding more contested dunk animations.

Fine-Tune Big Man-Little Man Matchups
One area of play that never felt right last year was when your offensive movement created a mismatch between a less-athletic big man and a guard on the perimeter. In the real NBA, this mismatch almost always creates golden scoring opportunities for the attacker, as they can either use their superior speed to blow past the mammoth for an easy bucket or use jukes to create a step back opportunity for an open shot. In NBA 2K17, it was far too easy for the big guys to stick with and deny a speedy guard entry into the paint. 

Refine Transition Game
Fastbreaks still look too clunky in NBA 2K17. When you throw the outlet pass to the breaking player, the pass gathering animation to dribbling creates a hitch in his step that slows him down just enough to let defenders catch up. Offensive teammates occasionally stop running instead of going to the basket, as well. These are smaller fixes that shouldn’t be hard to implement. 

Start Over With The Timeout Menu
No matter how long I played NBA 2K17, I could never get used to the confusing new timeout menu for substitutions and team strategies. The new system was so confounding that many videos popped up on YouTube showing other users how this new (and worse) system works. Sometimes you have to recognize a failure and start over. 


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 all but disappeared in favor of hit-and-miss, force-fed narratives. A re-emphasis on player choice impacting the trajectory of their 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 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. 

Surface Badge Requirements
Every year after the NBA 2K game releases, users immediately start crowdsourcing how to unlock the badges that give major and minor bonuses to your MyPlayer. Since users are going to set up easy-to-complete scenarios to boost their ways to the badges anyways, I wish 2K would surface badge requirements directly in the game for everyone to alleviate the weak mystery surrounding them. 

Streamline The MyCareer Experience
The MyCareer offering in NBA 2K17 put a huge emphasis on putting in work in between games. Users had the ability to practice multiple times a day to chase higher skill attribute caps and a minor amount of VC. If you want to create an NBA superstar with an impressive array of skill badges, expect to play all 82 games in a season plus spending all that extra time on the court during practice. This is a long slog for those who just want to experience the narrative. 

I don’t want Visual Concepts to do away with the long season format, because that’s the way I prefer to play, but it would be wise for the studio to create a more streamlined approach that cuts away a lot of the fat and just lets users who want the story to play the big beats while getting to feel the thrill of upgrading their character to stardom, earning sponsorships, and interacting with the pros.

Give Users More Control Over Their MyPlayer Emotions
In the last four 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.

Introduce More Flexibility In MyPlayer Archetypes
To try and curtail the crazy number of 7-foot, 99-rated super athletes dominating the MyPark, Visual Concepts introduced MyPlayer archetypes that come with specific hard skill caps for various abilities. This was meant to encourage more diversity among the online ranks and prevent cheesing, but time has shown that the archetype system has room for improvement. Many players still cheese their way to super players, and conversely the rest of the players don’t feel like they have the freedom to create the player they want to play. If you want to be a stud combo guard with great outside shooting and passing like James Harden, there isn’t really a class for you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Visual Concepts could achieve the goals of the archetype system and still give users more granular control over which few skills they want to have the highest hard caps. This would deliver more diversity in the player pool while at the same time making sure the online courts aren’t filled with do-everything players.

Create Separate Currencies For Items And Progression
This one is a holdover wish from the past few years. Deciding between buying a new t-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.


Surface Impactful News Better
NBA 2K has a news center where you can read rumors, transaction information, and scouting updates, but it does a horrible job of cutting through the noise to deliver information relevant to your franchise. I would love to see 2K develop a smart news hub with a more readable presentation that surfaces information that matters. If you’re trying to lure a major free agent against other teams, the headline story should be about the bidding war intensifying. This does two things – reflects on your in-game actions, and acts as a warning that maybe you should up your offer if you want to land your free agency target. Leading up to the draft, the news hub could surface the mock drafts buried in menus and discuss performances of the players you placed on your draft board. When you’re on the hot seat due to failing to meet an owner’s expectations, your tenuous situation should be come news fodder for columnists. Getting reports like these in front of users’ eyes would go a long way toward making MyGM feel more alive. 

Fix CPU Team Building Logic
When you’re browsing opposing teams’ rosters during free agency or the draft, sometimes it looks like you’re walking into a grisly murder scene. Why do teams so frequently only have a two or three guys on their roster?! Are they only signing the majority of their players to one-year deals? This is rarely the case with modern NBA teams. 

Another common-yet-strange occurrence is CPU-controlled teams tripling up on quality players for a particular position at the neglect of others. This most commonly happens with wing players and point guards. To clear up how these CPU teams view their own roster, it would be helpful to be able to see who they think is the point guard when they don’t have a true PG on the roster and instead have four SGs. 

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 continues to address. We’ve fielded 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. During the draft, I’ve had the team that just selected a player the pick in front of me offer that player and an additional second round pick for my upcoming pick. Even notorious former Timberwolves GM David Kahn knows that’s not how trading back is supposed to work. 2K should examine these trade blunders and tighten up the logic so you see less head scratchers.

Tone Down Player Complaints About Training
“What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice?!” This infamous Allen Iverson quote can be directly applied to MyGM experience. Every player wants to be pushed differently, but despite setting up individual training routines and judiciously setting rest days, the most common meeting request from players is a whine session about practice either being too hard or too easy. The second you tweak your settings, like clockwork you can expect another player to come in your office and complain about the new regiment. You simply can’t win, and these annoyances play way too big a role in your decision-making process throughout the year. 

Smarter Ownership Goals 
Sometimes your owner can be a real jackass. For instance, during one offseason he wanted me to create a “big three,” with three players rated higher than 81 overall. My budding young team already had two players rated higher than 85 and two other young players with manageable salaries and high potential ratings already sitting at 81 overall. I ignored his dumb request to blow up the squad in favor of acquiring another star with a huge salary, and paid the price with a major drop in confidence. Bad ownership requests could be easily deflected if you had the ability to somehow state your case more effectively instead of the yes/no/maybe system that punishes you for failing the goal regardless of your answer to the question. 

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 and the ability to see what other offers the player has, but the game would benefit greatly if these discussions expanded even further. We’d love to have deeper talks about why our team is a good fit for the player, have to spend valuable hours in the opening of free agency courting targets at the expense of potentially losing out on others, having to recruit your star players to these pitch meetings, etc.. 

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 rather than continually making you throw either coaches, trainers, or finance guys under the bus. Visual Concepts should focus on these things instead of the vague questions about how the team is doing. 


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 where they can show off their basketball fashion skills 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.

Bring Back VIP Cards
Ever since 2K retired the VIP program in its football and basketball games, I’ve missed it. I love being able to save my own coaching settings for versus games and checking out the tendencies of opponents so you know what you’re getting into. I don’t know why Visual Concepts chose to retire this approach, but its return would be welcome. 

Keep Improving Server Stability
The NBA 2K servers are light years ahead of where they were previously, but they could still use fine-tuning to keep on-court action smooth and server response times for game mode loads fast.  

What are your thoughts on how NBA 2K18 could improve? Share them in the comments section below.