NBA Live 15
After a three-year hiatus, NBA Live returned last year, but it was a rough comeback attempt for EA Sports. Nonetheless, the company is still determined to become a series competitor in the basketball simulation space once again. With another year under its belt, EA Tiburon feels the gameplay and visuals are taking important steps forward with Live 15. We’re not getting a deep dive on gameplay until later in the month, but we still learned some critical information regarding how the team hopes to improve on the court this year. Here are all the details we know about the game thus far:
- EA Tiburon invested in a different scanning technology for NBA Live 15 to drastically improve the player models. This change addresses every single asset in the game, from faces, hair, bodies, and skin to clothing, footwear, and accessories.
- Facial performances looks much more believable in the brief demo we saw. Players’ eyes track the basketball, and they react with emotion after making big plays.
- The commentary team of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy returns. Given last year’s wooden performances, this year EA’s focus is on getting more banter injected in the proceedings. The two are spending more time recording side by side, and like NBA 2K, that dialogue between the two can be interrupted when something significant happens on the court.
- Jalen Rose returns as the master of ceremonies as well. EA plans to continue to deliver live commentary updates with Rose throughout the year to recognize league happenings and call out users who have made remarkable accomplishments within the game.
- The developers have completely overhauled the passing game and added more control back from Live 10, which to many was the last decent basketball effort from EA.
- To make dribbling moves, you simply need to flick the right analog stick right or left, not unlike the old freestyle controls.
- Short adjustment steps on defense should allow you to keep better positioning on defense. EA hopes you can stay in front of ball handlers using just the left analog stick.
- Defense is more active, with jostles and dribble bumps.
- EA is placing a big emphasis on transitional animations to make the action look more believable. This obviously includes getting rid of instances where players take shots with their backs to the basket, a particularly egregious animation foul that occurred last year.
- To cut down on clipping animations in the paint, EA has added physics to any player taking or contesting a shot. Now when players collide, the position of their forearms and hands are taken into account throughout the shot attempt.
- Taking a page from the seldom-heralded NCAA Basketball 10, Live 15 introduces new quick-action strategies that send a makeshift offense into motion at the tap of a button.
- EA is also integrating some play-calling icons into the game to give you better visual clues on how a play is supposed to develop. You can turn these on or off in the settings.
- EA says Live Seasons and Big Moments proved to be popular with gamers last year, so expect more of the same in Live 15.
- Given the popularity of Ultimate Team, Live Seasons, and Rising Star, by default Dynasty is becoming less prominent in the development cycle. That said, the team is determined to fix the sim engine so it creates better results with the right teams winning and more believable player movement through trades and free agency.
- EA has not altered the trade mechanics to let you include future draft picks.
- Much like FIFA and Madden have done in recent years, NBA Live 15 has a new on-boarding process that can teach new players the basic controls or educate returning players on how to use advanced controls through both minigames and five-on-five scrimmages.
- Fans of the EASBL will have to wait another year before the mode returns. EA wants to wait until the head-to-head online competitions, general gameplay, and visuals are up to par before investing in online team play.
- Ultimate Team is receiving an auction house this year, but no standalone app on mobile phones or tablets.
- Don’t expect Rising Star to follow in the footsteps of NBA 2K’s MyCareer mode. EA has no plans to integrate cutscenes into the mode. For Live 15, the developers are focusing on improving the performance tracking.
- EA Tiburon plans to launch a free trial on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 so people can experience the game before buying.
If you want to learn more about what went wrong with Live 14, how EA Tiburon is adjusting to make a better game with Live 15, and how the development culture is changing under the leadership of new CEO Andrew Wilson, read our in-depth interview with executive producer Sean O’Brien.