Title: NBA 2K20
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Version Tested: Xbox One
Official Site: https://nba.2k.com/en-US/
Release Date: September 6th, 2019
Where to Buy: Microsoft Store, PS Store, eShop, Steam, Retail
NBA 2K20 is a game with some excellent ideas but, unfortunately, it ends up feeling like past 2K experiences.
Microtransactions and the NBA 2K20 MyTeam Controversy
Let’s just get right into it and talk about one of the most controversial topics of the gaming industry today. Microtransactions. This has been a major component of the NBA 2K franchise for years. And that doesn’t change with NBA 2K20.
Whether it’s MyTeam, MyCareer, or in any of the other various modes NBA 2K20 has to offer, it’s Virtual Currency (VC) is front and present. In this writer’s opinion, this is probably the #1 reason behind the lack of innovation in the sports game genre.
Then there is MyTeam, your Madden Ultimate Team game mode where you collect your favorite players and create your own fantasy lineup to play either online or against the CPU. Just as it was said in our Madden 20 review, if you are already a fan of modes like this, you’ll probably enjoy MyTeam this year. If you hate this mode’s existence, you probably won’t pull a 180 here. As for the controversy with the casinos and whether or not it should be rated-E for Everyone, it’s just another example of modes such as this being the #1 priority for sports games.
Couple these microtransactions casting a shadow over your screen with the recent casino controversy in the game’s MyTeam and you have a sports title that is already behind on the scoreboard, so to speak.
Slower-Paced Gameplay is an Excellent Idea but it Stumbles in Execution
NBA 2K20 has major problems and we shouldn’t discount that but it isn’t too shabby from a gameplay standpoint. I understand that this isn’t a ringing endorsement of an epic gameplay experience but it is a pretty big step up from previous NBA 2K titles.
Animations, player speed, and your release speed are all somewhat slowed down, which is a bit awkward and clunky at first until you realize that this was done to help take away a few ‘exploits’ that you would often encounter online. It seemed that nearly everyone in MyCareer last year was able to pull up like Steph Curry and hit contested 3s from half-court. And in Online Play Now, you would always see your opponent swing left and right in jarring motions as an attempt to get enough space for an open shot.
The slower pace makes these exploits really difficult and it allows for more realistic shooting. It also emphasizes defense and finishing at the rim. That’s all fantastic in theory but NBA 2K20 has had a plethora of problems during its launch so far that takes the focus away from the improvements.
These issues include unstable servers, dreadfully long loading times, and balancing issues (particularly with missing wide-open mid-range jumpers and lay-ups despite a full shooting meter and high ratings). The game has already undergone a few patches to rectify these mistakes and there’s a good chance that the 2K team makes more changes by the time this review is out. But right now, the gameplay is what it is. A decent upgrade from previous NBA 2K games with the potential to be much… much better.
As for the servers and the recent #Fix2K20 trend, I can’t say I blame fans who are upset. In some cases, you can let unstable servers on launch week slide as they’ll usually get fixed with time. However, NBA 2K games have been riddled with connection issues for years at this point and it’s disappointing to see that continue with this installment.
A More Polished MyGM Mode
NBA 2K20 has a lot to like and a lot to hate but the MyGM mode definitely goes into the former category. For someone who enjoys the micromanagement of playing as a GM for a sports franchise, NBA 2K20’s MyGM is a dream come true. In this mode, which ditches its lackluster story that was present in 2K18 and 2K19, you handle day-to-day operations and try to keep your organization happy all while trying to build a competent championship team.
Keeping up with the relationships of those in my organization and other teams’ GMs is tough, leading to many mistakes along the way. My one gripe is that the written dialog between you and members of your organization is extremely repetitive. You’ll find yourself just tapping buttons in an attempt to skip it after the third or fourth conversation.
Like every other NBA 2K, MyLeague is the MyGM-lite of NBA 2K20. It’s more customizable and requires less attention than the MyGM mode. Still, MyLeague is fun for those who enjoy the franchise experience without the time to get through hours of meetings and press conferences in the MyGM mode.
All in all, these two modes aren’t too different from their predecessor, NBA 2K19. As mentioned above, it’s just polished. In most cases, I would be more upset at this but this is one of the few things the NBA 2K series consistently gets right year-to-year. It’s definitely a more enjoyable franchise mode than something like the Madden franchise.
MyCareer, Probably the Reason You’re Reading This Review
The NBA 2K series has become synonymous with its career mode, titled MyCareer or MyPlayer, for a few years now. It’s probably the main reason many people buy this game in the first place.
During the story, you play as Che, a veteran college athlete who chooses to stand up for a teammate and it costs you nearly everything. You’ll have to claw your way up the draft boards with stellar play and smart decisions off the court to hear your name on draft night, starting your legendary journey into the NBA.
The story is entertaining at times but ultimately forgettable aside from its amazing main cast, which includes the likes of Idris Elba, Rosario Dawson, and Thomas Middleditch. These three keep the narrative alive and are the only things I still remember vividly. As a bit of a side note from this review, Hollywood, please cast these actors in more stuff. They are awesome.
One of the best things NBA 2K20 has going for it, outside of the slower-paced gameplay and MyGM, is the easier grind for your MyPlayer. NBA 2K19 featured an unbearable grind and, to have any chance of being good on the court, you either had to dump 40+ hours into the game or $30 of real-world money. NBA 2K20 features a much easier grind for your build and you’ll find yourself nearing a 70-75 overall in no time. Badges and the road to 99 after you hit that 80 overall benchmark is another story but, look at the bright side. You’ll still have something to strive towards while playing your 3rd or 4th season and you won’t be terrible in the Park.
Speaking of the Park, although it hasn’t changed much at all from a visual standpoint, the changes to your rep and the removal of records while trying to hop into a game has made for a (slightly) less toxic experience online. As for Pro-Am, the addition of a 3v3 mode was a good compromise for those who disliked the 5-player mandatory system in 2K19. My only grievances here is a lack of new customization options in the Park and Pro-Am, along with the seemingly copy and pasted Park from last year’s game. Yes, I know that the Park will most likely change with new events and seasons as the year goes along but, this is what the Park looks like right now and it’s worth pointing out.
The removal of archetypes and the freedom to create any kind of player you want is another wonderful idea. Having the ability to craft my player from appearance to overall potential to even my takeover badge gives me more control over my player and that’s always pretty cool.
Verdict: NBA 2K20 is a mixed bag. The gameplay is an upgrade from previous installments but it can be so much better with some tweaks. MyCareer, MyGM, and MyLeague are all fun game modes to play through for various reasons but this game has too many issues to ignore. Connection outages, numerous glitches, blatant microtransactions, long load times, and just a few frustrating gameplay mechanics all keep NBA 2K20 away from a 3-star rating.
- Slower-paced gameplay and shooting
- MyCareer, MyGM, and MyLeague are all fun modes
- The MyCareer mode has a few fantastic additions and a much more tolerable grind
- Pro-Am and the Park
- Connection problems and a surplus of other similar issues
- Microtransactions and MyTeam
- The MyCareer narrative was forgettable, for the most part
- The gameplay could probably use a few tweaks
- No big changes to the look of the Park at launch and not many new customization items (appearance, Pro-Am, accessories, etc.)