As a long-time NBA 2K player, I didn’t know what to expect going into NBA 2K22 on next-gen consoles. NBA 2K21 was frustrating, especially for those who played on current-gen systems. It also seemed that a lack of competition and the overbearing microtransactions had finally caught up to the series. So, is NBA 2K22 on next-gen just more of the same? Or, did developer Visual Concepts make some noticeable improvements for this year’s installment? Find out in our review.
NBA 2K22 is available on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Switch. Since there are several differences between the current-gen and next-gen versions, it’s important to note that this review is focusing on the next-gen edition.
To Put It Simply, NBA 2K22 Is Just Fun to Play
The NBA 2K series has always had issues with its gameplay, whether it be imbalanced shooting mechanics or dunking animations. Regardless of the mode you play, the AIs would be sitting ducks for more experienced players who knew the ins and outs of the game.
NBA 2K22 isn’t a perfectly balanced game. Certain builds are just better than others and there will always be players who attempt to use cheesy plays to rack up wins in the park areas. Nonetheless, despite these minor issues, NBA 2K22 is probably one of the most enjoyable basketball games I’ve played in quite some time. It didn’t matter if I was playing as a sharpshooting point guard or a rim-protecting center. There was something fun about playing any role on a team. And if you have ever played an NBA 2K game before, you would know that’s not always the case.
The shooting mechanics have been revamped and simplified. If you are open and have the necessary attributes, you’ll have a wider release window. And if you take dumb shot attempts due to low attributes or because a defender is quickly closing in on you, the shot meter will be much smaller and harder to nail down.
Driving to the rim, dribbling, and post moves have all been revamped as well, leading to an experience that’s built around shot IQ rather than just lucky animations. That being said, you will still encounter some fluky animations from time to time. There’s a huge emphasis on defense as well, which is where NBA 2K22’s gameplay really shines. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about shot IQ. If you can clamp up defenders or force a terrible shot, you’ll be able to dominate on the court.
Attributes like blocking and steals have been improved too. In the past, rim protectors could play excellent defense in the paint only to be thwarted by a cheesy animation from an incoming slasher. Here, unless the slasher finds some space to drive or has the badges to potentially win at the basket, the rim protector will probably come away with a block or a rebound. Although I haven’t had as much success with steals, it does seem like there’s a greater focus on making the trait more impactful (Especially when you are playing against a player who is driving to the rim).
Finally, there’s the improved AI. On offense, you’re constantly fighting for space to put up good shots. With defense, you have to make sure there are no lapses in coverage because the AI will make you pay for it.
Not every game is going to be a competitive, drag-out fight. But, almost every game you win feels earned. That’s because of the improved AI, the smoother animations, the emphasis on shot IQ, alongside the other gameplay changes on offense.
Additions To MyNBA Create A More In-Depth And Worthwhile Franchise Mode
NBA 2K22’s MyNBA is the game’s resident franchise mode. In MyNBA, players can craft and customize their own franchise from conference alignment to rule changes. You can add the ability to earn skills for your GM, adjust the training schedule for your roster, and even more role-playing elements.
Then, we have the new staff and prep hub systems. Picking out your staff is vastly important with the myriad of new positions in the front office, coaching staff, sports medicine, and scouting. This is how you’ll create the foundation of your team. For example, if you plan to completely rebuild, you can focus on the scouting and front office departments. Overall, this is a fantastic addition to the franchise model and gives the player a lot of options in how they want to build their team. Just be sure to pay attention to the tutorial because the staff screens can be very overwhelming.
The same can be said for the new prep hub. With this, you can adjust training schedules, game planning, and how the coach’s overall game plan meshes with the roster.
NBA 2K22’s MyCareer Mode Is Massive
The next-gen version of NBA 2K21 introduced The City, which was essentially just a much larger version of the Neighborhood on older consoles. This year, Visual Concepts have added more to The City to make it seem more lively. Now, The City is filled with various NPCs and optional quests to complete that will add to your player’s brand. On top of all that, you can always join in on ongoing modes like park games, the Rec Center, or Pro-Am.
Surprisingly, it’s fun to explore The City and see what it has to offer. However, over time, it does get a bit tedious due to limited fast travel options and some shameless advertisements.
NBA 2K22’s MyCareer narrative puts you in the shoes of MP, a street baller who is also an “influencer.” As MP, you will make your own path to the NBA. Dominate the college basketball scene and be a top pick. Or, you can enter the G-League and work your way to the draft from there. How you get to the NBA is up to you. And, as a new prospect in the NBA, you can decide how you want MP to be perceived. Do you want to be a no-nonsense NBA star? Or, do you want to dive into the music and fashion industries for more popularity and branding opportunities?
Unlike previous installments, NBA 2K22’s MyCareer puts a cinematic narrative on the back burner in favor of these player choices and optional quests. And ultimately, the mode thrives for that very reason.
Visual Concepts has also made some meaningful changes to the MyPlayer builder. Badge points have been increased, leading to more complex builds. Furthermore, players have now been given the ability to freely change their earned badges on the fly and even create build loadouts.
Overbearing Microtransactions Are Still A Major Part Of NBA 2K
Whether you’re playing park games in The City or joining a random Rec center game, it’s clear that the NBA 2K franchise still runs on Virtual Currency (VC) and microtransactions. Don’t get me wrong, NBA 2K22 makes a ton of improvements in terms of gameplay and other modes like MyNBA, MyCareer, MyTeam, and The W. But, for a next-gen game that costs $70 at launch, it’s disappointing to see microtransactions play such a pivotal role in MyCareer and other modes.
Moreover, PC users don’t even get the next-gen edition of NBA 2K22. Instead, they’re saddled with the current-gen version.
NBA 2K22 Is a Stunning Next-Gen Experience
NBA 2K22 is a spectacle. The visuals are amazing from the realistic player models to the detailed environments. As usual, the commentary adds to the gameplay experience instead of taking you out of it. The same can be said for the game’s overall presentation. There are team introductions, a halftime show (Featuring some of the hosts from NBA on TNT), sideline updates, and more.
It’s not necessarily new but, the presentation in NBA 2K22 is still among the best in sports games out there today.
All in all, NBA 2K22 on next-gen systems is the best NBA 2K game to release in years. The gameplay receives a much-needed revamp, leading to a fun experience for everyone regardless if you are playing as a primary scorer or defensive anchor. MyNBA gives players an in-depth and customizable franchise mode with some sweet additions like the new staff system. It may be overbearing at times but, MyNBA is a franchise mode worth trying out.
Sadly, even with all of these intriguing changes (such as the new additions to MyCareer), NBA 2K22 is brought down a bit by some blatant advertisements and annoying microtransactions.
- The changes to dribbling, driving to the rim, shooting, and defense
- New and improved AI
- MyCareer, MyNBA, MyTeam, and The W all receive some solid improvements
- Amazing visuals and presentation
- The series continues to shove microtransactions in your face
- Some minor gameplay and visual bugs