Yes, it’s that time of the year again! The time when developers splash a new coat of paint on a few notorious game franchises belonging to extremely popular genres, and charge full price for them and call it a day.
But is NBA 2K23 part of the same heap of unoriginality? Is it a different splash of paint on a previous title once again, or did the developers finally manage to knock out a fantastic title that also wasn’t predatory in nature? Let’s delve deeper into our NBA 2K23 review to find out.
NBA 2K23 is developed by studio Visual Concepts and published by 2k Games for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The game comes with a whopping 6 different editions which are:
- Standard Edition.
- Digital Deluxe Edition.
- WNBA Edition.
- Championship Edition.
- Michael Jordon Edition.
- Dreamer Edition.
Each edition comes with also comes its own set of perks and price points. The game boasts 5 different gameplay modes, including the return of a certain fan-favorite one. The Jordan Challenge as it is called, was last seen in NBA 2K11. It makes an explosive return in this entry, and it includes 15 distinct games from the legendary Michael Jordan’s career.
The visuals in this mode also have a unique filter applied to them, reflecting the era of his golden days, which is a really neat touch.
My Career is the most popular game mode among NBA fans, and the developers did not shy away from fanservice here either. After creating your custom character you can directly jump into the League and make your way up the ladder. The story is still there, and is nothing too groundbreaking, but serves the purpose of augmenting the overall gameplay experience.
The open-world online city hub has also seen some nice improvements. It is smaller than the one in the previous entries, making traversal faster and much more tolerable. The big cities in the previous games never made much sense. They were mostly empty and were a pain to move across. There are a lot more new activities too, such as the Theater and the NBA Arena where players can take part in different game modes.
This game mode, as expected, suffers from microtransactions which might take away from the experience for many.
For My Team, players build their roster from a deck of cards, and yes you guessed it right, this game mode is infested with pay-to-win microtransactions. These will for sure become more prevalent as we move further away from the release date.
Although the presence of pay-to-win content is glaring, credit should be given where it is due. The mode has received the most changes out of all the others (for the better I might add). The new Triple Threat Online Co-op feature introduces 3v3 online co-op, allowing you to squad up with two of your friends to play matches against another theam. Contracts are no more, which has been requested by fans for a long time, and the addition of the Clutch Time for single-player is also quite a welcome change.
The new My NBA Eras mode allows you to play in four popular eras, which brought the NBA to the public spotlight. These are The Magic vs Bird Era, the Jordon Era, the Kobe Era, and the Modern Era.
Players step into the shoes of selective teams and rebuild them to their liking. Each era also has visual filters which align with that time period, greatly increasing immersion.
The WNBA game mode is back and more expansive than ever with weekly goals, seasons, and online play. WNBA is gaining traction these days and it is great to see the developers focusing more on it.
This area of this game has seen quite a few changes as well, for the better I might add, but it is a little controversial. The moment-to-moment gameplay is less arcadey and a little slower, moving ever closer to real basketball, which might turn off a few old-timers as previous NBA games have taken some liberties. But for some, this might seem like a step in the right direction. Aside from that, the improved shooting mechanics, AI animations, and smoother dribbling make for a much more fulfilling gameplay experience.
Perhaps the biggest change in NBA 2k23 is the inclusion of Adrenaline Boosts under the stamina bar which consists of three separate bars. This is a welcome change as it discourages dribble spamming. Each time a player performs an explosive sprint launch or hard go, one bar is consumed, forcing players to act more intelligently. Consuming all 3 bars results in a significant reduction to your acceleration and speed.
The developers are also overhauling the badge system, by changing the attributes of a number of existing badges and grouping them into different tiers.
Other changes include a better combo lineup, and the addition of shooting attributes, which determine the effectiveness of a jump shot.
Visuals and Performance
Usually, the graphics are of the least concern in sports games, as most of them release yearly with small graphical upgrades, suppressing their visual novelty. But how could we call this our NBA 2K23 review if we didn’t dissect it properly?
The game is no different from other titles in its genre. The graphics are certainly an improvement over NBA 2K22, but the visual upgrade is subtle and barely noticeable. However, if you take a step back and consider it independent of the last few entries, you’ll definitely notice that the series has come quite a ways in terms of graphical fidelity.
The player AI animations also underwent significant upgrades. The AI is much more responsive, and this improvement is reflected in the pose they form while getting ready to attack, making it much easier to read their movements. Sure there are a few hiccups such as players stopping in their tracks suddenly, but hey! at the end of the day, it’s still a video game.
I play-tested the game on an i7 6700 with an NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1060 6GB and received flawless 60 fps performance at 1080p, both in single-player and online. But for the sake of this NBA 2K23 review, I’ll let you know that multiple people have reported crashes, framerate dips, and online connection problems.
It is pertinent to mention here that PC and Nintendo Switch will be running the previous-gen version of the game. The next-gen version will only be available on Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5, even though modern PCs can handle next-gen. This news is quite disturbing and has left many PC players feeling like second-grade citizens.
Lo and behold, It is time to sum up our NBA 2K23 review. There is a lot to take in here. This certainly is one of the best NBA games in recent years.
The developers have portrayed their love for this genre and have improved a multitude of things ranging from gameplay improvements to the addition, and removal, of many fan-requested features. WNBA is getting the love it deserves and the developers have pulled on the nostalgic heartstrings of many fans with the return of the Jordan Challenge and the addition of My NBA Eras game mode. But do these improvements really justify the 70$ price tag for the standard edition on the Xbox Series X/S, and the PlayStation 5? I think not!
Because if we look beneath the surface, the microtransactions are more predatory than ever, which really defeats the purpose of spending hours building a roster for online play, because one’s opponent might have built a potentially better roster with minimal effort by paying out a few bucks. Also, the mind-boggling number of special editions for this game (which makes little sense) does not help improve the company’s image.
The developers are clearly treating this as a live-service game, so unless you are a big NBA fan, it is better to wait for a sale and see how the development progresses.
We hope you found our NBA 2K23 review useful. Keep an eye out for more NBA 2K23 guides coming up! You can also check out some of our other reviews.
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NBA 2K23 Review
While the new gameplay improvements may be fun, under the surface this is still the same experience as its always been. The heavy dose of microtransactions are simply another aspect that sours the experience.
- Improved AI And Shooting Mechanics.
- Addition of New game modes.
- Improvement of Already Existing Game Modes.
- Addition of Some Much-Requested Features.
- Microtransaction Infestation.
- Multiple Confusing Editions.
- PC Version Receiving Previous-Gen Treatment.