Basketball is one of the two things in my life that I am truly passionate about, so naturally, I get NBA2K and put hundreds of hours into the game every year. Being that 2k19 had been out for a year, I was naturally excited for 2k20, as I had grown tired of many of the things in 2k19 like the extremely annoying illegal screens that were added in the middle of the year. So now that I have nearly 40 hours in the game, how does 2k20 hit?
This is something the community at a base level is extremely divided on this year. There is an entirely new/upgrade badge system. In 2k19, without counting the personality badges there are a total of 37 gameplay badges. Now let’s compare that to 2k20, there are a total of 74(!!) gameplay badges. The badge system is so much better and more in-depth this year for specific situations. For example, the new “first step badge” gives players a small boost on the first step of driving past defenders, as is the case in real life with players such as Kyrie Irving and John Wall. The new “volume shooter” badge boosts shot percentages over a game and essentially forces shots. The new “Slippery off-ball” badge, well simply helps you move off-ball better, useful for players such as Steph Curry.
There are so many new badges, which really helps with certain aspects of the gameplay, although it does have its flaws and negative effects which I will get to later. So, the biggest complaint about the gameplay from many people is that it is “too slow”. Do I agree with this? Well yes, but really no. I don’t think the game is too slow, I think the new speed is fine in modes such as Play Now and MyTeam and that you simply need to be more strategic with your stamina this year. You can’t and shouldn’t turbo down the court as you will move slowly and have less stamina. However, in modes like Park, it is too slow, and I fully expect the speed to be tweaked at some point. (At the time of writing this is it September 8th and we still haven’t received a day one patch)
So, let’s go more in-depth with the gameplay. Can you make layups this year? Yes, layups work like 2k19 and you can still make them as opposed to 2k18 where you couldn’t make layups at all, so no worries there.
Can you make open shots? This is a tougher one, yes, but no. This year it appears that badges are way more important than ratings, as they simplified the ratings and removed things such as “Moving shot three” “Contested shot three” and “Open shot three”, this year it is simplified back to how it was in much earlier years to just being “Three Point Shot Rating”.
So that’s where the new badge system comes into play more, if you have gold and Hall of Fame shooting badges that improve your ability to make shots, you will make them. However, if you just have a really good three-point rating, and no badges or bronze badges, you WILL miss a lot of wide-open shots. This is INCREDIBLY frustrating because players like JR Smith, who are really good three-point shooters (at least he was back in the day) will miss a lot of wide-open shots, just because he doesn’t have as good badges because he isn’t an elite player overall. Another giant change is the dribbling, its more different than previous years, as it somewhat relies on badges and whatever specific moves the player has equipped. It is harder to dribble, but frankly I am fine with it as it introduces a wider skill gap, and you just must practice and figure out and you’ll get it.
The AI in the game is MUCH improved this year in my opinion. Let’s say you’re on a fast break and driving down the court in 2k19, there a guy in front of you, he might contest you, but more than likely if he isn’t your direct man then you’ll be able to run past him and drive, and people didn’t really get in proper places on defense and move in the way of the offense.
This year in 2k20 that guy will switch onto you and he will BECOME your defender, and your primary defender in transition will pick up another man. Does this lead to mismatches? Yes, but that’s how basketball is played, the defense shouldn’t uncontest you just because you’re not the defender’s man. One thing I have been BEGGING for, for years has finally been added. In previous years say its Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green all running the floor on a fast break, they all run into the paint, bringing their man and clogging up the paint therefore ruining the fast break. Where do they run this year you ask? THE CORNERS! Rejoice 2k fans, finally the three-point shooters go to the corners or three-point line for you to dish to them or have an emptier paint.
However, and you’re going to notice a pattern here that with an improvement comes a negative, despite the AI being much better the glitch from 2k17 is back. The AI love to double team, for no reason, even going as far to double team you before half court. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world, if you’re playing MyCareer and you have like 6 points on 3-11 shooting, the AI might decide just to double team you for literally no reason, frankly I don’t know how this got past testing because it affects multiple modes. Say you’re playing MyTeam, and you’re playing as D-Wade trying to score with him and evolve his card, you just keep getting double-teamed. However, this comes with a caveat that we have been told that the engineers are aware of this, and the fix will be implemented next patch.
Other gameplay things to note, illegal screens are back. However, unlike 2k19, I don’t really have a problem with them this year. Last year I would AVERAGE three illegal screens a game. This year I will experience one every 3-5 games, with much more define animations, so it doesn’t bother me as much. Another extremely frustrating thing in 19, was the fact that your AI would constantly reach in and foul, seemingly every 5 seconds.
This year they still do it, but yet again it is FAR LESS frequent so it doesn’t really bother me, bump steals have also been nerfed. The screening system and calling plays has also been complicated yet simplified. In previous years you would press the screen button and would be able to immediately choose whatever player you wanted a screen from pressing their button, this year if you press the screen button you get a list of quick plays. If you want to call a play or receive a screen from a specific player though you must press the screen button, then click positional plays, then click the player for a screen or plays. The caveat to this is once you get there, calling plays for a specific player is easier as you don’t have to scroll and you can just click something like “Floppy” so it’ll automatically do a *Good* play the get the player open.
Call me a noob, but MyCareer is always one of my most preferred modes over park, pro-am, and MyTeam. So, let’s start with the story, this always seems to be up and down from decent to pure cringe. This year the story is neither, it is legitimately good. Doing work to get drafted is back, which I like because getting drafted and turning into a star Is personally way more appealing than playing in China, G-League, or the street and turning into a star. The story this year stars some big names such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson and shows your character “Che” journey as a leader and fight getting drafted. Not gonna go into any spoilers, but I will say this is one of the longest MyCareer stories in a while. There are so many cutscenes that for a second you may forget you’re playing a game. I like this though, as like I said before the story this year is legitimately good, however for those of you that just aren’t interested in the story, the option to just skip the cutscenes is there.
This year, they finally scrapped the terrible archetype systems (Yay!) and added a new MyPlayer builder system. I cannot stress enough how much better this system is. You get to pick from many pie charts and pick one and set your own skill caps and pick what badges you want and not have them predetermined based on your archetype. Due to this, for the first time since 2k16, I was having so much fun playing MyCareer again because I can make layups and three-point shots at a high clip, once I got the proper badges. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, we need custom pie charts like Ronnie2k (the community manager) promised we would get, but it is still much better than 2k17-2k19 Archetype systems.
So, is it grindy this year? Yes, but it is always grindy and to be fair the grind is honestly much improved from previous years. I’m getting a lot of sponsorships, and a lot of VC from games still. Things are less expensive in the mode too, and you even get your first haircut free. In 2k19 100,000 VC would only get you to a 75 overall, by comparison in 2k20 it gets you to an 82 overall to start, so just from that you can see the prices are better. Due to the new badge system, they are grindy as well, if you’re not playing MyCareer as you hardly earn any progress in modes that aren’t MyCareer. So, if you only want to play park then sorry, you are out of luck you’re hardly gonna get any badge progress. You need to play MyCareer games to get it and for me that is perfectly fine as I love MyCareer, but to those who don’t, you need to play it. So, take all that as you will.
Now let’s talk about the inevitable “But!” this game sadly must-have. An extremely annoying bug is that MyPlayer has had a bug since the very beginning of the story where he literally does not have a name, and based off twitter and others in the community, this seems to be a common glitch. There is no name on the back of my jersey or on the stats menu, it’s simply empty. This is a glitch I can live though, as it does not truly affect gameplay.
However, a glitch I can’t deal with is progression freezing, which is also an extremely common glitch, and lead to #Fix2K20 trending on twitter. There comes a certain point that the game stops displaying your progress. As in you play a full game, then do not get rewarded for it with no badge progress or more attribute upgrade progress, and it simply makes the mode unplayable as you don’t want to waste your time to not be able to upgrade. However, the monition to this is that I fully expect these two issues to get patched.
However I must review the game as it currently stands. Another issue that I have, that I am not entirely sure will get patched is the loading screen length, this I think has to do more with the servers, as on launch day I had no issues with this but as time has progressed it has gotten worse. If you want to upgrade your player, you must wait like 3 minutes (literally) for the menu to load, then another three for the attribute upgrades to apply, same with badges. I must think this will get fixed since it wasn’t bad originally, but I don’t know, and I must review it as it is now.
Park / Neighborhood
I only dip my toes in playing park a little every year, as it’s just not the mode I personally love, and it always frustrates me that I must wait so long to get into a game. But let’s talk about the positives, it’s still the core park gameplay of playing a game of 21 so if you love it, you will like this. Park Rep has made a long-awaited return after a few years, so hooray!
But the sad part is, it is the exact same neighborhood as last year. This wouldn’t bother me as much, as it is still as well designed as it was last year, and we will get many themes for it such as Christmas and Halloween and many more community days, unlike last year. However, I am forced to let it bother me as Ronnie2k said on a stream that it would not be the same neighborhood and parks. So due to the blatant false advertising, I am forced to let it annoy me. Another issue yet again that I expect to get patched is that like MyCareer progress getting frozen, it is also getting frozen on park as well. Meaning as you play the games you aren’t getting rep, or the small badge and attribute progress, which yet again also makes it unplayable despite the fact it can be enjoyable.
Some things to note about the gameplay for Park, this is the place where many of the “slow gameplay” complaints stem from, and unlike actual NBA Games in Play Now and MyTeam, I feel these are valid when used in the context of MyPark. This being because MyPark is naturally a more condensed experience as it is a game to 21. However, as I noted before the speed is only certainly going to be updated a little to appease these people, but as of now that’s how it is.
Other issues with park gameplay are the badges, as I said before I love the new system, but it does cause you to miss wide-open threes, and in-park there are variables you don’t really have to account for in offline modes like MyCareer, you’re playing against humans and they will close out on you faster. So, one of the biggest complaints that probably won’t get fixed is the new jump shot mechanics. The speed of your shot is no longer tied to the shot, it tied up to a badge. This is a negative and is just as bad idea as assigning free throws to a badge rather than a stat, that’s gone this year by the way thankfully. So now not only do you need to grind for badges that help you make open shots, you must use some of your limited badge slots and grinding time on making your shot faster. So yet again, take that as you will.
Sound, Presentation, and Graphics
One of the things early NBA 2Ks did to separate themselves from NBA Live and become king of the basketball genre is presentation, and that still reigns true today. The presentation is just as top-notch as ever with Kenny, Shaq, and Ernie still talking to you before games and David Aldridge interviewing people. The announcers are still fluid throughout the games, and there is updated dialogue to reflect the new season, and even a new pair of announcers for the entire WNBA which was added this year.
As for the sound, everything is also still superb. Nothing is sweeter than hearing the ball “swish” through the hoop. This is subjective, but I think this is the best soundtrack since 2k16 just from my 40 hours. And the graphics are still as amazing as they ever are, as this is expected of 2k. No complaints or glitches in any of these areas as they are all 10/10.
Play Now Online
Play Now Online used to be one of my favorite modes in the game until last year. It’s a relatively simple concept you would think, pick an NBA team, and play an online game against another team. Well, last year they decided to make a tier system that essentially ruined the mad, and sadly it is back again. In theory the tier system is a good idea as you will only play teams in your tier and I understand what they were going for, however, the execution is what was off and remains off. It used to be you would only play all-time teams if you picked that, current teams if you picked that, or classic teams if you picked that, and that definitely wasn’t perfect, but the new system remains worse.
Now a tier-three team is naturally one of the worst teams in the league, like the Hornets. However, the thing is, say you pick the Hornets you will get matched with other tier three teams. Sounds good right? But what 2k does is distributes all teams throughout the tiers, so all-time teams, and classic teams who were decent can be matched with you. So say you pick the worst team in the game, the Hornets, you can get matched up with an all-time team because they are in your tier, and it is incredibly frustrating and made me stop playing the mode last year as I don’t want to have such one-sided matchups it’s impossible for me to win. So, this mode remains a disappointment simply because it’s the same system people didn’t like last year, just please go back to the old play now online before this.
Another issue I want to point out with this mode is that currently the servers are so bad that most of the time you can’t even really get into a game and it will kick you out, or your game will crash, I expect this to be fixed though, but as of now the servers are very bad.
Play Now/Play With Friends/Blacktop/WNBA
So, the play now offline mode is great, it has a team select screen so you can see who your opponent is before you match up with them and you can pick a good matchup accordingly. It has a new jersey selection menu, which is great because it is more in-depth and you can customize socks, headbands, wrist apparel, etc. You can also control your lineups before loading into the game, so that is great.
It even added the WNBA, which is surprisingly fun to use as its new players I have never played with, new courts, and new commentators. Here’s the issue with the WNBA though, you can’t use them anywhere other than play now offline and MyLeague playoffs simulation, which no one will do. Which is so incredibly odd, as they were one of the biggest “Selling points” of this game. You cannot use them in play now online, play with friends, blacktop, MyTeam, do a full MyLeague with them, it is so odd, as they went through so much effort to add them and no one will likely experience them as they’re really only useable in play now offline.
Now Play with friends, it is what you would expect, you play with your friends, almost the same as last year so no complaints as you just use teams against your friends and go head to head. You can play team-ups and be certain players on a team. However, this mode is missing quality of life things. You can’t edit your lineups when you start a game, like you can in Play Now Online and Offline. You now can’t change jerseys anymore, as they made the new much-improved jersey system, but they didn’t apply it to when you play with friends, so it automatically picks your jersey now. I’ll add again that you can’t use WNBA teams against your friends. Frankly, it is just like, why? This is such a simple quality of life stuff that would really help the game.
And for blacktop, which is like an offline park mode, to 21 using real players, except the newly added WNBA players, it is the exact same (and basically copied and pasted) as it was last year, which was the same as it was in 2k18. So, take that as you will.
MyLeague is essentially the same this year as they focused on MyGM, so that’s truly rather sad. It’s still fun if you enjoyed it last year, but it’s the same ole MyLeague we are used to so there’s not much to say, other than I haven’t encountered the disappearing stats glitch that plagued me last year so yay, I guess.
This mode has always been the least favourite to the MyLeague community, MyLeague has always remained the superior way to build a team due to annoying things in MyGM like people always needing to talk to you. 2k put some real effort in the mode this year, so does it pan out? Ultimately, no, it falls flat in my opinion. There is an entirely new Action Points and upgrade system and you must go day by day, or week by week. The issue with this is it just makes your actions as the GM feel way more limited than they do in MyLeague.
They added a leaderboard, so if you were clamoring for that you have it! The useless conversations are still here sadly, and the fact you must go day by day or week by week almost certainly means I will never play because the loading time for this, especially week by week is just super bad. The new skill tree is just pointless skills, except for some necessary ones like trade finder. With all these attempted upgrades have come some bad customizable loss options that also really hurt the mode, you can no longer change the quarter length, can’t import custom roster, and you can’t change the difficulty. I appreciate the effort, but I don’t think any of the changes in this mode push it forwards, only backward. I truly hope they can find the right formula in the future because being a GM and caring about your job security and sales is a good idea, just not well executed. I still implore them to move the caring about money part to a version of MyLeague.
This mode is probably the most infamous, as you build your team by completing objectives or buying packs. I never really get into each year, as it is a bit too much for me and I enjoy the other modes more. The main reason I am not a fan of this mode is obviously the card packs cost a bit much VC, and it just feels grindy. I don’t want to play so many games of domination to get a certain player, especially while balancing contracts, as they are pointless, and they are just annoying. If they removed contracts, I would probably really get into it instead of dipping my toes in every once and a while.
For anyone that likes the mode and the grind of building your team, it seems mostly the same as last year. Although I do believe packs are even more expensive now and there is a very infamous slot machine in the mode now. However triple threat offline has been disabled because of a money glitch. I also want to note in here that 2k needs to reach out and get some big names for this mode, as they are losing players as time passes on. This year they lost Manu Ginobili, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, etc. Some big names that really hurt the mode and playing with classic teams. Last year we lost Chris Bosh, which really makes the 12-13 Heat unplayable and hurts MyTeam.