NBA 2K24 Review – No slam dunk

September has arrived, and that means a new NBA 2K has been released just like every year. NBA 2K24 builds on last year’s game. Despite many things looking the same, plenty of big changes have been made to this basketball game’s biggest game modes, and the gameplay has evolved a lot again.

More realistic than ever

Indeed, gameplay is now a bit smoother and diat is due to the new ProPlay system the developers have been using since this year. This converts footage from real NBA games into animations so that they can be incorporated directly into the game. This is a very big improvement, as the basketball players now play almost exactly as they do in real life. A jump shot from Stephen Curry in NBA 2K24, for example, now looks and works almost exactly the same in-game as that of the real NBA star.

Since he is arguably the best shooter to ever play in the NBA, this ensures that his jumpshot may now be too good. As a fan of the NBA, this is just really cool to see and it makes every player in the game even more unique now. Furthermore, the graphics are also a little better again, but not so much that it is immediately noticeable.

Less story, more basketballs

As every year, the new NBA 2K is packed with all kinds of game modes. Therefore, it is a good idea to go through them all one by one, with first up: MyCareer. In this mode, you create your own player to make a debut in the NBA with it. This is one of the most played modes in 2K’s game. It’s back again this year, but in a slightly different form.

Indeed, personally, I just wanted to create my own player and play basketball with it, instead of having to rap with famous hip-hop artists.

For example, the focus now is a lot less on a storyline and much more on playing the games. The story is still there, but there are fewer scenes and characters. In the previous few games, there was a whole storyline and you often had to do quests before you could start the next game at all. This change is a big improvement. After all, personally, I just wanted to create my own player and play basketball with it, instead of having to rap with famous hip-hop artists. It’s an NBA game for a reason.

Another big plus to MyCareer this year, is that you no longer have to play all 82 games in a season. It is now possible to play only the so-called “key games” in which your character competes against the biggest names in the NBA. How your basketball player performs in the games you skip is automatically generated and this is based on how you did in the previous games. This system works fine and it’s nice that it allows you to play through a season faster and finally finish it once and for all.

Team play

In addition to MyCareer, much has changed in the MyTeam gamemode. Perhaps the biggest news of NBA 2K24 is that the auction house has been replaced by the “player market” and this has some advantages, but also some disadvantages. Normally, you got the basketball players from packs or bought over players through the auction house. The packs are still there of course, but the player market is slightly different from the auction house. In fact, all players are now simply for sale and the price you pay for them is determined by 2K.

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The nice thing about this is that the basketball players can now be gotten for normal prices and not for the unrealistic amounts the players were selling them for. This makes it much more accessible for even new players to buy their favorite NBA star. The downside, however, is that all basketball players can now be bought with real money and this was not necessarily the case before. It may not surprise anyone, but 2K has found yet another way to make the game even more pay-to-win.

Ridiculous microtransactions

Indeed, microtransactions are something the publisher is not averse to in the NBA 2K games. Now that players are easy to get with real money, it is actually possible to buy everything in the game. As in previous years, it is again possible to give your player a big boost in MyCareer, while other players have to grind for hours and hours for the same result. Boosting your player’s skills is certainly not cheap, as a reasonable player will cost you an extra 30 to 50 euros. The bad thing is that some players actually do this, so in the open world you will encounter opponents who are unbeatable on the field.

Furthermore, the game apparently doesn’t cost enough yet, because 2K has decided to add a battle pass for the first time this year. With this, for 10 euros per season, you can get additional rewards when completing levels. Fortunately, in season 1 it only contains cosmetics, but that is not a certainty for the future.

A fair game

If you only play the single-player games in MyTeam, you’re hardly bothered by the microtransactions. The same goes for MyTeam’s new multiplayer salary cap mode. This is a gamemode in which all players have been given a certain value and thus you have to build a team without going above a certain budget. This is a very nice addition to the game and for me makes this year’s multiplayer really entertaining.

Matches last shorter since you play one quarter and then a random number of points is distributed that one of the two players must get to first to win the game. Additionally, salary cap also feels very balanced and at least I don’t get completely destroyed by online players, but win about as much as I lose so far. It has been the perfect choice to introduce this gamemode along with the new playermarket.

More MT, less XP

The way you earn in-game money (MT) to buy players, and the leveling system have also been completely overhauled in NBA 2K24. The amount of MT you get per game has become a lot more. This helps with buying players on the player market and makes the game just a little bit better, as it feels like you are really being rewarded for playing a game and before this did not feel like that at all.

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What I am personally less of a fan of is the new XP system. In previous years, every week, weekend and season you were given different missions to accomplish and only in this way could you earn XP. So it was fun to look forward to new missions. The missions are still there, but you now get other rewards instead of XP. You get the points in 2K24 simply by playing matches. Also, the amount of XP you get is greatly reduced and grinding levels is a lot slower. This just makes it demotivating to become as high a level as possible every season.

The reason the creators chose to give less XP is probably because the level progression of MyCareer and MyTeam are now merged. Previously, these were two separate systems, each with their own missions to complete. This year, every level you complete gives you a reward in both MyCareer and MyTeam. The only annoying thing is that in NBA 2K24, you will be at a considerable disadvantage if you were only actively playing one of the two game modes before. So in my opinion, this leveling system is not a success at all and may be reversed next year.

MyNBA is more accessible

Besides the two major modes, there are two more game modes worth mentioning. First up is MyNBA, of course, back. In this gamemode, you manage the business branch of an NBA team. This is quite a complicated gamemode in which you can do a lot. Apparently the creators knew that too, so they introduced a more accessible variant called MyNBA Lite.

In it, you perform only the easy and perhaps most interesting tasks of a general-manager: trading and drafteeing new players. This helps with making this complicated gamemode more accessible and introduces new players to MyNBA, which is itself a gamemode that is great in its own right. The downside to the Lite variant, however, is that you can only manage teams in the modern era, whereas in the normal MyNBA you can also do so in the era of, say, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Tribute to the Mamba

Speaking of Kobe Bryant, there is a new gamemode in NBA 2K24 this year that pays tribute to the NBA star. This is Mamba Moments, which is similar to last year’s Jordan Challenges. In this mode, you play through the highlights of Kobe Bryant’s career. Number 24 was the basketball icon’s back number and hence he plays a major role in this year’s NBA 2K game.

Mamba Moments is a very fun game mode that is well put together. The image quality and layout of the screen accurately mimics the original broadcasts of the games. The challenges you have to complete during these matches are all original as well. For example, the first game you play through is special because Kobe scored 48 points and made 10 rebounds there. This is exactly what you have to do in the game to pass the challenge. Again, like last year’s Jordan Challenges, it is an entertaining little gamemode to play through and a good addition to the NBA 2K games.

All in all, NBA 2K24 is another fine game in the NBA 2K series. The game feels better and is more realistic than ever due to ProPlay. In addition, there are great changes to MyTeam, MyCareer and MyNBA that make the game modes more accessible to players. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to these changes that make the game even more pay-to-win. Lastly, the new Mamba Moments gamemode is incredibly beautiful. In short, NBA 2K24 is recommended for both returning players and new players, especially if you stick to the single player and salary cap gamemode.

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