Considering the annual releases, we believe an overly detailed introduction isn’t needed for NBA 2K. Due to a lack of any actual competition, 2K Games cemented their spot at the top of sports sims with the quality and complexity of game mechanics with NBA 2K.
On the other hand, the monopoly they have allowed them to push microtransactions further and further with each passing year, which is rightfully annoying gamers. Some might consider it a small detail, but it completely kills the vibe in Online modes.
Let’s start from the beginning. NBA 2K20 is, as always, almost perfectly presented, from the moment you start the game, across the gameplay, to the smallest details both on, and off, the field.
Due to the previously mentioned monopoly 2K has with NBA 2K, they decided to take the approach EA has with FIFA, i.e. adding the bare minimum and calling it a new game. So far, its been working, and it probably will work for a while longer since the target audience has no other game to go to.
It’s safe to say that the gameplay mechanics have peaked and that it was time to switch to developing some of the other game modes being offered. Considering that not much had to be done gameplay wise, the dev team had the liberty to work on new things that will bring in new audiences while still keeping NBA 2K veterans interested.
The only gameplay changes made are there to make the game more dynamic. None of them affect the speed or fluidity of the game, they just bring the game closer to something you might see while watching an NBA match.
One of the main improvements is the new dribbling system that will make you consider what player you’re using for what situation. Obviously, it’s worth noting that the player animations and reactions are very fluid.
The other big change is the Badge system, which gives players specific advantages over opposing players. Besides the basic stats, star players will certain boosts that make their gameplay slightly different. Some of the possible boosts are quicker recoveries, speed boosts after passing opponents, better block chances, and so on. It really makes you think about which player will you be using at any given moment. The increase in strategic thinking during gameplay is deeply appreciated.
All of these gameplay changes contribute to the feeling of authenticity and they fit right in when playing multiplayer. Every online win has a rewarding feel because you didn’t just run around with your best player, instead you had to focus on using the entire team while still trying to stop your opponent.
A big addition to this year’s release is the WNBA league. The gameplay feels spot on to the real deal. It’s slower and more tactical, so it requires more patience.
MyLeague, MyTeam, and MyCareer
My Career follows a new story compared to previous games, which is great. The acting is, thank God, improved and the story makes more sense. Some Hollywood stars are featured, including Idris Elba as one of the team managers.
The best part of this mode is the NBA Draft and the testing of your player. This entire section of the mode is probably the most satisfying too, because besides the updated mini-games, you receive some insight on how the drafting process looks.
MyLeague received the least changes, almost like the dev team focuses only on the modes that earn the most money through microtransactions, and not the ones that make the biggest difference and actually contribute to the players experience. The entire mode is simply copy-pasted from 2K19 which is disappointing for a AAA game.
On the other hand, MyTeam is now completely ruined. The mode that really differentiates the series from any other has been absolutely bombarded with microtransactions. Most of the mode is represented by a glorified casino. Everything spins and everything is asking you for more and more money, so either pay up to improve your team or good luck with the insane grind.
There are no words that can describe the blatant money grab this mode is. It’s not even subtle, it’s right in your face. “Give us money.”
And that leaves MyPlayer which is the same as it was in previous entries of the series. The updates made to gameplay mechanics in other modes are present here too, which does bring some slight differences to the actual gameplay.
Unfortunately, it also has the microtransaction problem, but less obvious than in MyTeam. You absolutely can play without spending money, but when you go online you will without a doubt notice if someone spent $50 to make sure he has the best player.
The microtransactions give an obvious gameplay advantage. Usually the players that spend that kind of money are the ones that just want to win based on pure stats instead of putting some thought into tactics.
All of the modes that include microtransactions could have been made better and monetized in different ways. Unfortunately, it seems the industry will push this trend until governments ban such a practise, since it is quite clearly gambling.
In conclusion, NBA 2K20 is a mixed bag containing some fun new gameplay and horrible microtransactions in half of all the available modes. That wouldn’t even be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that most of the improvements made to gameplay weren’t in those very game modes that constantly ask you for money. It is unacceptable for a AAA game with a $60 price tag to ask you for money while playing so that you can get the “true experience”.
The only reason this is happening is because NBA 2K20 doesn’t have any competition and it’s sad that such a great game is ruined by an abundance of microtransactions and the dev team focusing on all of the wrong things.
Keeping everything mention in mind, all of the improvements made—of which none are groundbreaking—are overshadowed by the blatant money grab this game turned into, so it's hard to give this game more than a 6.5/10.