Visual Concepts came to an important but necessary conclusion with NBA 2K24: it needed to bring back the superfluous aspects of the series. For the past two years, specifically on PS5, the popular MyCAREER mode at launch has wanted to address all aspects of basketball, including cultural aspects such as fashion and music. This year’s game, however, focuses entirely on the court and, as a solo experience, is much better.
Your singular goal is to become the GOAT, and you’ll play through your avatar’s personal highlight reel to achieve it. While there is a story, involving your father and grandfather, who were NBA legends in their own right, there is less nonsense, allowing you to focus on the good, which is playing for your chosen team. You can simulate key matchups, further accelerating the pace of your campaign.
Of course, all the old criticisms persist. While you will earn a small denomination of currency for completing in-game tasks, you will need a serious amount of VC to maximize your player’s ratings. As always, this can be purchased with real money and is almost essential if you have any hope of competing in the online social hub, The City. This is an NBA 2K tradition at this point, and while we think the total cost of maxing out your attributes may be a little lower overall this year, it’s still horrible for a full-priced game.
To make matters worse, NBA 2K24 overhauls the way badges work, which are actually perks for your player that improve certain attributes. In the past, you had to work through an arduous routine to max them out, and it was tedious. That aspect has been accelerated this year, but it comes with a caveat: your Badges may regress as well. This means that if you eventually unlock a Hall of Fame badge, you must continue to build on it or it will gradually turn back to Gold.
There are some systems in the game designed to help you keep your badges longer, but it all feels unnecessarily ugly and is clearly a mechanic that exists to increase game retention. Obviously, Visual Concepts recognized that the game had a problem with grinding, but in addressing the problem they have created a system that feels completely unfair, and almost punishes anyone who doesn’t commit to not breathing life into the game.
Although it may seem bad, there is no doubt that there are many things to like here. The city, for example, has received a complete facelift and now sports a Miami-style summer sandbox, which you can explore at your own pace. The number of affiliations has been reduced to just two and new street basketball options have been included on a player’s side to add some variety to your career. There are also a ton of cosmetics and animations to unlock, all of which, unsurprisingly, cost VC.
On the court, this year’s game is surprisingly light on headlines, although ProPLAY claims to incorporate real-world NBA data, which has reportedly influenced the game’s animations. Personally, we couldn’t feel much of a difference, and while there’s no doubt that this series is among the best-presented sports games on the PS5, there’s still an occasional dip in the trajectory of shots and passes that you feel like you’re playing. . a videogame.
It would be very easy to be harsh about these oversights, but ultimately it is a earring looking game, with some of the best commentary in the genre, and even fake halftime shows return with favorites like Shaquille O’Neal. The pacing of the game may suffer at times from all of Visual Concepts’ superfluous packaging, but it really matches the presentation of a real-world sports broadcast better than any other franchise.
And the Mamba Moments campaign is a great addition for basketball fans, highlighting some of the most iconic moments from Kobe Bryant’s storied career. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights as last year’s Jordan Challenge, but it’s still a very fun addition and has more than enough content to keep you busy for a dozen hours alone. Add to that the impressive Franchise mode, which now also features an era of LeBron James to play as, and there’s a lot to enjoy here beyond the microtransactions.
Of course, on that note, the card-collecting MyTEAM mode also returns, although it’s generally less aggressive than FIFA’s Ultimate Team. In our experience, you can create a pretty good list using Locker codes and free packs, and a new mode called Salary Cap even encourages you to be much smarter with your selections, since you can’t just rely on a God squad to get your dubs. A unified Battle Pass system rewards your progress in MyCAREER and MyTEAM, although of course 2K Sports has added a paid tier this year.
There’s no doubt that NBA 2K24 is the best-presented sports game on the market, and it’s also arguably the most comprehensive, with a dizzying selection of modes and features to suit all play styles and tastes. But an insidious overreliance on microtransactions and player retention once again detracts from MyCAREER mode, which to its credit feels much more focused this year. There’s still a lot to like about this game, and depending on the modes you enjoy, you may never have to interact with the nefarious aspects. But it sours what would otherwise be an enjoyable effort.