Back from the dead – NBA2k16 thoughts

Like every other blog you’ve ever read, there’s been a random six month gap between posts shortly after starting. Hopefully that period has passed and I’ll pay more attention to it moving forward.

My last entry was looking forward to NBA2k16 and dealing with the hype, which it largely delivered on. The story mode was very typically Spike Lee, both good and bad. The writing was excellent, but the story line was terrible, intrusive and incoherent. My main issue was with my character being talked about as a superstar in commentary despite averaging less than five points a game. As usual with MyCareer,

The old MyCareer mode where you started at the combine and worked your way onto a team made more sense and was more rewarding. There was always a tipping point where you move from little used bench player to superstar, skipping a huge chunk in between. However it felt more realistic and achievable than the current superstar from day one approach.

The first season of MyCareer is also far too restrictive – you only play a handful of games, and most of the customisation options are locked (either by design or by insufficient funds). After your rookie season it falls into the more familiar format for MyCareer, but it does become too easy to become a dominating superstar early on in your career. The addition of connections as a way to unlock customisation options and cards for MyTeam is a really nice addition though, and does force you to think about how to spend your off days.

The remainder of the game is excellent, with the only downside for me being the lack of opponents online with the PC version.

As someone who collected NBA cards as a teenager MyTeam has incredible appeal to me. It’s a shame that 2K forced players to cheese scores for Domination, requiring endless fast breaks and using the LT exploit to get a post move modifier on dunks to beat some of the target scores. There’s a real need to overhaul how you progress in this mode because currently it encourages you to play basketball “the wrong way”, which is in stark opposition to how they like to promote the game.

It ends up forcing you to use certain types of players to score enough points to unlock the next team. Fast, slashing wings like Andrew Wiggins, and two way guards like Jimmy Butler or Klay Thompson end up as the cornerstones of your team as they are cheap or easily available. Players with high low post ratings like Dirk Nowitski are god tier, and you only need a big man who can score around the basket and defend (Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid were excellent cheap options).

Ultimately this mode isn’t about playing well, it’s about playing efficiently and exploiting the AI. The fun disappears after a while. The Gauntlet forces similar style of play, and is randomly punishing. Being 3 on 3, fast ball handlers and slashing wing players dominate (Giannis is a beast here). The problem is that you only get to pick one of your cards, and the other two are randomly assigned. So I could pick my Amethyst Anthony Davis and get saddled with two bronze centres, while my opponent could have Amethyst Steph Curry and get Amethyst James Harden and gold Jimmy Butler. It’s hard to beat the RNG in that case, but then you have to play to 21 (by 1s and 2s sadly) or quit to move on.

Eventually the limited online community for PC wore thin, seeing the same 8-10 people in MyPark, with only 2-3 courts active at a time. It took forever to find an online opponent for most modes, if I could find them at all (Road To The Playoffs was specifically barren). It was the best incentive for me to buy a Xbone or PS4, which speaks more for the lack of compelling software for either of those two platforms.

The release of Fallout 4 ended up being the final nail in the coffin for playing NBA 2k16 regularly. Fallout 4 had it’s own set of problems, which I’ll get into for my next post, hopefully in less than six months this time.