Once again I find myself picking up a yearly copy of NBA 2K and 2K23 isn’t any different. I ask myself “How is it going to be different than the last?”. After putting in over 48 hours of gameplay, I can distinctly say that it’s more or less of the same.
In comparison to NBA 2K23’s competition Madden 23, it definitely has tried to do more for the community by adding a few new features and changing up game mechanics from past years. However, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the game is generally a copy and paste of last year’s edition. The same complaints that I’ve had during my NBA 2K22 review have made a recurrence with even more to pile on top of it.
For starters, NBA 2K23 has changed the way jump shots work this year. In 2K22, it was very easy to make shots as it felt like everything went in regardless if you had badges or not. To remedy this, 2K has decided to significantly nerf shooting this year as your shots no longer go in if you don’t shoot an excellent shot (Greens). I’m not completely against this change, but I would like the percentage of normal shots going in to be a little higher. This causes a major skill gap within the game as some players still find themselves trying to get used to this change. Personally, I’m still trying to adjust, but it hasn’t been to the point where I find the game unplayable. The only time it becomes a pain is when you play online, but we can get into that later.
Gamemode-wise, everything is basically the same. If you’re someone that just wants to pay $70 to play a pick-up game with friends and to just vibe out then you’ll have everything you want. The PlayNow mode has not been touched in the slightest and neither has MyTeam. Similar to Madden’s Ultimate Team, it’s a money-hungry game mode that begs you to open your wallet in order for you to have a good set of players. GM Mode is boring to me as I rather play basketball than run a team.
The one feature that I do find cool is being able to create a WNBA MyPlayer and play throughout the league. I was disappointed that it doesn’t play out similarly to MyCareer as it only lets you play through a season and not against other players.
The Jordan challenges are extremely fun and I’m glad that they were brought back. It’s nice to be able to play as Jordan through his rise to stardom in the NBA.
You can tell that MyCareer is 2K’s bread and butter game mode as it receives the most attention out of the others. One of the new features I’m in love with is the new build creation system. What I enjoy most about it is it really has you sacrificing certain skills/badges for others. For example, if you want to put all of your attribute points into 3-point shooting then you would have to be poor in areas such as defense or lacking in the strength department. You also need a certain amount of points to unlock certain types of badges and their rarities as well. There is no such thing as a perfect build in 2K23 and that’s what I love about it. Every build has its strengths and weaknesses and it’s up to you to utilize it.
The story in NBA 2K has been lacking for a while now and this year is no exception. In fact, it took one of my biggest gripes about last year’s and doubles down on it. When I play MyCareer I expect to play basketball, however, that’s not the case this year. 2K cracked down on making MyCareer a giant ad-filled RPG.
If you want to play your next NBA game, 90% of the time the game you have to complete a quest first. The quest itself has nothing to do with basketball. You’ll get quests like advertising for a hot dog shop, skateboarding around The City, and even doing TikTok Dances. This is downright silly as I don’t even get to play basketball, which is what the game is about. It’s all just advertising for certain brands and products along with having to complete quests for a very lackluster story.
The story itself is nothing memorable as it’s your typical cliche “You vs Your rival” and it gets old fast. Not to mention characters such as your rival Shep Owens and his lackeys made me want to skip every cutscene they appeared in. The only redemption that the story has is celebrity appearances such as J.Cole and Dr. Disrespect, but they couldn’t save it.
I say this every single year and I have to say it again: NBA 2K23 is a pay-to-win game. If you want to outperform other players online you need to spend some money on VC. You can say that it’s optional all you want, but with the game having a skill gap now, you won’t have fun being stuck at a 70 overall. Not only that but NBA 2K23 has seen an inflation in the price of items and upgrades in VC. A single backpack costs over 20,000 VC which is extremely ridiculous. Considering that in order to go up one overall it costs you the same amount. You’re left to choose between whether you want clothes or attributes since you can’t have both.
An addition that I do like is that each player is a part of a faction in The City. Affiliation points can be earned for each faction by winning games whether that’d be on the blacktop, in the REC, or any online game. Certain events will also come up where they compete with one another to see who comes out on top.
Online matches themselves are filled with latency issues which can severely affect your jump shot, which is bad considering that they need to be perfect if you intend on scoring. It doesn’t feel that the game has skill-based matchmaking as I’ll find myself in lobbies with players who are a 90+ overall along with a few 99s as well.
NBA 2K23 is fun when it finally lets you play basketball, but compared to last year it feels worse. Sure the graphics have a new coat of paint on them and the scenery is beautiful with murals such as the late great Kobe Bryant and the BLM movement, but it still feels the exact same. This time around it’s more annoying and tedious just to play the game in order to level up. I can tell you right now that 2K isn’t going to change its ways in regards to microtransactions and the cost of items within MyCareer.
If you ask me, if you’re not willing to play MyCareer or even MyTeam, then save your money as NBA 2K23 is not worth it in the long run. You’ll just end up spending more money than you initially thought you would while potentially playing anything but basketball.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.