NBA 2K24 continues down the path the series has been taking for a long time. It takes a few more steps toward capturing the real on court action in digital form, making some more realistic tweaks to the gameplay, but at the same time it remains mired by almost everything off court. I’ve previously called out how virtual currency (VC) is chipping away at the NBA 2K experience, and that has not changed in NBA 2K24.
Let us start with what NBA 2K24 does right. In an arena with no competition, NBA 2K24 excels with the on court action. The new ProPlay feature has helped make the player animations look all the more realistic, due to the fact 2K has used NBA footage as a base for player movement. Transitions on the court as players switch from offence to defence are smoother, AI teammates move around the court better and into more helpful positions, and passing feels less stilted too. From a pure simulation perspective it is really good. However, this does come at the expense of some of the more arcade elements, with it seemingly being rarer and tougher to charge down the court on a break to score a showcase basket.
The Mamba Moments are thrown into the mix as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant and his career. In Mamba Moments, you can play key games from Kobe’s career, reliving some of his best performances on the court. It is tastefully done, celebrating one of the game’s top players. You do have to complete it one step at a time though, instead of having all of the highlights open at once.
MyNBA Eras is the area where you will get the purest form of 2K basketball, without having to worry too much about VC. In this mode you can pock from five eras of NBA history, choosing a team to play through basketball as it was in that time. Magic vs Bird puts you through the 1983 season, before the Jordan Era moves to 1991 and the start of domination by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Kobe Era follows this, with 2002 being the time this era starts in, while the LeBron Era is arguably misnamed as the likes of LeBron, Harden, Durant, and Westbrook compete for greatness. Finally, it’s the Modern Era and the game as it is today.
The MyNBA Eras let you be as hands on or off as you want, from hiring the staff that will coach your team, to getting involved in the tactics as well as trades. If none of that is for you, then MyNBA Lite strips away most of the complexity, making the the off the court stuff easier to understand.
The WNBA is also represented in NBA 2K24 with comparable modes to the men’s game – the W is similar to MyCareer in that you create your player and navigate the world of the WNBA with them, while MyWNBA is like MyNBA Eras. While the inclusion is great, it feels a bit like an add-on with not as much care and attention put in as the men’s game. The on court action is fine but the presentation and commentary feels second tier compared to what MyNBA and MyCareer put on the table. With the women’s league gaining a bigger and bigger audience over time, it will be great to see 2K put more resources behind this side of the game.
Of course, 2K knows exactly what modes get the most attention and playing time, and so MyCareer sits at the top of the menu in NBA 2K24. Unlike previous MyCareer modes, the underdog story is non existent here. Instead, your player comes from a line of basketball royalty and is hyped up as the next big thing to hit the court. You’d think with all of the hype, your player would already be one of the best out there, but your player character is stuck with a rating of 60, making you a rank amateur in comparison to other players in the league. Of course, you can up those attributes for a price.
As you are a low 60 player, earning VC is tough regardless of where you invest the initial points you get. Your shooting, passing, and positioning are not great, leading to low team player rating scores, which in turn impacts how much VC you earn. You could earn approx. 700 VC, which sounds like a lot, but that might get you one improvement point out of one attribute and that will barely move the needle.
As part of the review copy, we received 100,000 VC and investing that took my player up to an overall of 75. Better, but that’s still far from the top of the food chain. It would take weeks to grind the VC to get up to that level, doing so without spending any of it on customisation options like T-shirts for your player. That will take even longer if you commit fouls or give up a turnover, as you’ll lose VC from the match payout. It might only be a couple coins, but the game punishes you for not performing well and stretches out the time it will take to improve.
NBA 2K24 feels designed to frustrate players in MyPlayer to the point that they’ll spend more money on the game just to try and get to the same level as other players online.
MyCareer has a large neighbourhood to wander around in where you can play in courts and explore the different storefronts too. There are also side quests to complete alongside the main quest of playing in the NBA and rising through the ranks. The side quests vary from visiting places to do some training, and speaking to various characters to try to earn rewards or be pointed in the direction where you could spend some VC.
MyTeam is the other highlighted mode in the main menu where you spend VC to buy player packs and the players you want. Players vary in price from around 1,500 VC to 100,000 VC, but considering a 200,000 VC pack costs £44.99, you could be spending over £20 for one card. Remember, 100,000 VC is also the approximate cost to get your MyPlayer from a 60 rating to 75. At this stage, MyCareer and MyTeam should spin off as free to play modes instead of being being the paywall of a full priced game.