Visual Concepts came to an important but necessary conclusion with NBA 2K24: they needed to bring back the redundant aspects of the series. For the past two years, specifically on PS5, that version’s popular MyCAREER mode has wanted to touch on all aspects of basketball — including cultural things like fashion and music. However, this year’s game is focused entirely on the court and is all the better for it as a solo experience.
Your only goal is to become the GOAT, and you’ll be playing through your avatar’s personal highlight reel to get there. While there’s a story — involving your father and grandfather, who were both NBA legends — there’s less antics, so you can focus on the good that’s playing for your chosen team. You can simulate up to key matches and further accelerate the pace of your campaign.
Of course, all the old complaints remain. Although you get a small denomination of currency for completing in-game tasks, you will need a seriously amount of VC to maximize your player rating. As always, this can be purchased with real money – and is borderline necessary if you hope to compete in The City’s online social hub. This is NBA 2K lore at this point, and while we feel like the overall cost of maxing out your attributes may be a little lower this year, it’s still terrible for a full-price game.
To top it all off, NBA 2K24 is overhauling the way badges work, which are effective perks for your player that boost certain attributes. In the past, you had to grind your way through challenging grinds to exhaust them, and that was tedious. This aspect has been sped up this year, but it comes with a caveat: your badges can also come back. This means that if you do eventually unlock the Hall of Fame badge, you must continue to use it or it will gradually revert back to gold.
There are some systems in the game designed to help you hold onto your badges longer, but it all feels so unnecessarily ugly and is clearly a mechanism to increase game retention. Visual Concepts clearly recognized that the game had a problem with grinding, but in dealing with that problem they created a system that seems downright unfair – and borderline punishing for anyone who isn’t committed to not living the game.
While it may all sound bad, there’s no doubt that there’s a lot to like here. For example, The City has undergone a complete facelift and now features a Miami-style summer sandbox that you can explore in your own time. The number of affiliations has been reduced to just two, and new street basketball options have been added to the single player side to diversify your career. There’s still a generous helping of unlockable cosmetics and animations – all of which, unsurprisingly, cost VC.
On the court, this year’s game is surprisingly light on major features, though ProPLAY claims it includes real-world NBA data that reportedly influenced the in-game animations. Personally, we didn’t feel much of a difference, and while there’s no doubt that this series is one of the best-presented sports games on PS5, there are still occasional bumps in the trajectory of shots and passes where you feel like you’re playing. video game.
It would be all too easy to go hard on these oversights, but in the end it is excellent looking game, with some of the best commentary in the genre – and even mock halftime shows featuring favorites like Shaquille O’Neal are back. The pacing of the game can sometimes suffer from all the excess Visual Concepts fluff, but it really matches the presentation of an actual 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 legendary career. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights as last year’s Jordan Challenge, but it’s still a really fun addition and has more than enough content to keep you occupied for about a dozen hours alone. Throw in an impressive franchise mode that now includes the LeBron James era, and there’s plenty of fun to be had in addition to microtransactions.
Of course, on that note, the MyTEAM card collecting mode also returns, although it’s generally less aggressive than Ultimate Team FIFA. In our experience, you can build a pretty good team using it Locker codes and free packs and a new mode called Salary Cap even encourages you to be a lot smarter with your choices because you can’t just rely on a god group getting your dubs. A unified Battle Pass system rewards your progress across MyCAREER and MyTEAM, though of course 2K Sports 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 complete, with a dizzying selection of modes and features to suit all playing styles and tastes. But an insidious over-reliance on microtransactions and player retention once again mars the MyCAREER mode, which is much more focused this year. There’s still a lot to like about this game, and depending on what modes you enjoy, you may never have to interact with the nefarious aspects. But it sours what is otherwise an enjoyable game.