Like any NBA team, Visual Concepts needs to prepare for another season and try to improve their roster and strengthen their lineup. Last year’s entry was all about taking the leap to new generation hardware and really leveraging the technology with stunning graphics and blazing fast load times. You could say the developer found their core players when making this move, but as with any roster, there’s always room to evolve into a title contender. Visual Concepts hasn’t found its championship year yet, but it’s made some solid improvements and changes to eventually get there. NBA 2K22 may not feel significantly different from last year, but a few bright spots make it more fun to play and lay a promising foundation for the future.
The gameplay, which has always been top-notch, doesn’t make major changes from the formula. It took a few games before I really appreciated the improvements. This year focuses on rewarding your basketball IQ and incorporating more realistic traits like fatigue into your performance. That doesn’t mean your star players can’t shine and easily dominate the game, but you could miss a few more hoops or get blown past for being out of position more often than in previous entries. It’s a change I’m committed to because before, I felt like overwhelmed stars mattered more than playing a good team basketball.
The changes are most noticeable in defensive play, as positioning can make the difference between success and failure. If you don’t interrupt your man appropriately or engage in the wrong game, you’ll pay for it. Blocking and shooting competitions have been reworked so that predictable plays are defended correctly more realistically. I also like the new shot counter, which takes into account shooting ability, distance, fatigue and defensive coverage. Getting a basket is a good mix of skill and player talent that previous entries have struggled to perfect. You also can’t take anything for granted and assume the shot will go in since your player is elite and forcing a shot often fails. A couple of new dribbling moves add more variety to ball handling, and this is another area where the differences in player skill is reflected in how they look and feel when dribbling.
As far as modes go, MyCareer probably saw the most significant changes happening entirely in The City. In this sprawling multiplayer hub, players can do everything from shopping for new clothes to participating in pickup games and tournaments. This means you’re no longer following a huge cinematic scripted storyline like in previous years; Instead, live out your NBA career here, visiting agents at their headquarters, meeting with reporters for exclusive interviews, and visiting the practice facility for team practices. Visual Concepts has focused on the RPG elements, with a massive quest system that ensures your player always has something to do, whether they’re working on their NBA career, advancing their personal brand, or taking on online challenges for extra goodies .
MyCareer still has a story path and stars as “MP”, an aspiring player who has garnered attention with his YouTube channel and carves out his own unique path in the NBA. This approach feels fresher than previous years as Visual Concepts chose to showcase the different ways players can make their mark and how social media can play a huge part in a player’s rise to fame. You can choose to focus solely on basketball or build your brand with ventures in music and fashion. During my time, I released a track with rapper The Game and started my own line of comfortable yet stylish sportswear. The story is silly at times, but that’s exactly why I liked it. This mode also adds some fun diversions from the NBA season, but be aware that when you enter the fashion circuit you will have to use virtual currency (VC), which you can earn in-game or buy in the real world Money to impress on clothes. That said, the mode is still a grind, and it doesn’t help that most of the quests are repetitive, sometimes a repeat of the same content (the music trivia is outrageous), or require you to engage in boring fetch quests. It’s still a hassle to get around the city until you unlock better vehicles and additional fast travel options outside of your home.
You only enter The City as a male MyPlayer, which is disappointing. NBA 2K22 brings back The W if you want to build your own WNBA career. While this mode laid a great foundation over the past year, it’s disheartening that Visual Concepts hasn’t expanded on it for NBA 2K22. The only significant additions are the ability to practice with other WNBA stars to learn their skills, as well as some gameplay tweaks to better reflect the women’s game, particularly in the passing department. However, the mode feels devoid of meaningful interactions and worthwhile content. I would love to see scenes and press conferences to really show my player’s personality and her decisions about her path in the league as you can see in MyCareer.
MyGM is also very similar to last year, except that there are more staff to be hired for various positions such as: B. a sleep doctor or a perimeter defense trainer. This encourages you to think more about hiring. Do they fit your trainer’s system? Do you tolerate employees who have one or two negative traits in favor of their other superior skills and perks? It’s a small addition, but gives you a little food for thought when assessing your team’s needs. This mode is fun but gradually loses its appeal as there haven’t been any major changes in recent years.
MyTeam, where you open packs of cards to create your dream list, has received one of my favorite additions: Drafting. Now you can create a roster by flipping three cards in a five pack to create your team in different positions. It adds some unpredictability and luck to the equation, but I enjoyed teaming up in this way to play against others online. Depending on your wins and losses, you will get additional rewards and more attempts to recruit players to further improve your team.
For those who enjoy getting treats and seeing your work come to fruition, there are now seasons in all of the game’s main modes. Seasons run every six weeks and allow you to get free items like clothing, card packs, and more. All you have to do is complete objectives (mostly playing games) to reach certain reward tiers. Modes like MyTeam and MyCareer have daily rewards that give you little freebies just for logging in. This is a clever change; I always felt like I had something to look forward to, and having some rewards to hunt down helped as an incentive to keep playing. While this is an improvement, microtransactions in NBA 2K22 still rear their ugly heads; Most players discard VC to increase their player’s stats faster, or be lured in by cosmetic items to improve their looks. You earn VC by playing games, but it’s a fumble, which is why so many reach into their wallets. At least the clothing prices seem more reasonable, but players only have slow skateboards to navigate The City, which appears like a carrot, to nudge them to upgrade.
Instead of going to the arena and making a big statement, NBA 2K22 just plays some decent basketball. You’ll see a few highlight clips, but none that will make you watch in awe. Still, NBA 2K22 is an improvement over last year, although it’s disappointing that it doesn’t make more significant strides. Hopefully next year we’ll see more roster reshuffles to make the game a little more exciting and feel like Visual Concepts is shooting for that championship title.
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