In NBA 2K23, the court isn’t just about the three-point arc. This should be obvious, but in last year’s game, Visual Concepts admitted that the shooter had too many advantages. Talented shooters shoot consistently but less realistically, while even less-skilled players can run out of jumpers and 3-pointers if they only look at the open. Among the many other gameplay changes in NBA 2K23, this fall’s game focuses on bringing the offensive game back into balance and allowing players to work in the paint and attack the rim.
“We looked at how virtual games performed compared to the real NBA,” said Mike Wang, game director for NBA 2K. “Obviously, we need to love more attackers who like to finish at the rim. That means expanding the tools to attack the rim.” With that in mind, NBA 2K23 starts with the improved Pro Stick, designed to provide players with More inside mobility.
New gesture combinations, such as double throws and turns, are designed to provide shots in tight areas when defenses are pressing you. The double-throw gesture is used for jumping layups, while the switchback gesture is used for Eurostep and cradle layups.
The 2K team is also very excited about the new physics-driven rim suspension mechanics, making you super gorgeous at the end of your dunk. You might think this is more of a celebration than a play, and you’d be right, but it’s a further indication that the game’s guiding light is to inspire the paint beasts to take back their turf.
When you are hanging on the rim, the left and right joysticks correspond to one hand, allowing you to play freely after scoring. The 2K team says they’ve been working on the technology for several years, and everyone is excited to bring it out with 2K23.
The team referenced Giannis Antetokounmpo multiple times during the hour-long game presentation, noting that it was his aggressive, furious style of play that greatly inspired this year’s offensive change. More player-to-player contact is an attempt to further that feeling of owning the paint as more dominant players prevail.
The game’s ball-handling mix has also been expanded, with the full list of mobile crossovers nearly double that of last year’s game, from 15 options to 28 options. The new Pro Stick gestures diversify each player’s “handles” and are designed to put more of the ball in the hands of the player, which should help differentiate decent players from good ones.
Game lovers can not only rush to the rim, but also undercut the overall shot by giving it several realistic nuances. The first is to apply new shooting stats to each signature jumper, including shooting speed, release height, defensive immunity – how effective the shot is in the game, and its timing impact. “Since 2K basketball’s iconic jump shot came out, the animation has been more or less aesthetic, but functionally the same,” Wang said. “This year, each iconic jumper has unique shooting stats that help determine its effectiveness.”
There are also 20 shot meters in the game, 5 of which were introduced at launch and 15 will be available as unlockable items later in the season. This is in response to various groups in the 2K community looking to get one shot or another from past iterations of NBA 2K. Much like MLB The Show, NBA 2K appears to give players multiple options to choose their favorite one.
It’s not just about offense, though. On the defensive end, blocks are adjusted to better reflect reality. “There aren’t more small guards out there that are LeBron James-level chasing blocks like last year,” the team said. Steals and belts have also been improved so smaller defenders don’t have to be stomped on by their unstoppable bigs. They can now reach into the cookie jar more reliably.
The badge system has also been significantly revised. Wang said the team used telemetry data to spot the least-used badges and then removed them or incorporated their functionality into other pre-existing badges. On top of that, several new badges have appeared in the game, including the Antetokounmpo-inspired Bully badge, which allows you to bulldoze through traffic and finish the race to your advantage. Stay tuned for our separate, more comprehensive coverage of the new NBA 2K23 badges soon, and we’ll provide a link to that coverage here.
We’ll be sharing more about NBA 2K23 throughout the month, including coverage of the return to the Jordan Challenge, new additions to The City, and an in-depth look at MyTeam and MyPlayer. Keep an eye out for these as we get closer to the September 8 release of NBA 2K23.
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