NBA 2K21 Next Gen Shows Flashes of a Potential Great Game

NBA2k21s cover athlete for next gen is New Orleans very own Zion Wiliamson.

published by fair use

NBA2k21’s cover athlete for next gen is New Orleans’ very own Zion Wiliamson.

Nick Holt, Editor-in-Chief

Released on November 10 and 12 on the Xbox Series X/S and the Playstation 5, NBA 2K21 launched as a release date title for gamers across the globe.  With extremely high expectations from an aggressive fan base who has been disappointed in the recent past, the pressure was on this year.

Previous to the launch of the game, 2K previewed “The City,” a new alternative to the formerly known Neighborhood, which was hyped up by consumers as well but then later hated on by players who felt it took too long to navigate the Neighborhood, though this year, there was a hope for change.  But, per usual, disappointment likely to come.

The City (Travel)

The City, as said before, is a huge closed in area where players can take their MyPlayer to go compete in online and offline game modes.  It’s an extremely cool experience, with big buildings, varying courts, and different shops, such as “Swags,” to go explore around with your player.  Though, as anticipated, it’s a task to get from place to place.  While the time to get around is longer than it should be, the navigation of The City does not help either.  Yes there’s a map and the ability to send way point to make it somewhat easier, but still it’s difficult, and I think it could be fixed very easily.  Providing the ability to jump from place to place, on top of the ability to run around would be nice, but I guess it would defeat the purpose of having the whole closed world city.  One of the positives of travel around the city is they provided skateboards this year for improved time of travel, with the ability to unlock and purchase different vehicles such as a bike, motorcycle, and eventually a car.  But overall, city travel isn’t great, it’s difficult, but an improvement from previous years.

The City (Park Gameplay)

Extremely underwhelming to say the least.  The potential is SO high, if it’s playable, it’s enjoyable, but that’s a big if.  Once the most hyped and exciting parts of the game, park gameplay is always the biggest part of the game, and this year it’s just not playable.  The 3v3 courts are morbidly laggy, to the point where it’s just not fun.  It’s not a personal WiFi connection issue either, it’s just the game constantly chopping, dropping frames every second based on whether you are on defense or offense.  The court flips when the ball changes possession, changing the outside view of The City, which is the reason for the choppiness, the more of The City you see, the more you will lag.  It’s really frustrating, because the 2v2 courts don’t lag, but historically, 2v2s aren’t as enjoyable as 3v3s.  So as of right now, it’s a huge issue with the game that needs to be fixed, and I think it can be fixed pretty easily, it just depends how much the developers care, which in the past, 2k devs have not listened to the community surrounding issues of this kind.  So pretty much 3v3 and 2v2 gameplay in The City is a flop, it’s horrible, unplayable, but not completely dead, revivable to say the least.

Overall Gameplay (Pro-AM, Rec Center, etc.)

As someone who plays a lot of Rec Center and Pro-AM, I’ve been enjoying myself this year, it’s gameplay that doesn’t lag or chop, and it’s sad that that’s the differing factor between the success of two different modes, but unfortunately, it is.  Though, the gameplay is really not that great.  The biggest thing that makes the game a headache is the overpowered slashing this year and below average paint defense.  If you get past the first layer of defense, it’s an easy score, the amount of times I have been dunked on this year as an interior paint defender, is beyond me, like I literally get dunked on every play.

But other than that the gameplay is fine, this year every player can do everything for the most part.  The builds are all-around, everyone can shoot, for the most part, drive, play defense, etc..  It’s pretty fun and there’s not a lot of excuses for missing shots this year, which always adds some drama when playing with friends.  For Pro-AM, 5v5  hasn’t worked, you search for a game and you’re stuck, and maybe it’s because there’s not a lot of people playing the game because of the scarce availability of next gen consoles, but I doubt that, it’s the game, again, issues on issues on issues.  One thing that did work in Pro-AM was 3v3 matchups, though every time I’ve played, my friends and I have been invisible, like actually invisible, and hey it results in wins for my team, but it’s a glitch and it needs to be fixed, without explanation.  But, all in all, the Rec Center and Pro-AM are still the most enjoyable game modes, which is laughable, because there’s all these issues and complaints and yet it’s still it’s the only thing I’ve been continuously playing.  The best of the worst in short.

Other Modes (MyNBA, MyTeam, etc..)

I’m not much of a fan of the modes outside of the whole MyPlayer situation, and I think the majority of the community feels the same way, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed.  I got a chance to play a little bit of MyNBA, the substitute for the former MyLeague and MyGM, and it was pretty solid.  There’s a lot more ability to customize the way you want to play this year, with the opportunity to control a G-League team, change the number of teams in the league, etc..  There’s changes, not necessarily the ones that MyLeague and MyGM fans wanted in the new MyNBA, but at least 2K made an attempt this time around, something they haven’t in the past, so that’s alright.  With MyTeam, I haven’t met someone who has played MyTeam on a Next Gen console, literally everyone I’ve talked to, it’s just MyCareer, which is understandable because MyCareer is all 2K cares about anyway.  But one cool feature I read about was that you could transfer your MyTeam from current gen (PS4, Xbox One) to next gen, which is surprisingly ideal for fans who have already spent money on microtransactions to get their team better.  It’s difficult to praise the modes that 2K doesn’t care about as a company, the focus is solely on MyCareer and I guess that’s fine for someone like myself who only plays that mode, but there’s people out there who don’t play MyCareer, and my advice to you is to not buy this game on a next gen console if you only play MyNBA or MyTeam.


I’m having fun playing NBA 2K21, it’s an enjoyable game when playable.  There’s still such a long way to go for this game to make it grade A perfect, but I think there’s potential for it.  The fixes seem easy, other than the atrocious paint defense, but that’s just part of the game, it’s arcadey this year and it’s a little bit fun to watch, but more frustrating than anything.  I’m not going to praise the company for doing the bare minimum, which is to fix the game and listen to the consumers, but hopefully a trend starts going in that direction.  I would rate NBA 2k21 Next Gen a 6/10 Raiders.  Not perfect, but not bad, with A LOT of potential.