The NBA 2K series is back for another year and it has disappointed yet again. Minor bug fixes and improvements seem to be all that has changed in NBA 2K21, yet the retail price of the game is still a whopping $80 dollars.
As always, the gameplay of NBA 2K21, for the common player, is solid, but the lack of upgrades in its key game modes is becoming increasingly frustrating.
Loading into the game, you are quick to notice the similarities to the game’s predecessor, NBA 2K20. Loading screens, menus, and the video games most popular game modes, MyCareer, MyTeam and MyLeague are all almost identical to last year.
The most popular game mode, MyCareer, is near identical to last year. The majority of MyCareer gamers play what is called “the playground”, which is against real people across the world. The playgrounds rep system, which is what rewards players for playing the mode, is identical to 2K20, something that 2K changes year in and year out. Something that HAS changed is the amount of clothing for sale for your MyPlayer in the various shops in the playground, but of course for plenty of the games in-game currency, “VC”.
Microtransactions have slowly but surely taken over the game. In MyTeam, the game mode where you can create a team of all your favourite players, it pressures you to decide if you want to grind out the unsatisfying tasks and play for free, or give in and spend money on VC. The game mode has relatively unrewarding VC awards after games that make it seem like forever until you have enough to buy anything you actually want.
The same is with MyCareer. Most players play the playground mode and while the games are short, they can only net you between 1-500 VC a game, not much at all. For comparison, most desirable clothes and accessories are somewhere between 2000-20000 VC, and upgrading your MyPlayer is between 100-3000 VC per upgrade and gets more expensive the better your MyPlayer gets. It leaves players with the option to play for free and be behind, or take the easy way out and shell out your real coin.
The gameplay is still unpredictable at times, and is vastly similar to 2K20. A weird example being a seven foot three centre going for a wide open layup, when easily he can just dunk while barely jumping, and that really doesn’t feel realistic in-game.
While NBA 2K21 leaves much to be desired on current gen, it is still a fun game and there’s a reason people keep coming back every year. Many NBA 2K players will be waiting for the next-gen copy of the game when the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X release in mid November. It is said the game will have many more improvements and updates for next gen, but that doesn’t negate the little effort they put into the current gen. Many players won’t be upgrading to next gen consoles for a while for many different reasons, meaning they are now left to deal with the mostly non-updated game. On the bright side, NBA 2K21 is a great game for the casual player, but for daily players, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I give the game a rating of 5.5/10.