With the jump to Next-Gen Gaming, the NBA 2K21 faced a lot of huge expectations. So, what’s different? Let’s take a look at the good with the next-generation version of NBA 2K21.
More than ever, NBA 2K21 is pushing through the uncanny valley towards lifelike visuals. From the standard view, NBA 2K21 looks and sounds as though it could be a real-life broadcast, and it’s an absolute pleasure to play. It all feels incredibly snappy in your hand too, and there’s virtually no input lag.
In the audio department, NBA 2K21 Next Generation on Xbox Series X has added a whole bunch of new music to the excellent playlist on offer. 150 new tracks with artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Stormzy, and Lil Wayne are all included and some of these tracks will fill you full of energy for the matches ahead. The commentary team helps with this too, running a new lineup with multiple teams doing a sparkling job of making you feel like you are in an actual TV event. Add in the overall effects on the court, from the squeak of trainers to the bounce of the ball to scoring through the basket, which is all top-notch and you’ve got one hell of a basketball experience.
The next positive thing for the next-gen version is found in the loading times. In the last generation, it felt like a lifetime waiting for those loading screens. Now, whilst it’s not instant, it’s very fast indeed and you’ll soon be getting down and involved in the playing of a game before you know it.
Now, the dribbling on next-gen has been controversial. What people may claim as being nerfed and slowed down I’ve found to be a lot more realistic. Being able to switch speeds is something I’m a fan of doing and feel way more rewarded performing an ankle breaker or blowing by on a defender due to how much better on-ball defense is on next-gen.
Shooting on the new edition of the game is definitely a lot easier. The shot meter is larger, and I also feel next-gen is way more badge reliant than current-gen. There are a lot of different additions to shooting, like splitting up the type of on-the-move shots, bank shots, and arc control that are cool.
A next-gen shot meter has also been introduced to the new version of NBA 2K21, as the option allows players to have more control over their shot arc, a much-needed addition from the heavily criticized shot meter seen in the previous-gen game.
The defense I was pleasantly surprised with, specifically the user defense. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a lot more fun playing perimeter defense now. The improved foot planting has removed the sliding feeling I felt on current-gen trying to defend on the perimeter as your ability to track the ball handler better. The improved collision system rewards me a lot more often for beating the ball handler to a spot. To take it a step further, defenders can even be rewarded with triggering charge calls against undisciplined ball handlers, forcing ball handlers to be a lot more careful driving into the paint.
2K21 saw Visual Concepts re-design the Pro-stick, though dedicated users will be glad to know you can choose whether to stick with the older style or the newer enhanced one. You can now influence aim with the Pro-stick, making it by far the most accurate way of playing, if you have the skill to make the most of it.
NBA 2K21 mixed MyLeague and MyGm called MyNBA. With every feature in each mode carried over into this new mode and made available offline and online. To take it a step further you can pick and choose which aspects of the two modes you want in your franchise.
The WNBA side of things got an upgrade as well with their very own mode called The W which features a female-oriented, although limited by archetype, MyPlayer builder slotting you right on a WNBA Team of your choosing.
The actual story in MyCareer remains the same in NBA 2K21 Next-Gen, but the reduced loading times and improved gameplay and visuals make it more bearable. More importantly, however, you now have additional options. You can skip it altogether and go straight to the NBA, for example, or you can make your journey a bit longer and join the NBA G League. It’s up to you, and it’s a change that’s more than welcome.
Lastly, The Neighborhood is gone and has been replaced with The City. Which, after escaping Rookieville, you get to experience this huge world.
It has been improved and expanded in all aspects, giving you an almost brand new experience. It’s visually more stunning than anything that has come before it, with a complete sheen to the gameplay and stunning work in how the players move and react. Everything is just topped off by some amazing work in the audio department. The City is something that perhaps needs a little more time to really get going, but even now it’s worth investing some hours into. And even better, it’s got the most expansive and engrossing selection of modes and features. If you’re a basketball fan who’s lucky enough to own a next-gen console, you ought to consider NBA 2K21 a must-buy.
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