In NBA 2K23, the field is larger than the simple three-point arc. It should be obvious, but with last year’s game, Visual Concepts admitted that shooters had too much of an advantage. Skilled shooters made shots consistently and with less than realistic effort, while even less-skilled players could drain long jumpers and three-pointers if they only had an open eye. Among a host of other gameplay changes in NBA 2K23, the focus of this fall’s game is to restore balance to offensive play and allow players to work in the paint and attack the rim.
“We looked at how the virtual games played compared to the real NBA,” said NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang. “And it was clear that we needed to give more love to slashers who like to finish on the edge. That meant expanding the tools to attack the basket.” With that in mind, NBA 2K23 starts with an improved Pro Stick, intended to give players more maneuverability in the paint.
New gesture combos, such as double throws and yaws, are meant to provide windows of fire in tight spaces when the defense comes down on you. Double throw gestures are used for hop-step layups, while throwback gestures are used for Euro-step and cradle layups.
The 2K team is also very excited about a new physics-based rim suspension mechanic, allowing you to get ultra-flashy at the end of a dunk. You might think this feels more like a celebration than an actual game, and you’d be right, but it further suggests that the guiding light of the game is to inspire paint beasts to reclaim their territory.
When hooked to the rim, the left and right thumbsticks correspond to one hand, allowing you to freestyle after a score. The 2K team said they have been working on this technology for a few years now, and everyone is excited to release it with 2K23.
The team mentioned Giannis Antetokounmpo several times in the hour-long gameplay presentation, noting that it was his aggressive and cutting style of play that greatly inspired this year’s attacking changes. More player-versus-player contact is meant to reinforce that feeling of owning the paint as the more dominant player wins.
The game’s ball handling combos are also expanded, with the full roster of mobile crossovers nearly doubling from last year’s game, from 15 to 28 options. The new Pro Stick gestures diversify each player’s “handles” and are intended to put more ball control in players’ hands, which should help separate the decent players from the greats.
Not only do gamers get to the basket, but they arguably hurt the overall shot by giving it several realistic undertones. It starts with applying new shot stats to each signature jump, including shot speed, release height, defensive immunity – shot effectiveness when contested, and the impact of timing. . “Since the beginning of signature jumps in 2K basketball, animations have been more or less aesthetically pleasing but functionally the same,” Wang said. “This year, each signature jump shot has unique shot stats that help determine its effectiveness.”
20 additional shot counters are coming to the game, including five at launch and 15 that will be unlocked later this season. This comes in response to different pockets of the 2K community vocally wanting a shot counter or another from past NBA 2K iterations. Like MLB The Show, it looks like NBA 2K will give players multiple methods to choose from and let them pick the one they prefer.
It’s not all about the offense, however. On defense, shot blocking has been adjusted to better reflect reality. “No more little guards shooting LeBron James-level chase blocks like last year,” the team said. Steals and stolen balls have also been boosted, so smaller defenders don’t have to get trampled by big ones they can’t block. They can now reach the cookie jar more reliably.
The badging system has also been heavily overhauled. Wang said the team used the telemetry data to spot the least-used badges and either removed them or integrated their functionality into other pre-existing badges. On top of that, several new badges have arrived in the game, including the Antetokounmpo-inspired Bully badge, which allows you to bulldoze through traffic and complete the game with your dominant force. We’ll have separate, more comprehensive coverage of the new NBA 2K23 badges soon, and we’ll include a link to that coverage here, so stay tuned.
We’ll be sharing plenty more about NBA 2K23 throughout the month, including coverage of the return of the Jordan Challenge, new additions to The City, and deep dives into MyTeam and MyPlayer. Watch out for these as we approach the launch of NBA 2K23 on September 8th.
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