A celebration of small details, NBA 2K23 is more than just a roster update.

A feast of small details
NBA 2K23 – more than just a roster update

Michael Bauer

For sports simulators that appear every year, it is difficult to set new accents. The fine-tuning of NBA 2K23 is significantly better than previous years. In terms of scale, it embraces the complete passion for basketball. However, the series is not spared from the annoying destructive factor.

It’s amazing how close NBA 2K23 is to the circus of the world’s biggest basketball league. From the warm-up routine, the atmosphere in the gym, to Shaquille O’Neal’s halftime review and the post-game press conference, for real players, the new version of the simulation offers more attention to detail on and off the game. judgment than ever before. However, the craze for microtransactions continues to grow.

Visually, 2K Games’ basketball sim has been one of the best available for its respective console generation for years. The fine-tuning has paid off this year, especially on PS5, and with a proper 4K display, the game has been a real feast for the eyes. Separate pores, dripping sweat, blinking eyelashes add even more realism. In addition, there are high quality player models in terms of looks and movements. The NBA arenas and the artwork on the slightly smaller world of the City career mode are really eye-catching.

The basic basketball animations in the game have taken another step in the right direction. It may feel a bit slower than the NBA 2K22 version, but it benefits both the players and the AI. The free behavior of other players has become much more fluid, and it no longer seems like players can immediately change direction.

give me adrenaline

For more explosive power, NBA 2K23 relies on a new adrenaline rush feature. Limited resource for quick steps, dribbling or difficult passes to the basket. When all the adrenaline has been used up, the ball carrier loses speed. Especially in online mode, hyperactive opponents are slowed down. This means: more realism and creative educational games will be rewarded. In terms of positions, the new feature isn’t exactly balanced: an agile shooting guard has about the same adrenaline rush as a center, but uses them much less in terms of play behavior.

AI has been improved not only for other players, but also for computer-controlled opponents. Computer players attack with a bit more strategy, star players are much harder to stop. In defense, the AI ​​learns, for example, if you always try to perform the same pick-and-roll move, the defense will change the behavior of the cover and perform the appropriate actions.

MyCareer mode returns with a new story. Whereas in the previous version of the game you built your own brand between basketball, fashion and music, in NBA 2K23 character and attitude are a little more important. The story begins with a rivalry with NBA rookie and fan favorite Shep Owens, whose draft pick was taken by his own player. As a rookie in the NBA, you must fight for your place on the team, win the favor of the fans, and deal with provocation from Shep Owens.

The story takes place again in “The City”, a kind of basketball town dotted with streetball courts and stores from major advertising partners. In general, the career mode world is smaller than last year. A definite plus, because you no longer need to run from A to B for several minutes to get to the next quest marker. Skateboarding was also an option last year, but the much more populous city is no longer suitable for skateboarders. It feels like you just get stuck on every stone or lantern. But this only slightly reduces the pleasure of the game.

Shaq attack for break analysis

The city has fresh elements with a number of new buildings such as the “Quarter” or “Cinema” where the mini-games are completed. In general, the career mode also depends on the details. The game begins when you arrive at the hall, enter through the players’ entrance, past the waiting journalists, and onto the court. During breaks, you can watch the cheerleaders or various dance groups while the T-shirt guns fire their “ammunition”. in relation to the audience. During the break, Shaquille O’Neal analyzes the events of the game. It’s a real NBA feeling.


In retro style, MJ starts dunking.

(Photo: 2K Games)

Microtransactions and poor matchmaking in online duels remain a thorn in the side of career mode. As always, virtual currency is earned very slowly. The fastest and easiest way to upgrade your player’s skills, appearance, and animations is to purchase them from the in-game store. To be competitive with other online gamers in the first few weeks, you will have to re-invest the purchase price of the game and promote the values ​​properly. Otherwise, you will regularly see your level 70 player start against an opponent that is 20 levels stronger. Then no skills will help. This becomes impractical, especially for many who join later, because the grind to rank 90 is very long. This is another intimidating aspect of the NBA 2K online experience.

But online clashes are optional in career mode, and with Jordan Challenge, 2K Games also brings a good dose of retro. The re-creation of the greatest milestones of Michael Jordan’s career is a beautiful tribute to the greatest of all time and a true love letter to all basketball lunatics.

For an annual sports sim, NBA 2K23 does a great job. There are entertaining game modes where you can keep yourself occupied and have fun. In addition, the impressive “City 2.0” has a career mode with another successful storyline. With passion and attention to detail, essential gameplay improvements, NBA 2K23 is more than just a roster update.

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