NBA 2K21 comes about at a strange time for gamers, landing on Xbox One and PS4, and with their successors well on the horizon to end out the year. Thus another entry of NBA 2K21 will be landing within only a matter of weeks.
2K has offered NBA 2K fans the opportunity to “buy in” early with the Mamba Forever Edition, which, whilst at a higher price point than the standard version of NBA 2K21, comes with access to the PS4 and Xbox Series X versions of NBA 2K21. It also comes with 100k VC on both generations, although that’s facing a host of problems at the moment with hoards of gamers yet to receive their VC (this author included).
Nonetheless, and even in the face of shooting issues and weird bugs, I’m enjoying NBA 2K21, mainly because I’m a basketball fanatic and I just love gaming, so put the two together and every September is pretty much Christmas for me.
That’s not to say that NBA 2K21 doesn’t feel to be in a weird place at the moment. Faced with a host of challenges due to the current global circumstances, it must be applauded that any developer would manage to get a AAA game out in these conditions, with fractured working environments and teams scattered across the globe. Just last week I sat in on a Zoom call with NBA 2K developers, and everyone was dialling in from their own home.
So NBA 2K21 isn’t perfect by any means but it’s still a very good product considering: considering the current state of the world, considering the lack of NBA this year, considering the struggles facing game developers in 2020, and considering the high standards that have long been set by the NBA 2K franchise dating back to the early ’00s.
However, there’s one area of the game that simply doesn’t deliver anymore, and no blame can passed onto “The Year That Was 2020”. This is an issue that has been present since NBA 2K18, and has seemingly taken a backseat to the other more, erm, financially engaging elements of the NBA 2K experience.
I am of course talking about MyGM and MyLeague, the former of which used to be my most enjoyed mode. It’s still my favourite mode, but it’s no longer my most enjoyed, which is incredibly sad. Then there’s MyLeague, a mode introduced into NBA 2K15 that appears to have peaked from a features perspective but could badly do with a makeover.
These are the two areas of NBA 2K21 more than anything that I want to see improved in the next-gen versions of the game. I don’t just want the same copy-paste versions of the mode that we’ve seen the past 2-3 years: I want next gen versions of MyGM and MyLeague. And I really hope we get them.
From a MyGM perspective, scrap any and all resources dedicated to leaderboards. Anyone that plays MyGM plays it for the personalised and individualistic nature of the mode. Last year with the restrictions of quarter length to ensure everyone was able to be ranked, 2K alienated a large portion of its fanbase, effectively telling MyGM fans that their favourite mode was now effectively an arcade version of older franchise mode.
Additionally, Action Points and Skill Trees need a major overwork: the latter hinders the experience through a lack of any real meaningful management flow, whilst the latter is a combination of messy UI design and unrewarding “upgrades” that eventually end up buried beneath layers upon layers of useless features.
The current state of MyGM is quite frustrating: it’s not overly fun to play, and is practically unchanged from last year’s version. Additionally, it’s convoluted and unrewarding, with the same dialogue options, progression nature and learning curve. The logic applied to some scenarios is also straight up bizarre: MyGM actions tempt you with huge rewards by achieving certain targets — such as agreeing to make the playoffs that season — but if you fire your head coach after a poor start, you risk losing your job. I know that’s a trivial and random scenario and perhaps “un-GM” like, but there has to be some element of fun and freedom in there. For the most part, MyGM doesn’t hold your hand: it forces you down the worst type of micromanagement pathway.
As for MyLeague, I can’t think of any immediate ways to improve this mode, and the entire expansion implementation has been great fun over the years. This year’s offering does feel light: this year’s upcoming draft class hasn’t been included, and every autogenerated rookie is completely incompetent on the offensive end. I’m talking straight up awful, shocking and slow release, bordering on unplayable.
I can appreciate and understand why not much love has been shown to MyLeague and MyGM in NBA 2K21, but if we’re moving forward and investing in new hardware, along with pricier versions of current-gen games for access to “upgraded” versions on the consoles, safe to say we should see these two core areas expanded and improved upon. A lot of the criticism aimed at 2K is that these modes have minimal financial incentive for the publisher, and so development is shifted elsewhere. In doing that however they’re really alienating a quiet but still large player base that loves the micromanagement elements of MyLeague and MyGM. If there’s one thing on my NBA 2K21 next-gen wishlist, it’s that those modes get way more love than they’ve be receiving.
What are your thoughts on MyGM and MyLeague, and what can we changes/added/improved to make the modes more appealing? Sound off in the comments below!