In NBA 2K23, the court is bigger than just the three-point arc. It should be obvious, but with last year’s game, Visual Concepts admitted that the shooters had too much of an advantage. Talented shooters made shots consistently and with less than natural effort, while even less skilled players could drain long jumpers and three-pointers if they just got an open look. Among a number of other gameplay changes in NBA 2K23, the focus of this fall’s game is to bring balance back to the offensive game, empowering players to work in the paint and attack the rim.
“We looked at how virtual games played out compared to the real NBA,” said NBA 2K game director Mike Wang. “And it was clear that we needed to give more love to slashers who love to finish at the rim. This meant expanding the tools to attack the basket.” With that in mind, NBA 2K23 kicks off with an improved Pro Stick, meant to give players more maneuverability in the paint.
New movement combinations, such as double throws and switchbacks, are intended to provide shooting windows in tight spaces, when the defense is pressing you. Double-throw moves are used for hop-step layups, while switchback moves are used for Euro-step and Cradle layups.
The 2K team is also very excited about a new physics-driven rim-hanging mechanic, which allows you to get ultra flashy at the end of a dunk. You might think this is more like celebrating than actually playing, and you’d be right, but it further suggests that the guiding light of the game is to inspire male animals to reclaim their territory.
When hanging on the rim, the left and right controller sticks equate to a hand, giving you a way to freestyle after a score. The 2K team said they’ve been working on this technology for a few years now, and everyone is excited to get it out there with 2K23.
The team mentioned Giannis Antetokounmpo several times in the hour-long game presentation, noting that it is his aggressive, cutting style of play that has largely inspired this year’s offensive changes. More player-to-player contact is meant to promote a sense of owning the paint as the more dominant player prevails.
The game’s ball handling combinations are also expanded, with the entire list of Moving Crossovers nearly doubling from last year’s game, from 15 to 28 options. The new Pro Stick movements diversify each player’s “handle” and are intended to give players more ball control, which should help separate the decent players from the greats.
Not only are the players interested in the game driving to the basket, there is no doubt also nerves to shoot overall by giving it more realistic nuances. This starts with new shooting stats being applied to each signature jump, including shot speed, drop height, defensive immunity – how effective the shot is when contested, and the time effect. “Since the inception of signature jump shots in 2K basketball, animations have been more or less aesthetically, but functionally the same,” Wang said. “This year, each signature jump shot has unique shooting statistics that help determine effectiveness.”
20 more shooting meters are coming to the game, including five at launch and 15 that will roll out as unlockables later this season. This comes in response to various parts of the 2K community vocally wanting some shot meter from NBA 2K’s previous iterations. Like MLB The Show, it looks like NBA 2K will give players multiple methods to choose from and let them choose which one they like best.
It’s not just about violations. On defense, shot blocking has been tuned to better reflect reality. “No more small guards pulling off LeBron James-level stalking blocks like last year,” the team said. Steal and ball-strips have also been boosted, so that smaller defenders don’t have to be trampled by big players they can’t block. They can now reach into the cake pan more reliably.
The marking system has also been heavily revised. Wang said the team used telemetry data to discover the least used tags and either removed them or rolled their functions into other pre-existing tags. On top of that, several new badges have come to the game, including the Antetokounmpo-inspired Bully badge, which allows you to bulldoze through traffic and finish plays with your dominant strength. We’ll have a separate, fuller coverage of the new NBA 2K23 brands soon, and we’ll include a link to that coverage here, so stay tuned.
We’ll be sharing a lot more about NBA 2K23 throughout the month, including coverage of the returning Jordan Challenge, new additions to The City, and deep dives into MyTeam and MyPlayer. Look out for them as we get closer to the launch of NBA 2K23 on September 8th.
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