Should You Get Excited for NBA 2K22?
As a fan of the NBA 2K series since 2007, back when a young Chris Paul, who was still playing for the New Orleans Hornets, graced the cover, it’s been an annual event for me and my basketball-crazed brothers to cop the latest version of the game. We would eagerly pre-order the game and get excited for its drop and early-bird perks. However, the excitement for the game has dwindled over the past couple of years mainly because the game is starting to feel stagnant.
Fans all over the world share the same sentiment. One look at the comments section of NBA 2K’s socials and you'll see frustrated fans complaining about how the game looks the same as previous iterations or how they just added more sweat and called it a day. These frustrations are a result of NBA 2K being on top of basketball games for so long. NBA 2K has been consistent with its game for a long time so naturally, the standard of fans has become so high—they're constantly expecting the game to improve.
The question is, how can an already great game become even better?
The release of NBA 2K22 is right around the corner. On paper, the game has a lot of things to get excited about. For one, it has a special-edition cover with WNBA superstar Candace Parker, making this the first time a woman has appeared on the cover of an NBA 2K game. Aside from Parker, there are also other cover athletes: The standard version features Slovenian wunderkind Luka Doncic while the 75th-anniversary version has three NBA greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant.
There are also a bunch of improvements for gameplay and updates for beloved game modes such as MyTeam, MyCareer, and The City. Is this the year that fans should get hyped once again for another 2K game?
For a deeper dive into the significant changes and improvements for NBA 2K22, we talked to Mike Wang, gameplay director, and Erick Boenisch, vice president of NBA 2K development, both from Visual Concepts, the developers behind the game.
ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: What’s it like working with the new cover athletes?
ERICK BOENISCH: We’re very fortunate to have such a diverse group of cover athletes this year. All brought such a unique skill set to the game of basketball, and each of them has their own unique approach to working with us to ensure NBA 2K22 is the best version of NBA 2K to date.
We try to improve our game every year and having access to a talent list that includes the All-Time Leading Scorer, one of the most decorated international players, one of the best to ever play in the WNBA, and one of the best young players in the league is a blessing. All of them have provided their own take on areas we can tweak, be it in gameplay or running a franchise.
ESQ: What’s the biggest gameplay difference between 2K22 and its predecessor?
MIKE WANG: We really focused on both sides of the ball this year, from new dribble signature moves and precision jump shooting to completely revamping our shot contest and blocking system. Avid players will really tell the difference this year and I hope they enjoy the new gameplay improvements we’ve implemented.
ESQ: How much fan input or criticism do you consider when making improvements for the game?
EB: Interacting with our community is so important, especially for a sports game with so many players around the world watching the real sport and comparing it to our game. We heavily look at what our community says about the game, the good and the bad, and look to improve where we can, either throughout the year with patches or focusing on bigger improvements with the next full game release.
ESQ: Certain animations can be exploited by some to create a somewhat unfair advantage. How do you balance this out to create a level playing field between novice and experienced players?
MW: We know we have to cater to a wide range of skill levels. With our changes planned for both sides of the ball this year, it will be harder for players to exploit moves from the past as the AI will learn what you do and react. It will be a challenging but rewarding experience for the pro players as this year will rely a lot on not only your stick skills but also general basketball IQ to make the right play.
We do offer five levels of difficulty in some game modes, so our advice is to test out each level and find what best suits your abilities. And then practice so you can progress to tougher challenges. And we’ve also made a conscious effort to balance every offensive animation with a defensive counter to make sure nothing can be exploited.
ESQ: Can you tell us more about features that are completely unique to 2K22?
EB: While we will have more details to share in the future, what I can tell you today in NBA 2K22 for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, MyCAREER and the all-new City become one in a groundbreaking narrative experience for NBA 2K. The City is more alive than ever before. Your MyPLAYER character will be able to interact with NPCs and embark on a new quest system to level up in new and exciting ways. They can also embark on side ventures and build out a career in fashion and music.
For previous-gen players, we’ve revamped the Neighborhood for this year to become the 2K Cruise where you can interact with other players on board a luxury cruise ship. When the cruise ship docks, you can also participate in shoreside events. We will have more details to share about both The City and 2K Cruise soon.
ESQ: Speaking of previous-gen, what can fans expect for that version of the game?
EB: This year’s game features a host of updates for previous-gen players. While they may not have the opportunity to play and interact in The City, they will still experience the new gameplay improvements, the ever-changing and fun seasonal content, all-new MyCAREER story, and the long-requested return of MyTEAM Draft. The 2K Cruise is also going to add a whole new level of interactivity above the Neighborhood and we will have more details to reveal soon.
NBA 2K22 is expected to release worldwide on September 10. The next-gen standard version retails for P3,490 while the previous-gen standard edition will cost P2,990. It will also be released in a special NBA 75th-anniversary edition for P5,090.