Last week saw the release of a tremendously detailed Courtside Report focusing on the Movement and Contact aspects of NBA 2K21 on the next-generation. With its launch for Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 edging closer, there’s one last Courtside Report to soak up and this time the areas in the spotlight are MyPLAYER and AI.
This third and final part of the next-gen gameplay Courtside Report series looks at what’s new for MyPLAYER characters and how the artificial intelligence in NBA 2K21 has changed. So, without further ado, let’s hear it directly from NBA 2K21 Game Director Mike Wang and discover what we can expect to experience in November for Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.
Player Builds, Badges, & Takeover
The next-gen player builder is all about customization. We’ve taken in a lot of feedback from the community over the past few years as we’ve evolved the MyPLAYER building experience. One thing that we hear loud and clear from you is that you want more options. Here’s our response:
No More Pies: You no longer choose from preset skill breakdown pie charts for next gen. Instead, we’ve given you control over setting each individual rating to the cap that you prefer. Obviously, there are restrictions based on your vitals and you can’t max out everything, but there’s much more control to make the exact type of player you want to be.
Badges: Many favorites return, but most have undergone some significant functionality changes. There are also some new ones, some revived ones, and some removed ones. The badge point system and equipping process is similar to what you’ve grown accustomed to: perform well in the various categories (Finishing, Shooting, Playmaking, Defense/Rebounding) in any mode to earn badge points, and then apply those points to whatever badges you want within those related categories. Here are some of the new/returning badges and what they do:
- Fearless Finisher – Boosts contact layups and decreases fatigue
- Heat Seeker – Boosts takeover progress on inside shots
- Highlight Film – Boosts teammate takeover progress on flashy dunks
- Hook Specialist – Boosts hook shot ability
- Revived Posterizer – Contact dunks!
- Rise Up – Boosts ability to do standing dunks in traffic
- Anti-Freeze – Harder to get cold and lose takeover meter progress
- Blinders – Less affected by peripheral defenders when shooting jumpers
- Circus Threes – Improved ability to hit pull-up and stepback 3’s
- Fade Ace – Boosts all post fadeaways
- Hot Shot – Increases takeover meter faster when knocking down jumpers
- Deep Threes – Dame and Curry range 3 balls
- Rhythm Shooter – Boosts shot %’s out of size-ups as well as 1-step pull-ups
- Set Shooter – Shooting ability gets better the longer you set and wait before pulling
- Sniper – Boosts the ability to hit shots when using Pro Stick aiming
- Stop & Pop Three – for the JJ Redicks who want to pull-up for threes in transition
- Bullet Passer – Gives you the ability to throw laser dots like LeBron
- Relay Passer – Boosts the shooter on pass to assist situations
- Special Delivery – Boosts takeover progress for the passer and receiver off a flashy pass assist
- Ankle Braces – Makes it tougher for ball handlers to break your ankles
- Clutch Defender – Boosts your defensive ratings in clutch moments
- Hot Stopper – Boosts takeover meter for good defensive plays like steals, blocks, and good contests
Takeover: Takeover is the ability to get hot and take over games. It’s been a popular feature for the past couple years and we wanted to take it to the next level for next gen.
Instead of limiting players to eight general archetype-based takeovers, we’ve broken those eight into 24 more specific takeover abilities. In a way, you can think of them as unique badges that you can fire off when you get hot.
- Advanced Gathers – Unlocks more effective spin, euro, hop step, cradle gathers
- Finishing Moves – Able to absorb contact and finish at the rim
- Easy Blowbys – Enhances ability for slashers to beat defenders off the dribble
- Pull-Up Precision – Boosts well timed/aimed shots off the dribble
- Anklebreaking Shots – More anklebreakers off of spin and stepback jumpers
- Negative Impact – Reduces defensive impact against pull-ups and other skill shots
- Limitless Range – Extends your shooting range out to the logos
- Spot-Up Precision – Boosts well timed/aimed stationary jump shots
- Team Ratings Boost – Playmakers boost their teammates’ offensive ratings
- Team Takeover Boost – Boost your teammates’ takeover meter progress
- Team Badge Boost – Boosts your teammates’ badges up a tier
- Extreme Clamps – More stone wall and lost dribble body-up resolutions for locks
- Perimeter Badge Drop – Knocks shooting badges down a tier when you get close
- Enhanced Jump Shot Contests – Boosts your ability to contest jumpers
- Stuff Blocks – Unlocks more swat, backboard pins, and grab blocks
- Paint Intimidation – Boosts your ability to affect shots around the rim
- Interior Badge Drop – Drops opposition’s scoring badges down a tier in the paint
- Boxout Wall – Improves ability to seal off opponents for easy boards
- See the Future – Shows where missed shots are going to end up
- Glass Clearing Dimes – After rebounds, kick out passes boost your teammate’s shooting
- Power Backdowns – Easier to push defenders around when posting up
- Post Playmaking – Boost your teammates’ offensive abilities when passing out of post
- Advanced Post Moves – Easier to beat defenders with post moves
- Post Shot Daggers – Increased scoring ability with hooks, fades, shimmy shots, etc.
Last thing I wanted to mention about Takeover. We wanted to honor our late friend, Kobe Bryant, who we tragically lost way too early this year. When you’ve earned all your badge points, you will receive the Mamba Mentality badge which allows you to change your takeovers whenever you want. So just like Kobe, you can vary up how you choose to take over from one game to the next!
Next-gen was an opportunity to reset on a lot of areas of gameplay. This was especially true when it came to artificial intelligence. Some of these items are immediately noticeable and some are more nuanced for the hardcore X’s and O’s hoop heads.
- New switching logic update: Both on-ball and off-ball screen logic has been rewritten and the auto-switching logic was refined to reduce bad switching instances. So expect to see fewer cases of the AI calling for a switch without a screen and leaving a player open.
- Adaptive Coaching Engine (ACE) now has the ability to recognize and adapt to different types of off-ball actions including: Flare screens, Down screens, Back screens, and Handoffs.
- Improved logic for CPU defenders to get in position to take charges.
- Several improvements to transition defense.
- Overhauled the Hedge defensive system for better screen positioning and angle targeting.
- The player can now call for help defense by holding L1/LB instead of just calling for a double team.
- Improved logic for defenders in avoiding each other when moving around obstacles. This works hand-in-hand with the off-ball movement changes I detailed in last week’s blog.
- Next Gen Game Planning: This is a great new feature that allows players and AI to have more specific game plans for their teams. The new system allows the AI to target a team’s best players. So for the Lakers, not only will they run pick & rolls, but you can have them run exclusively with LeBron and Anthony Davis. There’s a new game plan option in the pause menu. Here, players can select between 8 pre-selected game plans that they can access in game through the On-The-Fly-Coaching panel (OTFC). Each game plan has default options already set up for them, so the player can pick a single option and have all the important details for that game plan ready to go.
- Double team counter intelligence: You’ll see the AI using less movement and create more spacing for shooters spotting up behind the three point line to punish excessive double teaming.
- End of game logic: Improved the AI’s ability to time plays with the shot clock for buzzer beater situations.
- Starters and Bench Favorite Plays: This year we expanded the favorite plays to allow players to set up one group of plays for their starting unit and another group of plays for the bench units.
- Moved player-specific plays and player-specific ball screens back to the L1/LB button. This was something many people were requesting so they could get quick access to icon pick control again. Favorite plays are now mapped to the DPAD.
- Play and freelance flow: As we have done every year, the play and freelance offensive flow has been greatly improved moving to next-gen. There are several actions that we just had a hard time getting to run smoothly in past 2K games, but thanks to the logic upgrades and vastly improved motion engine, everything flows extremely well in NBA 2K21 for next gen.
- Fixed AI players accidentally positioning themselves out of bounds.
- New pick & roll spacing: New spacing code gives some of our pick & roll and isolation sets that extra adjustment on dribble penetration. It’s much more solid now but expect continued expansion on this module as the year goes along with our in-season play and AI updates.
We sincerely hope you enjoyed that incredible insight by the NBA 2K21 Game Director, Mike Wang. Don’t forget, NBA 2K21 launches on 10th November for Xbox Series X|S worldwide, before hitting PlayStation 5 on 12th November in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, and 19th November in all other regions.