NBA 2K16 Could Be the Sports RPG We’ve Always Dreamed Of

Forget about all the nonsense that comes out of the Madden and FIFA camps, NBA 2K is the annual sports franchise that evolves the most. While every advancement isn’t necessarily for the better (the horrifying images that resulted from NBA 2K15‘s facial recognition software can attest to this), you can’t say that Visual Concepts isn’t doing its best to make every NBA 2K title feel novel. What makes this series special comes from the incredible commitment to gameplay excellence combined with added features to deliver a sports title with unparalleled depth. This is a franchise that has captured a bona fide nerd’s heart (my three favorite games this year are The Witcher 3Axiom Vergeand Her Story), which is no small feat.  After last year’s promising entry, which saw a massive redesign to the signature MyCareer mode, NBA 2K16 is hoping to take the sports game universe by storm. If this year’s entry is going to be the best basketball game ever, which certainly is an attainable feat for this franchise, it has to continue to develop its most promising feature: its RPG-style MyCareer mode.

When I reviewed NBA 2K15 last year, I was all but blown away with how much MyCareer mode had evolved in a single calendar year. While the stat increases and dialogue trees of years past were entertaining enough, there was always a hope deep inside of my bones that NBA 2K would jump headfirst into the RPG realm. After all, when you think about why games like The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition are addictive, it basically boils down to an awesome combination of story, statistical progression and experimentation. The idea of taking your created player, guiding him through the NBA season, attempting to assert dominance in limited playtime and upgrade his stats was always addictive, but last year’s title seemed to take this idea and run with it. It’s very rare that a AAA developer understands the perfect direction to progress without sacrificing everything else (remember the disaster that was NHL 15?), but it seems as though Visual Concepts knows exactly what it’s doing.


The idea of building a narrative around being an undrafted free agent made for an exciting experience in NBA 2K15. When you think about the moment-to-moment action in MyCareer mode, it obviously consists of playing basketball games over and over again, so having some sort of narrative context breaks up any monotony that this may cause. With NBA 2K16, which is hilariously being dubbed a Spike Lee Joint, the opportunity for a meaningful NBA narrative experience (think about how ridiculous and awesome that concept is for a second) is only going to grow, which should be amazing. Even though NBA 2K15‘s cutscenes were often terrible, they were the type of awful that was entertaining in the best way. Now that there is going to be tales of high school and college success added to the mix, there’s going to be a lot more fun to be had in MyCareer mode. What’s more, these new narrative elements, if executed correctly. could allow for a number of interesting RPG elements to be added to the mix.

One of the biggest additions to this year’s iteration of NBA 2K is the management of your player’s off-the-court life. If this is anything like the magic that was the house decorating simulator that was featured in ESPN NFL 2K5 (the greatest sports game of all time), then this has the potential to be something special. Not only will you have to deal with the press and life your life outside of the gym, but you’ll have to manage your player’s finances. Think about what could happen if you go completely broke and can’t afford to live in the middle of a season? Will this affect your on-court performance? Will the press pick up on your financial struggles and reflect this in their post-game questions? This is another element that should add to the statistical revamping that took place last year, and if all goes well, it’ll add another layer of depth to the deepest sports series on the market today. The biggest question with all of this off-the-court insanity is whether or not Spike Lee has written a dynamic story to reflect the turmoil or success that could occur here, as proficiency in this department could make for a wonderful, wonderful campaign.

 fans are obviously stoked for another iteration of their favorite sports series, and there will be constant battles in dorms across the country after NBA 2K16 launches, but if everything shakes out, this could be a sports game that hooks in an entirely new audience. There’s something truly special going on at Visual Concepts, and if the famous basketball title developer is able to hook in the RPG gamer contingent, then 2K16 could explode. Every year there seems to be another layer of depth added to MyCareer mode, which should create a great deal of excitement.

Oh, and there’s not a chance in the world that Anthony Davis won’t be the most exciting player in NBA 2K16, so brace yourself for a new level of one-player dominance in those head-to-head matches thanks to The Brow.