E3 2018: NBA Live 19 Focuses on Realism on the Court

EA took a year off with its NBA Franchise and brought back NBA Live 18. It was a pleasant surprise that offered a more approachable game of basketball than its competition. It won some fans over and did better in some aspects of the game. For the price, it was worth every penny, but still needed some more polish. The One ended up being an excellent mode to play and NBA Live 19 looks to expand on that with new locations and other additions. We spent some time on the court at E3 2018 Connor Dougan, Creative Director for NBA Live 19 to go over how the team is propelling the game forward.

NBA Live 18 was a fluid game of basketball and Connor stated that improving on that is the focus on the court with Live 19. “From a gameplay perspective, we are looking to make the game more smooth and responsive,” Connor said. “That’s really where Real Player Emotion comes in. A lot of the transitions are smoother and responsive. Last year, we introduced the one-on-one ball mechanics. We have taken those mechanics that were on-the-ball and taken them to off-the-ball. You can use off-ball one-on-one to give players more stuff to do. Another thing is the dynamic environments. Players will sometimes interact or even crash into things like the bench or a camera man. The game will also get new lighting and improved shaders and the outdoor courts look crazy.”

The NBA Live franchise is really the only sports game that properly implements the ESPN presentation that EA has had the license for for years. We asked Connor about the enhancements the presentation will see this year. “We’ve redone the tickers and new lights. From an ESPN perspective, we’ve always tried to update to the latest overlay or whatever ESPN is doing.”

The A.I. will look to come alive more in Live 19, as well. “There is a lot more off-ball movement,” said Connor. “We introduced a new system called dynamic A.I. The goal is to make every game feel different. So we introduced new A. I. behaviors such as player takeover and instigator player. With player takeover, once a star player starts to make a couple of buckets, we’ve modified the A.I. to go to that player and call plays for that player. We emulate that in our game. There’s other behaviors as well, such as Draymond Green instigating and talking trash during specific situations in a game. If you get an and-1, you can choose to instigate and taunt players.”

Diving into The One mode, there were be some great changes such as replays with cell phone cameras from the crowd and crowds will also storm the court after a game. “We put a lot into this game,” said Connor. Icons are in the game and players in The One will work towards these Icons. One example is Dikembe Mutombo, known as The Mountain. Reaching the Icons traits will create buffs such as an increased percentage in shot blocking if going the route of The Mountain. You can also recruit players from other teams you play in The One to join you on your journey. These are known as The Squad.

NBA Live 19 looks to be more than just a fresh coat of paint. A lot has gone in to replicating real life on the court and going even deeper with The One. The Franchise Mode should also be more intuitive according to Connor, as well. NBA Live 19 launches on September 7 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There will be more news coming in the next few months.