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NBA 2K24 Review: All the Same Trappings

NBA 2K24 is mechanically sound, but microtransactions keep it from being the best it could be.

For as long as it’s been around, the NBA 2K series has been by far the best when it comes to emulating NBA basketball. NBA 2K24 is no different in this regard. It boasts all the gameplay fluidity, signature mechanics, and animations that have pushed it to the forefront of the sports game genre. Unfortunately, NBA 2K24 is also another title that forces you to pay beyond the price of admission to be everything it’s supposed to be.

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NBA 2K24 Review: All the Same Trappings

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To start, NBA 2K24 is a very good game if we’re speaking in terms of pure gameplay. In fact, one could even argue that when it comes down to the meat and potatoes of it all, 2K24 is an improvement upon past series entries.

For one, developer Visual Concepts has overhauled the gameplay this year with Pro Play. This emulates the action you see in the NBA better than ever before with more realistic animations and player movement. 2K24 also includes several new shot animations and more shot settings to help you fine-tune your style.

Dribbling has also received an overhaul. While the meta has varied in past entries, NBA 2K24 is more keen to reward those who can master crossovers and opposite-hand dribble moves. This means the dribble styles of virtuoso ball handlers like the agile Kyrie Irving and the incomparable Kobe Bryant will be the preferred approach for anyone playing online. Certain players will pick up on this meta sooner than others. But with enough time, you’ll be sizing up the opposition from the perimeter in no time.

Shooting is more or less the same, which isn’t a bad thing. Though online play still feels a lot like green-or-miss from time to time, the addition of Visual Shot Cue Settings — a replacement for shot-timing settings — gives you more options when it comes to how they want to execute inputs.

Visual Concepts has also added many new layup animations. These replace the stale ones that seemed to have been in the franchise forever. This isn’t to say the graphics have improved much. It looks more or less identical to 2K23 in terms of player models and visual fidelity. But once again, that’s not really a bad thing, considering the 2K series has consistently been one of the better-looking sports games on the market for quite some time.

NBA 2K24 is Pay-to-Win in the Worst Way

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Anyone reading this might be thinking: “Well, this all sounds good so far.” But that’s where the good about NBA 2K24 comes to a full stop, and its old dirty habits rear their ugly heads.

Like virtually all of its past iterations, NBA 2K24 is simply shameless when it comes to microtransactions. If you want to be competitive in online modes, such as the flagship MyPlayer, you’re all but forced to spend money on Virtual Currency (VC) to max out whatever build you’re using. And the amount you’ll have to spend is nothing short of mind-bending.

If you buy the Black Mamba version of NBA 2K24, you get 100,000 VC to spend right off the rip. While that seems like a decent deal, it’s not in all actuality. Not only does the Black Mamba edition retail for a wallet-breaking $99.99, but 100,000 VC isn’t nearly enough to max out your player to take them on the MyCity online courts. Spending just under half of that brings your 60 overall Brown Shirt player to a measly 70 overall. If you want to play competitively, your pro must be in at least the mid-80s.

To achieve that quickly, you have to be comfortable with spending real-life money. If you wish to max your pro, you’ll spend anywhere from 350k to 400k worth of VC, according to my calculations. And that’s just the most generous of guesses. Assuming you got the standard edition, you’ll be forced to fork out close to $100 (if not more) of real cash to make your player as good as they can be.

If you choose not to spend money on microtransactions, you’re in for a serious grind. To make an amount of VC that feels commensurate, you’d have to play well over a season’s worth of MyCareer games — and then some. And that’s assuming you play well in all of them. And let’s face it, most of the more experienced NBA 2K players are willing to part ways with their hard-earned cash for the gratification of wrecking everyone in their path, be it in MyPlayer or the Ultimate Team-styled MyTeam.

It’s all shamelessly pay-to-win and predatory. With the recent calamities associated with games like Diablo Immortal or Gran Turismo 7 — games that were bogged down by their best pieces of content being locked behind a paywall — one would think 2K Games would at least try not to squeeze every last dollar out of their customer base. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

NBA 2K24 Review — The Bottom Line

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Pros

  • Fluid gameplay that perfectly emulates NBA action.
  • The new dribbling mechanics offer fun, new ways to take on opponents.
  • MyPlayer builds offer the potential for a lot of variety, even if certain metas will eventually win out over time.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer a significant graphical improvement over past titles.
  • Grindy to the point where progressing without spending money requires full-time commitment.
  • In-game microtransactions nearly make it a pay-to-win title, rewarding those with money to spend and punishing those who don’t.

What makes NBA 2K24 all the more frustrating is that at its core, it’s a perfectly competent, if not exceptional, sports game. That’s especially true when compared to contemporaries such as FIFA (soon to be EA Sports FC) and Madden. Not only is the open-world adjacent MyCareer mode fun, but new modes such as Mamba Moments and the time-warping myNBA Eras also give you tons of mileage. But to get the absolute most out of it, you’re forced to pay extra. And that’s a hard pill to swallow.

[Note: 2K Games provided the Xbox Series X|S copy of NBA 2K24 used for this review.]

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NBA 2K24 Review: All the Same Trappings
NBA 2K24 is mechanically sound, but microtransactions keep it from being the best it could be.

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Christian Smith
Christian Smith is a musician, sports fan, and lifelong gamer. After spending time in and out of bands during his formidable years, Christian began his writing career in 2017. Since then, he has amassed bylines on websites such as Collider, SVG, Looper, and SB Nation among others. Outside of writing guides for GameSkinny, Christian can be found either playing through Metal Gear Solid 3 or in attendance at NYCFC matches.