Screenshot of NBA 2K18 Game Cover

What is NBA 2K18?

NBA 2K18 is the latest basketball simulator published by 2K Sports and developed by Visual Concepts. As the 19th game in the franchise, it uses the same core game mechanics of its predecessor, NBA 2K17. The game can be played on all consoles and has Kylie Irving and Shaquille O’Neal as cover athletes. It is widely considered the best basketball simulator ever produced and focuses exclusively on NBA matches. It has more game modes than its predecessors and an impressive licensed soundtrack with nearly 50 songs

Key facts about NBA 2K18

  • NBA 2K18 has stellar on-court action and features athletes that resemble their real counterparts.
  • The new installment has several distinct game modes, all original and with great depth.
  • NBA 2K18 has a coherent player progression system and a mildly exciting single player.
  • The My Career cutscenes look great, but were criticized by some players for being unable to skip.
  • NBA 2K18 uses the same game engine and the last two games in the franchise.

Gameplay of NBA 2K18

The decision to stick to the same game engine explains why the gameplay of NBA 2K18 hasn’t changed much. Even so, it brilliantly succeeds at capturing the very essence of the National Basketball Association and realistically depicts its matches. During the single player campaign as well as during game modes, players can choose customized players or real athletes. They have the option of customizing the settings of different game modes too.

NBA 2K18 has secured licensing rights with the NBA to feature players from past generations. Players can re-create the atmosphere of the 90s and 80s, while assuming control of the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics. They also have the option of assembling all-time teams comprised of players who compete in different eras. Kevin Garnet and Kobe Bryant are among the commentators, which greatly enhanced the fun factor during single player matches.

The highlight of the NBA 2K18 gameplay is the manner in which the MyCareer game mode teaches players about core game mechanics. It has hundreds of hours of gameplay, with a lot of time being spent customizing players and teams. The storyline is fairly exciting, but its greatest merit is that it gives players the opportunity to tinker with the games numerous customization features. Everything from body types and hairstyles can be changed, although some of these changes cost money.

NBA 2K18 brings back the MyGM and MyLeague game modes, which stimulate the managing spirit of those playing. Players can choose between realism and extra customization options, as each game mode has its own perks. Real life changes such as the Collective Bargaining Agreement adopted by the NBA were also taken into account. The end result is one of the most realistic basketball simulators ever.

Screenshot of NBA 2K18 Celebration

Plot of NBA 2K18

The NBA 2K18 plot is just an excuse for players to learn the ropes and prepare for multiplayer. Even so, the return of the MyTeam mode makes the gaming experience more intense. Players are supposed to create the ultimate team while also tinkering with trading card collections. Matches unfold in a format similar to real basketball tournaments and involve teams from several states. Based on their performance, players accumulate points, as well as the virtual currency they spend on customizations.

In order to keep the game fresh, developers decided to introduce a brand-new game mode, which goes by the name of Neighborhoods. Without being a fully fledged game mode, it complements MyPark and ProAm. What makes it special is that it uses an open world design, which is not characteristic to sports simulators. Players are encouraged to complete various activities, in order to accumulate virtual currency, level up and make purchases.

Pack and Playoffs is one of the new features introduced to make the NBA 2K18 story more exciting. It also simplifies the manner in which players assemble their teams for the decisive stages of the competition. Players need to use the right strategy and try to stay one step ahead of their competitors, to create the best team synergy. These add a new layer of complexity to a game that has otherwise changed very little since last year.

During the single player campaign there are very few issues affecting the quality of the gameplay. However, when competing against real people, players might encounter some frame rate issues during timeouts. The narrative is not strong enough to create a sort of bond between players and the athletes they have spent so much time customizing.

Screenshot of NBA 2K18 Story Mode

Development of NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18 was released on time after being announced in Januaty 2017. The developers wanted to make sure that the game would be just as fun to play on Nintendo Switch. It is after all, the first in the franchise that can be played on this console, in addition to PlayStation and Microsoft ones. The cover athletes differ based on the region where the game was released and they were also influenced by the NBA trades.

Players have the option of purchasing special editions and they could preorder the game at a discounted price. Development of NBA 2K18 continued after the game was officially unveiled in September 2017. Companion apps were produced for Android and iOS powered devices and they go by the name of MyNBA2K18. Ever since the game was released, developers came up with various patches, to address all technical issues quickly.

Where can I download NBA 2K18?

NBA 2K18 can be downloaded from the 2K website, where other sports simulators are also available. NBA 2K16, WWE 2K17 and MLB 2K16 are three of the most popular games produced by this company. All of them are a part of bigger franchises, which have started many years ago and are still on an uptrend. Out of these games, the basketball simulator is by far the most popular in terms of active players and ratings. Occasionally, these games can be acquired at a discounted price when bought in bundles.

Borderlands, Mafia 3, Bio Shock Infinite, Battleborn, XCOM 2 and Civilizations VI are also worthy additions. They belong to different genres, but they consistently ranked high in the preference of people playing games from 2K Games.

Screenshot of NBA 2K18 Chicago Bulls All Star

What are others saying about NBA 2K18?

NBA 2K18 exceeded expectations immediately after its release, with critics rating it higher than its predecessor. The thing that brought and kept the game in the spotlight was the uncanny ability of portraying real-life athletes. The graphics are better than ever before and outshine the ones in basketball simulators produced by the competition. Critics were also impressed with the changes made to the single player, although some were expecting more from the MyCareer Neighborhood hub.

Players were equally impressed by the visuals and sound effects, especially the addition of guest commentators. One of the things that prevented the game from reaching its full potential was the addition of micro-transactions. The fact that the game relies so much on them was disappointing, as it only added pressure on casual players. However, only a few players found in unbearable and many regard 2K Games to be more reasonable and EA sports in this regard.

My Rating of NBA 2K18

I have played pretty much every sports simulator I could get my hands on and basketball was always my favorite. That’s why I am fairly disappointing to witness how my interest for the latest installment dwindled immediately after its release. I didn’t expect 2K Sports to reinvent the wheel and I appreciate the improvements made to an already good game. Perhaps they just set the bar so high with the previous installments that they couldn’t improve the game too much.

NBA 2K18 is a must play game if you haven’t played a basketball simulator in a while. However, if just like me you’ve been hooked on this genre for the last couple of years, don’t set your hopes too high. This is a good game by any standards and as NBA simulators go, definitely the best. Out of context, a review score of 8/10 is well deserved, but in the great scheme of things, it is just a tiny step made forward.