Screenshot of NBA Live 18 Celebrations

What is NBA Live 18?

NBA Live 18 was developed and published by EA sports, and it is the 21st installment in the basketball simulator franchise. The game can be played on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles as well as PCs powered by Microsoft Windows. Developers decided to take a year off after producing NBA Live 16 in 2015 to come up with a more innovative title. The improvements made resulted in superior ratings, although the game was still criticized for its gameplay.

Key facts about NBA Live 18

  • NBA Live 18 has the best basketball career mode of the entire franchise.
  • Players can assume control over WNBA teams and use real-life rosters.
  • NBA Live 18 sheds a lot of light on the entire basketball culture besides the NBA.
  • Few changes were made to the Franchise and Ultimate Team modes.
  • NBA Live 18 graphics and animations still fall behind the ones of their direct competitors.

Gameplay of NBA Live 18

EA Sports made the most of the one-year break to make several changes to the gameplay of NBA Live 18. Most of the issues criticized by players and reviewers were addressed, with significant changes being made to the main game modes. The addition of the UltimateTeam made it possible for players to assemble unique themes, by combining different players. This concept was first introduced in the Madden NFL games and witnessed a swift transition to NBA.

NBA Live 18 is the first basketball simulator to feature all the athletes from the WNBA. This doesn’t change the core game mechanics and sadly the women’s basketball teams are only available in single player. Speaking of which, "The One" game mode is aimed at helping players hone their skills against the AI. It bears many similarities to the MyCareer mode in 2K Sports and in some regards it is even superior.

The customization options brought about by NBA Live 18 are largely visual and don’t influence the gameplay. Matches are played in the same format in both single player and multiplayer, although the level of competition differs. When competing against the AI, players benefit from expert commentary from Stephen Smith and Max Kellerman. This makes them feel like they are in the spotlight all the time and experience pressure similar to what NBA players are facing.

Screenshot of NBA Live 18 Harden

Plot of NBA Live 18

The One is the name the developers chose to give to the single player campaign. It gets players fully immersed into a solo career that is only tangentially influenced by the plot of NBA Live 18. Players create a team from scratch and then tried to move up the standing by winning as many games as possible. In the regular season, they are pit against teams from the entire NBA league, in a very similar format to what happens in real life. Home pitch advantage is less important, but the atmosphere is similar.

Players are encouraged to spend as much time as needed playing the single player, before moving on to competitive games. The One has the shortcomings of not being story driven and it feels more like a sequence of random games. Players know precisely what they are heading for, yet it is pretty easy to lose focus at some point. Eventually, everyone will have an itchy finger for multiplayer. Once the transition is made, the NBA Live 18 plot is powerless to bring players back to single player.

The only things that can reignite the enthusiasm up for matches against AI controlled opponents are team-based events. Players can put their skill to the test against legendary players and if they win this will act as a springboard for their character. NBA Live 18 developers wanted to make sure that players are given plenty of incentives to grow their characters. That’s perhaps why there are so many side missions during the main campaign set. Unfortunately, the WNBA addition feels like an afterthought, since these teams are not available for multiplayer games.

Screenshot of NBA Live 18 Cavaliers

Development of NBA Live 18

NBA Live 18 was highly anticipated by the fans, mostly because no game was released in the previous year. The developers decided not to rush it and instead wait a bit longer to come up with the next title. The goal was to give themselves more time to implement new concepts, while also ramping up interest. In any case, development of NBA Live 18 started in 2017 and the game was released on time.

Its availability on main platforms meant that PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows PC owners could enjoy it. Visual changes were made galore, but the gameplay remains largely unchanged and was mostly tweaked for smoothness. A lot of attention was paid to the single player campaign, to make it more attractive and more likely to keep players hooked. The addition of the WNBA generated mixed reactions, with players celebrating the idea but criticizing implementation.

Where can I download NBA Live 18?

EA Sports is a one-stop shop for downloading any sports simulators developed and published by the videogame giant. It makes perfect sense to go straight to their website to download this game, as well as any of the previous games in the franchise. Those who land on their website to download NBA Live 18 should also consider other games covering different genres. Star Wars Battlefront, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Dragon Age Origins and Crysis 3 are good suggestions.

What are others saying about NBA Live 18?

NBA Live 18 development started later than expected and took longer than what previous installments required. All these paid off eventually, as the game received better review scores than the previous installment. Most of the criticism that affected the last game was addressed, although new issues popped up immediately after its official release. While they regard it as a good choice for casual players, it was frequently compared with 2K’s take on basketball simulators.

Screenshot of NBA Live 18 Pre Order

The single player campaign received most of the praise, since it was clearly a step forward. Having said this, the critics couldn’t help but notice that despite the two year window, progress was minimal. In any case, EA sports was not capable of coming up with a product that would outshine competitors. Heavy criticism was directed at those who greatly limited the potential of the WNBA additions. Players were unhappy with the fact that the women’s teams were only available in single player.

Critics were quick to notice the overall improvements made by EA with its new basketball simulator. Many of them still regard it as the weakest link in the entire chain of sports simulators. Except for the thorough approach towards creating a complete roster featuring active players, all other elements were subject to some form of a criticism. Perhaps the most painful remarks are the ones regarding the lack of fluidity and the somewhat unconvincing animations.

My Rating of NBA Live 18

I have to admit that when EA Sports decided not to release a basketball simulator in 2016 I wasn’t disappointed. The previous installment in the series left me with a bad taste and little hope for what the future might bring. NBA Live 18 made some amends and proved that there is still hope for this struggling franchise. It brings in new game modes, has a better single player and an improved gameplay. Obviously all these improvements help, but I can’t help but feeling that it’s too little too late.

2K Sports is firmly at the helm in this line of work and it is simply easier to recommend NBA 2K18 than NBA Live 18. I’ve had some fun with The One single player, but I was less than impressed with both Franchise and Ultimate Team. Sadly the WNBA failed to reach its full potential and it is hard to explain why EA Sports failed to capitalize on a good idea. The bottom line is that I can only rate this game 6/10 and I wouldn’t feel terribly disappointed if developers take another yearly break.