The 2K franchise is notorious for using a system of remaking the same game with a few unique features every year. We all know this, but we still buy the game anyways. There’s really nothing like schooling your little cousin with a step back jumper, or ‘posterizing’ your boy with a fat 360 windmill jam. I mean, I can do none of that in real life, because let’s be real, I’m sure the majority of gamers that play NBA 2K18 aren’t actually that good at basketball.
But NBA 2K18 brings a whole other world to the floor, and I mean that quite literally. Other than the bare bones workings of the hardwood, we have The Neighborhood mode, which ties into the game’s MyCAREER, MyPARK, and ProAm modes altogether. The Neighborhood is an open-world experience, kind of like Grand Theft Auto but mostly centered around basketball, and not about living a life of crime. You get to maneuver your character around a neighborhood block that features basketball courts, your team’s training facility, a barbershop, and a whole lot of other nifty elements.
This game achieved most of the users’ expectations, but The Neighborhood mode had NBA 2K18 ascend the ranks as one of the better sports games of the year. The game has been out for a bit over six months, but if you still haven’t discovered them yet, here are 25 things you didn’t notice in NBA 2K18.
25 Big Baller Run
The NBA world has been pulled asunder by the Big Baller family, with Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers taking center stage amongst all the ruckus. Now, you are either a fan or a ‘hater’ of Lavar Ball and his antics, but you can’t deny the publicity and hype he has generated around his brand. The family has their own clothing line, reality TV show, and they’ve made numerous television appearances, including this gem on WWE. This gem actually birthed the ‘Lavar Ball run’, which made its way into the game as a signature animation. If you go into your ‘MyPLAYER Lab’, you can find the run in the ‘signature movement’ section under the ‘signature animations’ tab. Now you too can run like a Big Baller!
24 This Is Too Meta
If you’ve played the story mode in NBA 2K17, then you ought to be pretty familiar with both of these names. Did you know Michael Jordan and Michael Jordan are in NBA 2K17? I don’t mean to confuse you, because I’m talking about both the legendary Chicago Bulls player, and the actor (ok I know it’s Michael B. Jordan, but just level with me). But yes, Michael B. Jordan plays Justice Young in NBA 2K17’s story mode.
In NBA 2K18, there’s a dialogue sequence in The Neighborhood mode where some players are talking about one fictional basketball player they would have on their team. One of them mentions Justice Young, to which one of the players replies by walking away from the conversation. It gets better because the other guy changes his answer to ‘Da Freq’ which is another callback to NBA 2K16’s main character.
23 A Storied Career
There’s no question that Allen Iverson was one of the greatest point guards to ever walk on the hardwood. He won the MVP Award in 2001, he’s an 11-time NBA All-star, and he’s had his number retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, but he’s never won the championship. But when the NBA 2K franchise began, he was their first ever cover athlete.
That’s why there’s a statue of him
In The Neighborhood mode, you can find a statue of Iverson near your team’s practice facility. You probably wouldn’t recognize it at first glance, but if you look at the cover of the first installment of NBA 2K, you’d see the resemblance. There’s no question that this man had an amazing career, so kudos to 2K for recognizing greatness.
22 Drop A Beat On ‘Em
NBA 2K’s soundtracks have always had a good balance of influence from various genres, but usually contained a lot of Hip-Hop. An understandable decision, since some of the soundtracks were curated by Hip-Hop legends such as Jay-Z, and Pharrell. Even P.Diddy is in the works of curation, as he did so for WWE 2K17. In fact, there’s one rapper, who goes by the pseudonym of Dame D.O.L.L.A, who’s got some notable influence upon NBA 2K18, and the NBA world itself. In The Neighborhood mode, you can find a recording studio in an alleyway where upon entering, you’ll trigger a short skit with yourself and Dame D.O.L.L.A. If you didn’t already know, that’s Damian Lillard, the star point guard of the Portland Trail Blazers. When he’s not schooling other guards with his slick jumpshot, he’s out there grinding in the studio.
21 Curry With The Shot!
There are certain elements in the NBA 2K franchise that have always irked me. For example, you’ve got an amazing three-point shooter on your team, and let’s say it’s Steph Curry. You pass it to him, and he’s wide open in the corner. You take the shot, and he still misses, even though it seems like you synced the meter and your shot timer almost perfectly.
That’s a controller-throwing moment, and I’d quit the game right there
I mean sure, it’s not realistic that you make 100% of your shots, but when it’s a simulated environment, and all the conditions are met, you should succeed, right? Well, NBA 2K now allows you to change your shot meter color. This might not influence your shot that much, but it does give you a better visual aid.
20 Greatest Sneakers Of All Time?
Nike has really got it going on when it comes to basketball shoes. They’ve signed the biggest basketball icons to their name, most notably Michael Jordan. They’ve also got other basketball icons such as Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Paul George.
There’s nothing like the Jordan brand sneaker
It’s no longer just a basketball accessory, it’s a fashion statement. Imagine Barack Obama wearing a pair of “J’s” while strolling through Central Park. It’s the centerpiece to any outfit that offsets its balance, because you can’t not gravitate to the pair. In NBA 2K18, you can get your own pair of Jordan brand sneakers. In The Prelude to the Neighborhood mode, you’ll see tables of Jordan brand sneakers. At one end of the display, you’ll get a prompt to take a selfie with the shoes. Once you do that, you’ll unlock the Jordan 32’s!
19 Hey Bro, 1v1 Me
The head-to-head, or ‘1v1’ as some say, is the gamers’ way of measuring their skill against yours, even though it isn’t always practical. In some games, it makes sense because they’re designed like that, like sports games. But otherwise, it serves no purpose, such as in League of Legends or Overwatch. Those are team-based games, so your skill isn’t dependent on how well you do against one person, rather, it’s how well you do against the whole.
Which is why it’s useless in NBA 2K18.
In The Neighborhood mode, there’s a court that serves as grounds for the head-to-head, but not using teams. Rather, it’s your avatar against the opponent’s. This mini-game doesn’t give the player or the opponent any experience points or in-game currency, so there’s really no benefit other than showing off your skills.
18 The Lob, THE GLITCH!
A lot of criticism against the NBA 2K franchise were the number of glitches and bugs their games seemed to have. They address the issue, they ‘fix’ the glitch with an update in a much later patch, and then a new bug appears. The glitches are never ending it seems, but that shouldn’t take away from the game, right? Wrong.
In the Neighborhood mode, you get a phone that allows you to check messages and e-mails, access apps, and whatever else a phone can do. However, there’s a glitch that occurs when you check a message from “Bryan.” Bryan is your agent, you know, the guy who pretty much runs your life in every aspect except for basketball. The game freezes if you try to check a message from him at some points in the game, but it’s not specific as to when.
17 One Day, One Dream
As someone who’s a huge basketball fan from Montreal, I’ve always wanted an NBA team. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet, but I will remain optimistic. We’ve had NBA teams come out to play exhibitions, and let me tell you, the crowds in Montreal are absolutely electric. If you’re a Montreal native, then I’m sure you understand the hype we had when the Expos were still a team, and when the Habs were still good.
In the MyLEAGUE mode, you can change the location of the all-star event. Toronto has yet to host an all-star game, so for us Canadians out there, this would be a dream come true, and it’s cool that we can simulate that in a digital environment.
16 The Versatility Of MyCAREER Mode
The Neighborhood mode in NBA 2K18 simulates an open-world environment, and it really is a marvel for how far the NBA 2K franchise has come. It creates a really multi-faceted experience that isn’t just centered around basketball, but also around your avatar’s social life. Users on social media (in the game, of course) trash talk you and talk about how terrible you are; you can go and get a haircut at a local barbershop; play pick-up games, all while interacting with many other online users. It really is an over-the-top online experience, but that’s the catch. The MyCAREER mode is only accessible when playing online, so this means that you can’t make any progress in a seemingly single-player mode. Consoles are notorious for having their users pay extra to access the online experience, which in my mind I believe is not worth it.
15 Super Maxing Gameplay
This was a substantial change that the developers at NBA 2K wanted to make to their online play mode. They wanted to create a balanced mode where players of any skill level can compete in a fair environment. They call it the MyTEAM Super Max. The Super Max mode adds a salary cap to your team, and seasonal gameplay to online competition
You earn player ‘cards’ with a salary allotted towards them
This seemingly creates a sense of fresh competition throughout the year. This mode works in terms of rounds, so after every round, the salary cap updates and you will build another team based on the cap. You can think of it like seasons in Overwatch or League of Legends, where your rank resets at the end of every season.
14 Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!
The auction house has been a part of the NBA 2K franchise for a few installments now, but it’s seen its share of contempt over the past few years. Firstly, the auction house is an unlockable market in NBA 2K18 where users can buy and sell players. This makes it easier for users to skip the bronze goals and not have to worry about doing the Weekly Challenges to unlock the bronze goals. Over the years, NBA 2K has continued to revamp their modes with small updates and components that make the experience that much better. In NBA 2K18, they added ‘reserve bidding’ where you can set a maximum bid price. This way, your bids will incrementally increase to keep your lead until it reaches the max. They also added ‘stacks’, which allows you to sell stacks of consumables, rather than posting each one individually.
13 The Real Superteams
It’s often up to debate that basketball nowadays is nothing like it was back in the 90s. As a matter of fact, even the 2000s is much different from this era of basketball. But things change, and basketball fanatics often compare players from this era to the past, and vice versa. They come up with theories about how Lebron James would be the best player in any era, or how Steph Curry would compliment any team.
Well in NBA 2K18, you can achieve that
NBA 2K18 features all-time teams, wherein the best players from each franchise’s history all play on one team. You can take the likes of Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal against James Harden, Tracy McGrady, and Hakeem Olajuwon. I would pay any amount of money to see this matchup go down!
12 You Activated My Trap Card
In every collectible card game, there’s always that one card that just seems to see so much play. There’s no other card that seems to rival its impact, and it becomes so overwhelming that it usually gets taken out of competitive play, or it gets ‘nerfed’ to oblivion, in which case it no longer sees play. This might not be the case when it comes to ‘strategy cards’ in NBA 2K18’s MyTEAM mode, but they certainly add an extra element of surprise for your opponent. ‘Strategy cards’ are played during timeouts and have certain effects on your team for a limited time. They give boosts to certain types of playstyles, so whether you like to push the tempo or run out the clock, you might find strategy cards could bolster your play.
11 Those Who Can’t Do, Teach
Whenever I see people criticize trade moves or free agent signings, I never understand why they do it. They feel like they always know what’s best for the team, even when they have zero influence, because they’re just fans. I get that you probably care a lot about what’s best for your team, but come on. You’re not on the court during practice and you’re not in the locker room.
You’re not on the team
But in MyGM mode, things like the G-League, two-way contracts, and other details from the NBA’S collective bargaining agreement make this mode as realistic as ever. It emulates the league better than any other sports video game. You can even expand the league to 36 teams, mix and match player pools with players from classic, all-time, or current teams.
10 King Of The Court
Every sports fan knows who Lebron James is. Whether you’re into Football, Soccer, Baseball, Hockey, or even Cricket, you know who this man is. He’s probably the most important sports figure in Basketball right now, and his influence on players not only on his team but in the league is unparalleled. When he left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, the team was left in shambles, and their record went from one of the best to one of the worst.
But while he’s the best, he’s also the most polarizing
Imagine being in that position of ‘power’, where your mere presence on any team or organization can help that much. In NBA 2K18, you can influence your team that much as well. When you reach a rating of 90 overall, you can influence trades and free agent signings.
9 This Is Too Meta Part 2
Looking for easter eggs in video games is always a good time. It’s not just about finding the egg, but about the exploration and wonder of what you might find. A lot of video games like to reference popular culture, just as a nod because the developers might also be fans. Adding this little bit of fun makes the game that much more interesting.
In this case, this is another call back to NBA 2K17
In the beginning of the Neighborhood mode, when the players are in the selection round, you see a player with the name “Levins jr.” on the back of his jersey. This is perhaps a callback to NBA 2K17’s main character in the story mode, Denver Levins. In NBA 2K17, Levins said that his girlfriend was pregnant. Could this be his kid? How far in the future are we in this game?
8 Game Recognize Game
Being recognized as one of the best players at something is an amazing accolade to achieve. I mean, people on the street might not recognize you, and they not might even know your real name. But your name is on the board, and people will look to beat that score. In NBA 2K18, there’s the Wall of Fame in the MyPlayer mode where you can see NBA 2K17’s best players. Upon first glance, you don’t quite know exactly why these players are on the wall, as it lists only their gamertag, their affiliation, and the date they got ‘Legend’ status. There’s no other stat line they consider. Moreover, it’s less of a wall, and more of a pin-up board. Lastly, there’s not really any award to being on that wall other than the achievement itself. In my mind, I don’t think it’s worth it.
7 I Give That Dunk A 5/7
I’ve watched the NBA’s dunk contest every year, and I continue to be amazed at how superb these athletes are. I mean, some of them can reach a vertical of 36 or more inches, proceed to spin, all while holding on to a basketball, and then finally dunking that ball. I don’t think we realize how good these athletes are until we try it ourselves, and my goodness is it ever hard. In NBA 2K18, you can participate in dunk contests. There’s a court in The Neighborhood mode where you and other online users can duke it out with the same flashy style as NBA players. It’s not easy though, as having to manually control your avatar in the air is no simple task.
6 You Want Me To Walk There?
If there’s one thing that a lot of people hate in open-world or adventure games, it’s the inability to fast travel, or the inability to acquire quicker movement options. Isn’t a pain when you complete a mission and they ask you to return to base, only to find out that you have to walk all the way back?
Well, NBA 2K18 got one thing right.
The Neighborhood has two locations that act as fast-travel ‘waypoints’ of sorts. One is beside The Playground, and the other is beside your team’s practice facility. While you can only from one point to another, and vice versa, it’s still a convenient little thing to have. Among all the amenities that NBA 2K18 could provide, this is an added bonus to an already cool open-world experience. Maybe adventure games could learn a thing or two from NBA 2K18.
5 We Heard You Like Games
Minigames seem to be an established convention in any video game. They either act more interesting ways to unlock new content and items, or just as a means to delve into some frivolous conduct. Some minigames have achieved a ton of success that they were released as a separate title, such as The Witcher III’s Gwent. In NBA 2K18, they have the 2K Zone. It’s sort of like a mini-arcade, but everything is basketball related. You can shoot mini-basketballs into mini-hoops, participate in quizzes (which earn you VC), and bet VC on the outcome of real NBA games. The last one seems a bit strange, because betting your virtual currency on real-life basketball is extremely similar to betting on sports.
4 Them Beats Are Fire
Whenever I play an adventure game, I’m that guy who looks to get 100% of the map covered. I do my best to leave no spot unsearched, no enemy undefeated, and certainly, nothing unseen. So when I opened up NBA 2K18 and saw that they had their own open-world mode, I didn’t even bother thinking about Easter eggs or hidden secrets, because it’s a sports game, and that’s its focus. Why would I waste my time doing that when I’m getting busy being the king of the court? But lo and behold, within the first 30 seconds of the opening credits, there’s a visual Easter egg that I completely missed. If you look closely at DJ’s open closet, you’ll see a box of records, and the one whose cover is visible is the soundtrack of NBA 2K6. A nice little callback that gives the player an insight about DJ.
3 Sports Management 101
If you ever had an agent, and I’m certain 99.9% of you haven’t, you’d understand that having someone as a legal representative, along with being able to negotiate your endorsement and contract deals, is a major plus. They’re usually there to get you the best deal for your personal benefit. However, being a big superstar athlete usually means you got someone handling every single aspect of your life except the sport your playing.
In NBA 2K18, your agent is one strange dude
As you read in the previous entry about Bryan, your agent, you’ll see how hard it is to communicate with him unless you go to his office. However, it’s already so hard finding his office that there’s a number of YouTube videos dedicated to showing his location. But at least he’s able to get you endorsement and sponsorship deals, helping you earn VC fast.
2 How Do I Look?
Customization, especially when it comes to aesthetics, is one of those elements in a video game where it isn’t entirely necessary but is really cool to have. Giving the players options to alter how they look might not seem like much, but it certainly adds an extra appreciated element to a video game. In NBA 2K18, you can customize your own shirts. Now, this doesn’t sound all that inviting, but hear me out. Once you get to 80 overall, you can create whatever design you want. You can even upload photos and have them etched on to a shirt. You can even buy other users’ created shirts using VC. However, 2K has rescinded some of the flexibility you have while designing. They removed shirts that depicted any type of copyrighted or trademarked material or logos. But otherwise, you’re ‘free’ to do as you please.
1 This Is Streetball
When I said in previous entries that NBA 2K18 went all-out for the open-world experience, I wasn’t kidding. NBA 2K18 brought back the park cards, which began in NBA 2K16. Park cards are temporary in-game boosts that give you extra attributes. They vary in level, ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. Park cards can only be used in The Playground, a court where online users can play pick-up ball, and is accessible in The Neighborhood. This is a bit unfortunate because it seems like park cards could be more influential if they could be utilized in MyCareer games. While they seem quite useful, they’re actually somewhat underwhelming, since players who simply have better stats or are just better players can outweigh the value of any park card.