NBA Live has been undergoing an identity crisis as of late. After achieving success with series last decade, the game attempted to retool itself as NBA Elite but was met with widespread negative reactions. That led to the cancellation of the game and put the series into a brief hiatus.
After a four year layoff the series returned as NBA Live 14 and while it wasn’t well received, at least this one actually came out. Two more entries were released after that and then the series took another brief break. Now we’re looking at a release of NBA Live 18 later this month and EA Sports hopes this will be the game to get the series back on track.
NBA Live 18 is debuting a story mode with this year’s iteration, just like practically every other sports game this generation. FIFA and Madden have successfully debuted their own modes so EA Sports is trying to go for the trifecta with their NBA franchise. The new mode is called The One and it focuses on your character as you try to build up from a relative no name to NBA star. It sounds like a stock story but we’re sure EA has thrown some wrenches into the mix to make this story feel new and unique. The action won’t just take place on the hardwood either as we see some playground action in the trailer and even an appearance from the Drew League.
Like Madden and FIFA before it, NBA Live 18 will also have its version of an Ultimate Team. This mode allows players to collect different ball players from the league currently or from the past and build their own custom roster. New coaches, uniforms and stadiums are also available to help you truly make your team feel like your own.
One thing NBA Live 18 has that NBA 2K18 doesn’t is the addition of the WNBA teams. This marks the first time ever the WNBA ballers have been in a video game so that’s a historic achievement in itself. The 12 teams will be available in offline head-to-head modes.
But will this be enough for NBA Live 18 to dethrone NBA 2K18? For nearly every punch NBA Live has thrown, 2K has its own counter. NBA Live’s new story mode is going up against 2K’s new neighborhood, which looks like it could change the future of sports games for years to come. The One looks good but will it be enough to compete with 2K’s story mode?
Ultimate Team has always been a big draw to the EA Sports games but NBA 2K has had a similar mode in place for several years now and it just improves more and more each year. Perhaps most importantly, NBA 2K has the backing of the actual NBA players themselves. Many of the players in the league care deeply about their 2K ratings and actually get pretty upset when they are rated lower than what they expect.
All of this could change if NBA Live 18 is well received. Early returns have been pretty positive, especially around the new story mode. The problem with NBA Live is that it can’t seem to build enough momentum before it falls off the rails. If EA Sports is able to string together enough strong entries in a row, then it may be enough to take 2K’s spot. As for right now, one solid entry isn’t enough to topple the 2K juggernaut. Check back with us in a few years to see if the king is dethroned.
NBA 2K18 releases on September 19, 2017 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. NBA Live 18 releases four days earlier on September 15 for Xbox One and PS4.