On the eve of the next generation in console gaming, 2K Sports and Visual Concepts is looking to raise their game for the NBA 2K franchise.
NBA 2K21 will not only be available on current-gen devices, but it will also mark the series’ grand debut on PS5 and Xbox Series X. And as expected, a host of changes will be made to the on-court action and notable improvements to this new entry’s visual prowess will be put on display. Expectations for the 22nd installment within the NBA 2K series are high and, judging by its lineup of cover athletes, those expectations are well warranted. Dame Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans, and the dearly departed Kobe Bryant don the covers for NBA 2K21’s various editions this time around. Let’s all hope those stars are representative of the game’s overall quality.
Now’s the time to delve into NBA 2K1 and what it will bring to the table for longtime basketball sim fanatics.
NBA 2K21 Release Date & Playable Platforms
NBA 2K21 is slated to launch on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Google Stadia on September 4, 2020. The next-gen version of the game will launch on November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series S/X), and November 12, 2020 (PS5).
NBA 2K21 Demo Release Date
The free demo for NBA 2K21 on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch will be available for download starting on August 24, 2020.
NBA 2K21 Reveal Trailer
NBA 2K21’s major on-court gameplay changes are mainly represented by the way players will be able to utilize the Pro Stick. Past entries in the series allowed players to point their controller’s right analog stick in any direction in order to pull off a jump shot. NBA 2K21 changes things up by offering different ways to pull off jump shots and perform a host of other offensive maneuvers. A slew of new signature shot types, escape dribble moves, size-up animations, and 1-to-1 size up packages have been thrown in for good measure. Alongside those new offensive maneuvers, players will also be introduced to new defensive motion packages that replicate the distinct motions of players such as Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley.
Check out the list below to see the many right analog stick directions you can now rely on for certain moves:
• Hold the right stick down: jump shot
• Hold the right stick left or right: escape dribble moves
• Hold the right stick up: signature size-ups
• Tap the right stick: quick 1-to-1 dribble moves
• Tap the right stick with Sprint held: quick momentum dribble moves
NBA 2K17’s Shot Stick Aiming is making its return in NBA 2K21 and improving upon it for the Pro Stick control mechanics. NBA 2K Gameplay director Mike Wang went into great detail via a PlayStation Blog entry when describing how this shooting change will work:
For NBA 2K21, when you shoot with the Pro Stick, the shot meter changes from a timing bar to a targeting system. So instead of trying to stop the shot meter when you reach the perfect release window, you adjust the Pro Stick in real time to hit the ideal center aim point. The target window resizes dynamically based on player ability, shooting range, and how well the shot is contested and can also shift to the left or right based on the shot’s degree of difficulty. If you miss the target too far to the left or right, your shot will miss in that direction.
The aiming concept also applies to finishing layups, replicating the idea of having “good touch” around the rim. As you’re driving you can still hold the Pro Stick in any direction to start a layup, but this year, you’ll want to quickly swing the stick to move the aiming tick to the center of the target. Aiming layups well can help overcome shot contests and help you finish through contact.
Of course, players have the option to switch to NBA 2K20’s traditional shooting control scheme if they’d rather not use the new Shot Stick Aiming feature. Fans will also be pleased to hear that NBA 2K21 will do away with the Quick Draw player badge and put release speed back into the Jump Shot Creator.
This year’s installment of the legacy MyTEAM mode is receiving some notable changes and enhancements. First off, players will be happy to know that their progress and collections within MyTEAM on current-gen consoles will carry over to the next-gen version of NBA 2K21. Secondly, a new concept called Seasons will be implemented within MyTEAM. Seasons will play out across six weeks in length or more and challenge players to complete Daily, Weekly, and Season-based Agendas. As you earn XP for fulfilling those objectives, you’ll level up and acquire rewards each time. If you’re able to level up to the final level of a Season, you’ll end up walking away with the grand prize.
Seasons will also bring with it new Vault prizes that are updated every Season in Triple Threat, new Cumulative Win prizes that are added every Season in Triple Threat, new Wins in subsequent Seasons, new Boards updates that are added every Season in the online version of Triple Threat, a new Season Prize in the new MyTEAM Limited mode, new Prizing Updates that will be added every Season in MyTEAM Unlimited 2.0, new Combinations that will be added every season in The Exchange, Dynamic Domination Season Updates, and new cards that will be added every Season to the Reward Market. You can get more detail on each newly added feature at the following link.
Also coming to MyTEAM this year are the following features – MyTEAM Limited, MyTEAM Unlimited 2.0, The Exchange, Ascension, and the return of player customization via Badge Cards. One of the returning MyTEAM elements from NBA 2K20 making its return here is Evolution Cards, which players now have more control over as those cards reach new tiers. MyTEAM Limited will act as a limited-time game mode that will run from every Friday-Sunday – new rules will be implemented during every weekend as players look to grab the Championship Ring and earn a new top-tier card along the way.
MyTEAM Unlimited 2.0 will now consist of nine Leagues that players will have to compete in to reach the highest tier and earn the greatest reward. The Exchange allows players to trade in their current cards for better ones. And Ascension acts as a sort of prizing minigame that allows players to collect the rewards seen on any of the cards they flip over. Flipping over certain cards lets you ascend to higher tiers of cards and be able to find the Grand Prize within the third tier of cards if you’re lucky enough.
MyCAREER and The Neighborhood
This year’s MyCAREER will throw players into the life of a custom baller named Junior within a story called “The Long Shadow.” Junior is the son of a famous basketball player who struggles with living up to his father’s legacy and forging his own path through high school and college to the NBA.
The college portion of MyCAREER will include 10 officially licensed colleges that Junior can play for – Michigan State, UConn, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, UCLA, Villanova University, and West Virginia. Top Hollywood talent is connected to this year’s MyCAREER presentation, such as Jesse Williams, Michael K. Williams, Djimon Hounsou, and Mireille Enos. NBA 2K21’s cover stars Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson are also involved in making Junior’s story as authentic as possible.
NBA 2K21’s version of the Neighborhood comes with the usual modes fans have become accustomed to, such as 3v3 streetball and 5v5 ProAm Games. But the biggest addition to the retooled Neighborhood is its new main locale, which is known as 2K Beach. 2K Beach is clearly inspired by Southern California’s beaches and will feature in-game shops such as SWAG’s, The REC, and the NBA Store.
NBA 2K21’s soundtrack is set to feature 48 brand new songs from popular artists such as The Weeknd, Juice WRLD, Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, and countless others. And just like NBA 2K20, new songs will be added to NBA 2K21 as the year winds down. Feel free to check out all the announced songs for the game’s soundtrack down below and listen to it via Spotify:
• “Blinding Lights” – The Weeknd
• “WHATS POPPIN” – Jack Harlow
• “God’s Eyes” – Roddy Ricch
• “Let Me Know” (I Wonder Why Freestyle)” – Juice WRLD
• “No Threat” – Anonymuz, Denzel Curry
• “Sum 2 Prove” – Lil Baby
• “Bronze” – Stormzy
• “GATTI” – JACKBOYS, Pop Smoke & Travis Scott
• “Go Stupid” – Polo G, Stunna 4 Vegas, NLE Choppa and Mike WiLL Made-It
• “Value” – A$AP Ferg
• “Venom” – Little Simz
• “Bad Decisions” – The Strokes
• “Dior” – Pop Smoke
• “Ruthless” – Lil Tjay and Jay Critch
• “Fight for Your Right” – J Hus
• “CROWN” – CHIKA
• “Season Ticket Holder” – Rick Ross, D. Wade, Raphael Saadiq, and UD
• “Red Eye” – Young Boy Never Broke Again
• “My Block” – Che Lingo
• “Broke in a Minute” – Tory Lanez
• “Evisu” – Lauren Declasse
• “BREATHIN'” – Ocean Wisdom and P. Money
• “Dream the Dare” – Pure Bathing Culture
• “SWISH” – Chris Patrick
• “Cameras” – Jay Critch, Nick Mira, and jetsonmade
• “Routine” – Wale, Meek Mill and Rick Ross
• “Balling” – Cardi B and Simba.Got.It
• “SAME TEAM” – Jerreau
• “Don’t I?” – Tarik
• “I Want All the Bags” – Red Cafe
• “Cold” – Boy in Space and unheard
• “Racks” – Abderly
• “Any Other Way” – Stix
• “$ and Problems” – Samwyse
• “Balmain Belt” – Chaz Marcus
• “THEYKNO FREESTYLE” – Rae Khalil
• “How It Is” – Malz Monday
• “Alarm” – ELO
• “3 Pointer” – Sage English
• “Game Time” – Black$tar and Tyson Meshaq
• “Work” – Irie Da Brat
• “Photograph” – ill Nicky, Jared Anthony BangerOfheDay, and Cheeba Hawk
• “BALL” – Zebbo
• “Wave” – Avidince
• “A Dub” – Ro$$ Mac
• “Mayday” – Jared Anthony
• “Hoop Dreams” – Fight Gang DraE and Glenn
• “The Next” – Kap Peezy
NBA 2K21 is currently available for pre-order (right here) via two separate editions – the Standard Edition and Mamba Forever Edition dedicated to Kobe Bryant. The current-gen version of the game will retail for the usual price of $60, while the next-gen version will bump up in price to $70. The pre-order bonuses that come with the Standard Edition include 5,000 Virtual Currency, 5,000 MyTEAM Points, 10 MyTEAM Promo packs (delivered one a week), six MyCAREER Skill Boosts, five pairs of sneakers from the MyCAREER Shoe Collection, access to the Damian Lillard Digital Collection, and three MyCAREER Gatorade Boosts.
As for the Mamba Forever Edition, the pre-order bonuses that will come to its recipients are 100,000 Virtual Currency, 10,000 MyTEAM Points, 10 MyTEAM Tokens, 60 MyCAREER Skill Boosts, 40 MyTEAM Promo Packs (10 at launch, then three per week), Sapphire Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson MyTEAM cards, 30 MyCAREER Gatorade Boosts, five pairs of sneakers from the MyCAREER Shoe Collection, the MyPLAYER backpack, and access to the Kobe Bryant Digital Collection.
Purchasing the current-gen version of NBA 2K21’s Mamba Forever Edition gets players access to the standard edition on next-gen consoles (PS4 to PS5 and Xbox One to Xbox Series X). That next-gen upgrade deal also comes with a bonus batch of 100,000 Virtual Currency and access to the Zion Williamson Digital Collection.