The NBA 2K series is one that I’ve been playing annually since NBA 2K8, usually spending dozens, if not hundreds of hours with the basketball sim each year. The way I play the game has evolved over the years, as early on I would only play the mode formerly known as The Association to get the experience of managing my favorite franchise (the Utah Jazz). Starting with either 2K19 or 2K20, I discovered the card-collecting MyTEAM mode, and it has dominated my time with the series ever since. As someone who has been playing 2K for nearly half their life, it is crazy to see how far the series has come – both for better and for worse. The bottom line with 2K24 is that the on-court gameplay in the current-gen version is the best it’s ever been in the series, but there remains a lot of rinse-and-repeat across the board in terms of features, modes, monetization, and even bugs.
There is so much content in NBA 2K24 that I decided the best way to touch on everything is to take you on a guided tour of my experience with the game as I checked out its various modes. Naturally, my 2K24 journey began with MyTEAM, the card-collecting mode that lets you assemble a team of players across eras and teams to compete in several game modes. You start by choosing a starter kit for a team of your choosing which gives you a starting roster of players and everything else you need to get going. Of course, I chose the Jazz starter kit, which gave me several of the current players and an emerald Gordon Hayward to begin. One of the central mechanics of MyTEAM is a card’s gem color – the rarer or higher the color, the better the card. Gem colors start at gold (cards below an 80 overall rating) and rise to galaxy opal (cards rated a 99 overall). Cards can be acquired many ways, including as rewards for the various game modes within MyTEAM, through opening card packs, or buying them off the new Player Market – which has replaced the Auction House this year. This is a personal preference really, but after spending some time with the game I’ve come to miss the Auction House. Granted, for casual players it would become impossible to buy some of the best cards in the game, as they would often go for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of in-game currency known as MTP. This year, the Player Market means that every player card is available for purchase as soon as they are added. Each card is a fixed price and can be purchased with either MTP or VC – the other, purchasable in-game currency.
While MTP payouts have been drastically increased with 2K24, so too have card prices, meaning there is still a fair amount of grinding necessary to be able to afford the best cards on the market. For instance, I’ve got my eye on ruby John Stockton and Karl Malone, buying both of which would cost me 140,000 MTP or 100,000 VC. In other words, you’re either going to need to dedicate yourself to MyTEAM or open your wallet to buy some VC if you are someone who can’t live without the cards you want, when you want them. With that said, I’ve taken a “no money spent” approach for years now and still have tons of fun with the mode – there’s even a whole community of content creators who cater to those players.
There are several games modes within MyTEAM, including Domination, Triple Threat, Triple Threat Co-op, Challenges, Clutch Time, and the new Salary Cap. I’ve always enjoyed the Domination mode, which sees you challenging NBA teams across multiple eras with the team you have assembled. Salary Cap is a nice addition this year that forces players to use cards they might not normally use, and to think strategically by imposing a salary cap amount on your roster. Perhaps you want to use most of your salary on two or three amethyst cards, or spread your money around to have a balanced roster instead. One thing that has not changed is the frustrating online play. Despite upgrading my internet recently to one gigabyte fiber, with my PS5 plugged directly to my router, I still experienced just enough lag playing online that it makes it a frustrating experience. It’s been this way for years; with a typical Triple Threat Online game comprised of you and the other player taking turns doing dribble moves side to side until you can get a blow by for a dunk, layup, or kick out jump shot. I’d like to say there is some sort of technical limitations that are just insurmountable when playing a sports game online, but is it that much different than the split-second data transfers needed for something like Call of Duty or Battlefield? I digress.
MyTEAM has a nice tutorial that is completely optional if you are seasoned veteran, though, I chose to partake in the name of science, but also to grab the early game rewards by completing it. The game does a nice job of guiding you through the various features, modes, and intricacies of MyTEAM by giving you something to do for each, as well as a reward for doing so. It is well done, which I can’t say the same for the MyCAREER mode (more on that later), so kudos to the developers that worked on MyTEAM’s onboarding features.
From MyTEAM I moved on to the MyNBA mode, or what us long-time players will never stop calling “The Association”. The on-court gameplay shines the brightest in MyNBA, thanks to the new ProPLAY system, which somehow captures real NBA game footage and translates it to what you see on the court in 2K24. I admit to thinking ProPLAY was just another marketing buzzword we see from sports games, but the truth is that this is the best the gameplay has felt in the 15-plus years I’ve been playing the series. For years, we’ve suffered through what I’m going to call scripted or canned animations. When trying to attack the rim for a layup or dunk, it felt like you’d get sucked into a blocked shot animation just because the defender had particularly high attributes or badges, for example. In 2K24, the basketball feels more dynamic than ever, with players acting and reacting as close as ever to their real-life counterparts. LeBron James will take over the game for stretches, bullying his way to the rim for a layup or dunk, as he often does. It’s hard to describe in writing, but when LeBron scored on me four possessions in a row in the most LeBron way possible, for the first time ever, I felt like I was finally playing a “next-gen” basketball sim.
The new ProPLAY also appears to be getting an assist from improved AI, which seems smarter this year, and less artificial. Two moments while playing against the Los Angeles Clippers as my beloved Utah Jazz stuck out to me. After getting a mismatch on two consecutive possessions with Lauri Markkanen on Norman Powell, where I backed Powell down for an easy layup, the next time down the court the Clippers switched Kawhi Leonard onto Markkanen for defensive possessions only – bottling up my easy post backdowns. Near the end of the same game, I was up four points with 40-seconds left. Rather than automatically fouling me to send me to free throw line, the Clippers double-teamed me off a defensive switch during a pick-and-roll, which caught me by surprise, and allowed them to steal the ball from me for an easy bucket. It might not sound like much on paper, but it’s the little things that help create an immersive basketball simulation.
Not only do players move and act more like themselves in 2K24, but they also look as good as ever, including accurate facial scans, hairstyles, and even body types. Player bodies stood out to me this year (in a totally platonic way) for their accuracy. In game, LeBron is a big, hulking human being, while Jordan Clarkson is a scrawny, nimbler player, for example. If you put a photo of them up against an in-game screenshot, I think the resemblance would be uncanny.
On a more macro level, the MyNBA mode is largely the same as it was in 2K23 from a nuts-and-bolts standpoint. You’re still able to control one or multiple franchises from top to bottom, and can even choose what era of NBA teams you want to oversee – with the “Lebron Era” being added in this year. If you don’t care about dealing with hard salary caps, luxury taxes, and so on, you can choose the NBA Lite mode, which is a more pick-up-and-play option that simplifies those various systems. It’s up to you how deep you want to go; do you want restricted free agents? What about the play-in tournament? Want to make more money on tickets? It’s totally up to you in MyNBA mode. However, because the mode is largely unchanged from years past, so too are some of the bugs and quality-of-life inconveniences we have been dealing with for years, with a few new ones thrown in for good measure. One interesting one I’ve ran into with 2K24 is the inability to scout prospective players. I can add them to my draft board, look at them on the various draft rankings, but not actually scout them. Thinking I was surely missing a hidden milestone that allowed me to evaluate prospects, I simulated weeks ahead in my season, and even hired more scouts on my staff to no avail.
I then turned my attention to MyCAREER, a mode that I’ve never really dabbled in over the years. You begin by creating your player, dumping points into attributes as you see fit, or by using a template for a modern era star. The points you assign raise your potential max rating in each attribute category, which in turn determines your player archetype. After dumping a bunch of points into three-point shooting, driving layups, and perimeter defense, I created myself as a “shot creating three-level threat”. From there, the mode is divided into two main parts – your NBA career and The City. The career portion lets you practice and play NBA games with the team you choose to play for, focusing on key games along the way to keep you from having to play every single game in a season. The City is essentially a basketball MMORPG set in an open-world full of activities. There’s even a map menu and quest list full of main, side, and seasonal quests. Quests will require you to do things such as complete your next team practice session, or meet Jake from State Farm – yes, really. The City intrigued me a lot, but I found myself quickly overwhelmed with its plethora of menus, systems, and game modes. Some of which I generally understood from other modes, such as player badges, but MyCAREER dives much deeper into the mechanic with its character building, albeit without adequately explaining itself. I’m sure I could watch a few YouTube videos to understand what I’m doing, but should I really have to? Put simply, 2K24 assumes too much when it comes to MyCAREER, especially regarding newcomers to the mode.
Player progression is a real issue in the mode as well. My player began rated as a 60 overall, and progression feels heavily incentivized towards spending real money on VC in-game currency, as increasing your attribute ratings can only be done by spending VC. It can be earned by playing NBA career games and other activities, but I felt that if I didn’t buy VC with my own money, I would be grinding for a good while to get my player to a competent level. In fact, I tried to play games in a mode called Streetball and got quickly ran off the court by the AI. Granted, in my experience, most 2K players gravitate towards one primary game mode and stick with it, as is the case with me and MyTEAM, which is to say that some players may not mind the player progression grind at all. Still, it’s a shame that 2K24 forces you – to an extent – to choose a mode and stick with it, or risk being left behind by the core player base of each mode.
I rounded out my 2K24 experience with the new Mamba Moments mode, a tribute to cover star and the late Kobe Bryant (may he rest in peace). Like the Jordan Challenges from previous games, Mamba Moments puts you in the shoes of Kobe during some of his most iconic performances. There are seven moments spanning the legend’s career, including his 48-point, 16-rebound performance in game four of the 2001 Western Conference semifinals, and game seven from the 2010 NBA Finals. I enjoyed getting to experience these legendary moments in my favorite player’s career, and 2K really nailed Kobe’s likeness, from his looks to his play style to his mannerisms. His quick crossovers, change of pace, jump shot animations, and even gritting his teeth after a big play are all part of the experience. Another cool touch is that the commentary team, while still the same people from the base game, will chat about relevant storylines for the time. For instance, they were discussing if Chris Webber was going to re-sign with the Sacramento Kings after the 2001 season during the first Mamba Moment, which was up in the air during the summer of 2001, although Webber did eventually stick with the Kings. One odd thing about Mamba Moments, though, is that you are forced to complete them in a particular order – not the end of the world, to be sure, but I would have preferred the ability to pick and choose.
And that concludes our guided tour through NBA 2K24 – a basketball simulation loaded with content that could easily keep you busy from now until next season. As a longtime fan of the series, the current-gen version of the game delivers the best, most authentic on-court gameplay in the history of the franchise. The addition of ProPLAY technology and improved AI has given us the best video game re-creation of the modern NBA to date. If you’re returning to the series after a hiatus, you’re the most likely to notice significant improvements, but even as a veteran player I’m enjoying this year’s gameplay updates.
With that said, this is still an annualized sports game, meaning that portions of and even entire modes feel copy-and-pasted from last year. In typical NBA 2K fashion, it is hard not to feel like 2K24 wants you to reach for your wallet to buy in-game currency, especially in MyCAREER mode, which also feels poised to push newcomers away with its overwhelming number of moving parts and poor explanations, or total lack thereof.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Hello! I'm Jason, the newest member of Gaming Nexus. My favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports games, RPGs, and shooters, but I don't limit myself to those. My favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2 and I have somehow played it for nearly 1,000 hours. I also co-host a weekly PlayStation news podcast called The Dual Sense Podcast, so I stay pretty well versed in that ecosystem. Before that, I co-hosted a basketball podcast.View Profile