Review: NBA 2K23 (PS5) - Even microtransactions can't ruin the game-changing franchise mode

Review: NBA 2K23 (PS5) – Even microtransactions can’t ruin the game-changing franchise mode

NBA 2K23 is absolutely huge. Listen, we know this isn’t necessarily what you expected to read: you thought we were going to tell you this is another cut-and-paste basketball sim from 2K Sports – but it’s so much more. than a list exchange. The game has age-old issues when it comes to closed progression and microtransactions, but you can comfortably spend 500 hours in this build and still find plenty to do. It’s just this big!

Where to start, then? Well, on the ground seems like as good a place as any. Arguably the biggest adjustment this year is the addition of adrenaline rushes below the stamina bar. While there’s a fair amount of complexity here, these mostly reflect intense action, like jumping for rebounds or advanced dribbling moves. The idea is that you only get three per possession, meaning you can’t spam your opponent into submission. It balances the game.

While we think the system is a smart addition overall, we’d say maybe it’s too balance. It doesn’t really make sense for league superstars to be shut down in exactly the same way as a group of lowly bench players, but we guess gameplay fairness trumps authenticity, and the top players always obviously have huge advantages in terms of attributes. Maybe there’s more tuning than 2K Sports might consider for next year, but the overall concept is solid.

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Along with adrenaline rushes, the developer has also been busy adding an absolute wealth of animations. There’s so much here that we’d run our entire word count listing them all, but the things to watch out for are the new contact dunks and more creative layups. You can also hold on to the rim if you want, and you can even swing your body to flex on your posterized opponents! There’s an obvious learning curve for many of these moves, but that ultimately means you have a lot to dig into.

Speaking of which, we also dig into some of the overall AI tweaks. The teams are much more dynamic overall and will adapt to what is happening on the pitch; they will overtake players who are giving them a hard time or change their approach entirely if they continue the match. All of this creates a more authentic experience that forces you to be more mindful of your own playstyle: how are you going to win the game?

This kind of variety also applies to the extraordinary industry-leading Franchise mode, named MyNBA Eras. While you can always take control of a current team and lead them to the promised land, you also have the option of starting your game based on three famous periods in NBA history: the Magic era vs. Bird, the Jordan era and the Kobe era. In effect, it’s like going back in time, recreating the NBA as it existed in that specific time period.

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So rather than picking a team and creating your own unique future, you can change the past instead. And it gets wildly in-depth: you can choose to veto certain significant moments that have happened in NBA history, such as rule changes or moves. This means you’re effectively able to play God league-wide, reshaping his story to suit your personal tastes. What was already the best Franchise mode on the market has been taken to an unprecedented level.

And that’s without even taking into account the different facets that make this mode unique: teams will play differently in the 1980s than in the 2000s, with totally different playbooks and strategies. Additionally, 2K Sports has created unique visual filters to reflect each era, with period-appropriate replay packages and overlays. While you can disable some of them if you wish, this is exceptionally new and reflects the care and attention invested in the package as a whole.

All of these features also apply to the Jordan Challenge, a single-player mode based on a similar mode in NBA 2K11 that highlights 15 of the Chicago Bulls fullback’s most memorable moments. These all have unique commentary and interview footage, as well as some pretty grueling competitive conditions that will really help you appreciate His Airness’ most impressive NBA exploits. Completing this mode at 100% will probably make you spend a good ten hours alone.

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And we’ve come this far without even mentioning MyCareer or the City, the flagship sandbox mode that lets you create your own MyPlayer Version and pilot them to NBA stardom. So, the bad first: overreliance on virtual currency remains, and it’s always an outrageous chore to put together a competent competitor. You can’t exactly pay to win, because you have to play and play to unlock Badges and improve your max rating, but upgrades become too expensive, you will have to pay real money.

The storyline feels like a step backwards in many ways this year, though we appreciate 2K Sports’ attempts to streamline some aspects – even shrinking the overall size of the online open world to cut down on unnecessary walk times. In short, since he won’t win any prizes, you’ll be up against an incredibly irritating rival named Shep Owens, who for some reason is the favorite in town and you have to prove the fans wrong.

You will do this by playing basketball games and conquering different neighborhoods. This is where the campaign explores its fashion, business and music aspects, featuring J. Cole and various other household names. The biggest problem is that sometimes you just want to play basketball, and while we appreciate the overall ambition, handing out flyers to the owner of a vegan hot dog stand just isn’t much fun. And yeah, that’s something that happens pretty early in the plot – we told you this game was ridiculously massive, right?

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The city’s other big draw is to compete with friends and strangers, and while additions like the theater make it a bit easier to match-up rather than wait for the courts to empty, it just doesn’t seem as fast and accessible as it should be. Additionally, the netcode makes gameplay much more floaty and less responsive overall – we’re far from pro gamers, but things just feel snappier to us in single player.

On that note, there’s actually a lot more single-player content to explore in the MyTeam-esque Ultimate Team mode this year, with the addition of high-octane clutch time. Other than that, the mode is largely unchanged from last year, but the removal of Contracts and the introduction of co-op are welcome, and we still think this is one the most generous team-building modes, alongside MLB The Show 22. Sure, you might have to shell out real money on hilarious card packs to compete on the pro level, but realistically, if you just want to put together a reasonable list for fun, Locker codes and the standard seasonal progression will provide you with what you need.


It can be easy to accuse sports games of delivering the same experience year after year, but you simply can’t say the same about NBA 2K23. The game still has issues with its overemphasis on microtransactions in MyCareer and to a lesser extent MyTeam, but the new MyNBA Eras mode is a revelation – and the Jordan Challenge campaign is a lot of fun, too. On the pitch, 2K Sports has made some nice balancing changes and also improved the overall AI to make matches more dynamic and competitive, and when you combine all of that with all the new animations, you end up with a simulation of basketball which is the very definition. of a slam dunk.

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