I tend to try to give sports games some time to marinate before I post my review. So much can happen with sports franchises in their first week or two post-launch that it’s often helpful as a reviewer to see where things fall. Never has this been truer than with NBA 2K20 which has had a rougher than normal launch. A lot has been made about the game’s bugs, microtransactions, modes, and load times, and there has been a very large social movement on Twitter with the hashtag #FIX2K20. With that, I’m here to discuss my time with NBA 2K20 specifically running on an Xbox One X which a day before I wrote this review got a 30gb+ patch.
Let’s start with what is obvious at this point. NBA 2K20 continues to feature a genre-leading presentation. Nothing else in the field doesn’t come even close. From the pre-game to the commentary and on-court visuals to post-game, NBA 2K20 is insanely far ahead. Commentary continues to be phenomenal with great pre-game, post-game, and in-game talk. The amount of content there is staggering. I’ve easily put 30+ hours in and only rarely have I heard any repeated lines. The presentation on the court shines bright as well. I did encounter a couple of minor glitches, but otherwise, there’s an immense level of polish. Player models continue to be as close to life-like as the current hardware has seen and this year’s game has seen a big improvement in animations both with and without the ball. The top-notch presentation is a huge strength for the franchise and NBA 2K20 is no different.
My main draw to the franchise has been the MyCareer mode which has had its ups and downs in the past. In short, you will take a player (this year’s name is Chey) through to the NBA and play through his career. The mode opens up with you as a college senior and your character chooses to sit out his final game due to a teammate losing a scholarship from an on-court injury. The prelude to you getting to the NBA is insanely well done with serious actors, like Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, joining the cast. It’s too bad that their performances, albeit great, were short-lived. Once you make it to the NBA, the mode defaults back to a very familiar setup we have seen in previous years but with more cutscenes and options. Your player starts at an overall rating of 60 and you will grind out VC (virtual currency) with each game and practice. The career mode has been and continues to be one that incentives you to spend money on VC to quickly upgrade your player. If you don’t, you will have to go through seasons of games to earn up the necessary VC to be a top player in the NBA.
Anecdotally, it looks like many players have decided to forgo the grind and instead opting for the more expensive versions of NBA 2K20 because MyNeighborhood is filled with players that a few games after the launch are already at 80+ overall. MyNeighborhood is where you can instance with other plays on a relatively small open world, go buy clothes, get a haircut, or play pick-up hoops. Sadly, there still isn’t any matchmaking in the mode so you tend to either play with players who vastly outrank you or just wait around for 5-15 minutes until you can finally get a pick-up game to begin. When they do happen (which is rare), the half-court games pick-up games are actually a ton of fun. Still, the odds of you getting into a game with similarly ranked players is just too hard to want to even deal with. Had I not been reviewing the game, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered.
The other mode I tend to spend a lot of time with is the MyLeague, the game’s franchise feature. It’s almost (and might be) identical to what we saw in last years’ games which means it’s insanely deep with more content than any other sports game out there. It can be overwhelming at times but it continues to do a good job with menus and streamlining so you can make it as deep as you want it to be. One other new addition this year is the WNBA. It’s not as feature-filled but you can either play using them in both a season or play now experience. I played a few games in the WNBA mode and am really impressed with the amount of love and care that was brought to bring women into the game. It’s a great move and one that I really enjoyed having.
At the end of the day for me, someone who plays MyCareer and MyLeague, NBA 2K20 is still the best sports game out today. It looks beautiful, plays like butter, and is still one of the most enjoyable games I play each year. The game does have its issues, but as of writing, a lot of the glitches I saw seem to have been addressed. My biggest gripe (and I know I’m not alone) is the amount of emphasis placed on VC each year, and how it feels even more off-putting this year. It takes away from what is such a beautiful and well-crafted game. But if you’re like me and don’t play the card game and don’t mind the grind, NBA 2K20 is still the best sports game on the market.
I'm the Owner & Editor in Chief of Darkstation.com. After spending seven years as the reviews editor I took over the site in 2010. The rest is history. Now I work with our amazing staff to bring you the best possible video game coverage. Oh and I really like sports games.