It’s now been around a month since the September 8th release of NBA 2K23. That has given me plenty of time to explore this year’s feature-packed edition of NBA 2K. Overall, NBA 2K23 is an incredible addition to the 2K line-up, and arguably the best in recent years. It boasts incredible realism and attention to detail, and plays like a dream. That said, it has one major drawback that weighs it down. In my NBA 2K23 review, I take a look at the good and the bad.
One of the areas where NBA 2K23 shines is on the court. Gameplay has taken some huge strides forward this year. As has been the cast for the past few years, there has been a focus on balancing defense. But this year, the game succeeded—and better yet, a month after release, defense is still balanced. It is a relief not to see any unwelcome patches “fixing” what isn’t broken this time around. Defensive AI is also much improved, especially with respect to preventing fast breaks.
This year, we have also seen more emphasis placed on improving offense than in recent editions. Shooting is more satisfying, and there is a brand new Jump Shot Creator system. Dunking the rim is also more fun than ever with the introduction of moves like switchbacks and double throws.
It isn’t just the new moves or the improved balancing that will stand out to you when you are playing NBA 2K23, though. There is a gestalt effect from all of the little improvements. Added together, they make the game play in a manner that is more lifelike and realistic. Even the pacing and spacing feel better.
Modes and Features
NBA 2K23 has brought a lot of great features, including an impressively detailed MyPlayer Builder (you can expect to put in a lot of time perfecting your build if like me, you appreciate customization), the introduction of MyNBA Eras, and of course the highly-anticipated return of The Jordan Challenge, last seen in NBA 2K11. Indeed, those looking for a trip down nostalgia lane will not be able to get enough of these features.
2K promised to take us back in time with The Jordan Challenge, and they delivered. You will be astonished by how the smallest details bring past eras to life. The historical accuracy will blow your mind if you experienced Jordan’s career yourself. This mode is an outstanding primer for anyone who wants to increase or refresh their knowledge of basketball history.
Something else we have seen take a big step up in NBA 2K23 is the badge system. There are more constraints than there used to be, but this is a good thing. Players now have to stack badges in a more strategic and nuanced way. So, this is another area where we are seeing more balance than in past 2K games.
One Major Drawback: Microtransactions
Now that I’ve talked about what I love about NBA 2K23, I want to take a moment to mention what I don’t, and that is the same thing you are going to see just about everyone else complaining about: the microtransactions.
In NBA 2K23, microtransactions are a blight. I was lucky enough that my copy of the game came with 100,000 VC. You would think that would go pretty far, right? Well, it didn’t go as far as I hoped. I burned through my VC in no time, and realized I was nowhere near being in a position to be competitive. That left me needing to shell out cash for more VC. Every year, this process gets more expensive, and this year it left me with an especially sour taste in my mouth.
What if you can’t afford microtransactions, or don’t want to participate in them? Theoretically, you could just grind until you have leveled sufficiently, but it will take you months and eat up a lot of time you would rather spend doing other things in the game. So, it is not really a realistic option. The result is that a lot of players are just going to end up being left out.
Final Verdict: A Thrillingly Realistic Basketball Sim Experience
It is hard not to go on about the disappointing microtransactions in NBA 2K23 for the simple reason that they are such a pervasive problem in video games right now. But in the grand scheme of things, this is just one complaint about a game which otherwise knocked my socks off.
If you are a fan of the NBA 2K series, you are not going to want to miss out on NBA 2K23. It is arguably not just the most realistic 2K game, but the most realistic basketball game by any publisher to date. Add to that The Jordan Challenge and the other impressive additions to this year’s game, and you can look forward to countless hours of immersive basketball fun. For more updates about NBA 2K23, check our NBA 2K news section.