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“NBA 2K23” in the test



"NBA 2K23" in the test

NBA 2K23 is here. 2K’s basketball simulation is currently largely unmatched in the market. Even at the beginning of the current generation of consoles, one of the most beautiful titles was graphically evoked. The new game has also done well in videos so far. Unfortunately, this series is also known for its aggressive microtransactions and almost casino-worthy gameplay mechanics. Are the reviews overshadowing the new title or is it really worth going to court for sports game fans?

Well, I can only describe my assessment as absolutely divided: graphically “NBA 2K23” partly approaches photorealism and plays technically at the highest level. When my girlfriend watched me play from her office, she first assumed I was watching a basketball game on TV. The gameplay, very demanding and rewarding delicate tactics, is also worthy of the NBA. Unfortunately, NBA 2K23 stays true to the franchise’s reputation, cluttering MyCareer’s online mode with such microtransactions and pay-to-win mechanics that you shouldn’t even care unless you’re planning on doing it again. in multiples of the price of the game.

It’s a shame, because the presentation wasn’t just great on the pitch: the hub, The City, is impressive and serves as something of a decorated navigation center for you in career mode. But it’s just not fun and it’s also kind of silly when you’re constantly being played by small players in online mode with a big player just because the other person behind the controller has spent a lot of money to improve attributes.

Theoretically, it is also possible to earn the necessary in-game currency (VC). You can do this by playing through the single-player story mode. It’s staged as a sort of underdog story, where you don’t just have to win games, it’s about letting your player rise in favor of the fans. Still, I never really had enough VC to see a hit against other more generous players. There are reasons why I have spoken out clearly in the blog against microtransactions in games, which in the worst case can negatively impact gameplay. Unfortunately, NBA 2K23’s online mode remains the best negative example.

Fortunately, there are other game modes that are really fun. In addition to the mentioned single-player story mode, there is also the excellent “Jordan Challenges”. They revolve around important stages in the career of the famous basketball player. In doing so, you have to complete certain objectives as Michael Jordan in various games, which correspond to his real-life performance. This can be the achievement of a certain number of points, but also the achievement of a certain number of rebounds. Achieving these very specific goals in the hustle and bustle of the game is sometimes tricky, but always fair. That’s why challenges are a great way to invest your time in NBA 2K23 without thinking about VC.

The same goes for the MyNBA mode, where you can not only play with the current rosters, but also look back on the eras of Magic Johnson, Bird, Jordan and Kobe. For hardcore basketball fans, it is of course a nostalgic feast. The developers even create retro filters here, which ensure that the graphics are also visually adapted to the respective era or are reminiscent of TV shows of the time. However, you can also disable this option if you prefer the clean standard look.

However, if you’ve played “NBA 2K21” and “NBA 2K22” before, you shouldn’t expect any technical quantum leaps. The predecessors were already playing at such a high level, we speak rather of refinements, mainly in terms of animation and the diversity of the public. The AI ​​of your teammates and opponents has also been improved. Players no longer dance as weightless on the field as they did in previous games, everything feels a bit more powerful. The new adrenaline boosts, which you can only use three times per player in a game, also fit in there.

The WNBA is also involved, so you can also get started as a player. I tested “NBA 2K23” on the Xbox Series X, and the game really does something. The soundscape is also perfect – not only in the actual matches, but also in the menus that entertain you with licensed tracks. Everything is very stylish and brilliantly restores the basketball atmosphere. However, I would like to criticize the surprisingly long loading times, which you are hardly used to with the current generation of consoles.

For newcomers, there’s also quite a steep learning curve, as not only is the control quite complex, but the AI ​​is well equipped to make your life more complicated. I prefer not to start a second time with the online opponents mentioned at the beginning. One could add that you can not only improve your attributes through VC, but also buy cosmetic items – some clothes created in cooperation with real brands, for example. So 2K probably earns twice as much by integrating in-game partners in an ad-efficient way and paying them to wear their logos virtually.

A conclusion? “NBA 2K23” is almost unrivaled among sports games in terms of technology and atmosphere. And indeed, there are plenty of onboard modes that are fun even without the microtransactions – like Jordan Challenges. But online gambling is hopelessly unbalanced and I cannot in good conscience support the blatant pay-to-win mechanics. In the end, what’s left is a basketball sim with great tech, great gameplay, and plenty of reach, which is unfortunately overshadowed by some greedy aspects.

If you don’t care about online functions, you can have fun here alone or with friends.

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