Coming into NBA2K16 I had HUGE expectations for the MyPlayer mode. 2K released a series of promising commercials hyping up 2K16’s MyPlayer feature, in one of those commercials Spike Lee asks, “What will your story be?” I was beyond excited at the implication that we’d be able to have unique/different MyPlayer storylines, little did I know Spike was asking a rhetorical question, since he already knew exactly what our stories would be, because they’re all the same.
If you’re reading this then you’ve probably already played MyPlayer in 2K16 so I won’t go into it that much, however I’d like to quickly highlight a few disappointments it caused me. First off, your player is only afforded a handful of actual decisions, those being the name of your high school, what college you want to go to, and what NBA teams you are interested in and who you want to sign with (of those that gave you an offer). Meanwhile Spike Lee took it upon himself to make a number of crucial decisions for you. You have no say in what company you keep and who your friends are, your voice, your name, your background, when you want to go pro, how you handles disputes with your GM and more. The decision-making in 2K16 is like being told you’re going to an all-you-can-eat buffet but instead you get dropped off at Subway; you still have choices but it’s a major letdown and not at all what you were expecting.
To add insult to injury, your MyPlayer is forced to have quite possibly the most idiotic given name of all-time: Frequency Vibrations. In September I tweeted that Frequency Vibrations sounds like a vibrator company made a rap album. I understand that most times in reality you don’t get to choose your nickname, but come on, you can do better than that, 2K.
Any true RPG (Role Playing Game) includes choices that alter the path that your character will follow. I know NBA2K is primarily a sports game, but I believe they would greatly benefit from adding more RPG-like elements to the MyPlayer mode. I’ve already griped about how few choices 2K16 allows, now I’d like to present some solutions, the first being your player’s upbringing.
Your upbringing (where/how you were raised) can be one of the most important things about you, often times it’s a good indicator of why you are the way you are. I would like 2K17 to let you choose where you were raised, giving three choices: inner city, suburbs and rural.
Your choice of where you were brought up will affect what kind of high school gyms you play in, your friends, family and more. Most of you can instantly imagine how different your storyline can be depending on whether you’re from the city or the country. Allowing for this kind of variety enables you to choose whichever path you identify with the most. As a predominantly-rural-raised Irish-American I couldn’t relate to Frequency Vibrations in many ways, that caused me to become frustrated with the storyline and distance myself from it. I know some people aren’t interested in relating their MyPlayer to themselves and that’s absolutely fine, but I believe you should have the option to choose either way.
Closely connected to your upbringing is your ethnicity. It’s another unique, unchangeable thing about us that can affect our daily lives. With respect to the many ethnic backgrounds in existence I believe 2K should start with four ethnic background choices: African-American, Caucasian, Asian and Hispanic. Giving us ethnic choices avoids confusing storyline blunders like in 2K16 where you could create an Asian character that somehow has a fully African-American twin sister and parents. I’m going to say this frequently: the details are important; many gamers care about that stuff.
Another staple of individuality is your voice. For 3+ years now 2K users have begged for more voice options only to be ignored. Your MyPlayer’s voice can be the difference between engaging dialogue or a hokey mismatch that causes you to roll your eyes. I remember playing a UFC game 4 years ago that had 4+ voice options–why is 2K so far behind on this???
I’ve clipped together some examples of the kind of voice-option-variety that I’d like to see. Which voice would you be?
I’m sure it’s a tall task recording all that audio with different voices, but 2K really has no excuse for not getting this done, especially since people (myself included) have offered their volunteer services to add voice variety.
One thing I love about NBA2K16 is the addition of high school and college basketball. Your player has a much deeper storyline when you go all the way back to high school, so I love that. However, I believe 2K can build on those options. Much like NCAA Football 14, NBA2K17 should allow you to create your high school name and location, even design the jerseys and upload the logo. This would allow gamers to play for their actual high school, which would be way cooler than playing for the “Dragons”. You should start in your state’s high school state tournament, and you should be allowed the option to name the other teams in the bracket so you can play real-life rivalries. From there you get recruited by colleges based on your high school performance like in 2K16.
In 2K17 I’d also like an alternative option where you come in from overseas rather than high school/college. If you choose that path then you’ll start out in the Euro League Tournament. You can choose what team you want to play for and your draft stock will depend on how you perform in the tournament. This gives a more realistic option for those that want to create a foreign MyPlayer in 2K17.
In the past 2K has allowed you to give create players a personality (laid back, competitive, etc), but they didn’t really do much with it. Now you can earn personality badges like Alpha Dog, Beta Dog, Low Ego, etc. Honestly the personality badges do very little towards actually giving your player personality, especially since you can earn contradicting badges (like both Alpha Dog and Low Ego, how can you be both???). 2K17 should allow you to select from a wide-variety of personalities, each one having a different affect on your MyPlayer’s actions. For instance, they can have a personality type called crazy passionate, if you select that for your MyPlayer he’ll have a Dennis Rodman/Kevin Garnett-type personality. Your personality should be able to give you minor boosts in certain areas, it should also affect how you treat the people around you in your MyPlayer storyline. Another example would be a player that’s confident or has a lot of starpower, like James Harden. He would get a boost in Ref Sway (star treatment is well-known in the NBA) and media relations (James is a marketable figure, as opposed to someone with less “personality” like Tim Duncan). See the image below for some of my ideas for personalities and the positives/negatives of each one.
I eluded to this a little in the image above but I think 2K17 should introduce referee interaction. During a game, if your MyPlayer is within a certain distance of a referee there should be D-Pad combinations that allow you to interact with the referee. It can be something as minor as an off-hand comment about the calls in general (“sure blowing that whistle a lot tonight”), something specific (“you KNOW that was all ball, right?”) or even as far as getting in his/her face. Your player’s personality/star power will determine how much you can get away with, also different referees will give you more or less slack, so (like in real life) how they react to you can be somewhat unpredictable. You can choose to note use this feature and play on like usual, but you could be missing out on some opportunities to get some more calls throughout the game, and you have to admit that it would be satisfying to get ejected every now and then!
Social Standing vs. Extra Work
Real NBA players have some serious decisions to make when it comes to how they spend their time. This was introduced in 2K16 where you can choose to spend time with certain connections or go to practice. I really like that addition but I’d also like them to build on that. They should keep the connections vs. practice option, only I’d like them to add the option of putting in extra work at practice or doing something social. The extra work can go towards anything you choose to work on. Terrible at free throw shooting (I’m looking at you Dwight Howard)? Put in some extra work at the free throw line to get better there. Already a great shooter but you want to get to the next level (a la Steph Curry)? Stay late and put up more shots! Alternatively, if you want to increase your social standing you can do commercials, go out on the town and do other James Harden-like things to build your popularity. The higher the popularity the more opportunities you have for endorsements (especially lucrative endorsements). Speaking of endorsements, in 2K17 they need to be worth it. Nobody is interested in wasting 3 off-days for 500 VC. It should be something like 6 off-days for 30k VC, more or less depending on your popularity.
Overall NBA2K16 is a solid game, however I was disappointed by the MyPlayer mode. As they work on NBA2K17 it’s my hope that they will take some of my ideas into consideration and go on to produce the best RPG experience in sports video game history!