The next generation of NBA 2K21 is here, but is it worth the upgrade?

Now that NBA 2K21 has been live for a while, let’s take a hard look at what Take-Two has to offer for next-gen players.

Image via Take-Two

The next generation of sports games is here, and this new era kicked off on November 10 with the launch of NBA 2K21 for the Xbox Series X. NBA 2K21, which is now live worldwide after three separate launch dates throughout the month of November, made waves in July after Take-Two not only announced it was a separate game from its current-gen counterpart, but also a new, more expensive price of $70. The news of a $70 NBA 2K game was quite the talking point for a variety of reasons, but Take-Two justified the increase by stating that the capabilities of the next-generation, coupled with new gameplay additions, would make up for the increase in price.

Now that the game has fully launched worldwide and users have had the chance to delve into the inaugural edition of the game for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, is it worth it? 

A comparison between next-gen and old-gen NBA 2K21

Image via Take-Two

The next-generation of NBA 2K brings some interesting changes to the formula that Take-Two has utilized for years. One of the more noticeable changes comes through the new graphics models. Players look a bit more realistic, especially those who have had updated scans, and even the little details, such as sweat, show up in a way that makes you feel like you are actually watching a real-life NBA game. 

Are the new graphics perfect? No. The outer aesthetics, such as the fans in the stands and the stadium models, don’t look noticeably different. But aside from that, this change should be welcome for those who have wanted a more next-gen feel.

As far as game modes go, there are some differences, but also some glaring similarities. Among those similarities include MyTeam, which mirrors what old-gen players have and currently experience on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This was to be expected, given that MyTeam progress on the old-gen can be transferred over to the Series X and PS5, but it’s important to note this for those wondering about NBA 2K’s signature CCG mode on the next-gen.

And then there’s MyCareer, which has almost the exact same story. MyPlayer avatars are thrust into the same plotline as before, so if you’re looking to jump into MyCareer, I hope you liked playing with Newark East and competing against Hendrixx Cobb a few months ago. But while the story does stay the same, you do have a bit more flexibility as far as your pre-NBA career is concerned. Rather than just playing a handful of games before heading to the NBA Draft, MyPlayers can either decide to go through college or compete in the G-League. There are hidden benefits behind choosing either one: going through the G-League gives you more VC and boosts your Draft profile, while college can boost your overall profile and popularity, which can be helpful when it comes to landing endorsements.

But while there are some differences between the old MyCareer and the new one, I’d say the differences are negligible at best. 

So… what are the differences?

While MyCareer doesn’t break the mold, a slew of new Badges and Takeovers does freshen up the MyPlayer meta by removing some of the more toxic builds. But that’s not the only major MyPlayer change, as 2K21 users have now been introduced to The City, a re-imagined look into The Neighborhood. The City features new aesthetics, Rookieville (the prelude to The City), and the return of Affiliations, a nod to the old days of NBA 2K. 

Additionally, NBA 2K21 features The W, in which users can launch a WNBA MyPlayer career mode or, like in prior years, take control of a team in the NBA’s sister league. While The W is not as extensive and detailed as compared to MyNBA or MyPlayer, it does offer something to those who wanted more features for the WNBA content.

Jump ball for Take-Two?

Take-Two was not in a great place with the NBA 2K franchise prior to November’s launch of the next-gen version of 2K21. Riddled with stagnant graphics and gameplay modes, repetitive MyPlayer meta builds, and an odd rollout of the new Pro Stick, the franchise’s now–gen game didn’t break the mold, to say the least. While this game doesn’t either, it does present a step in the right direction. The new graphics add something much-needed to the game’s presentation, and it seems that Take-Two has done right with the increased capabilities of the next-generation hardware in this regard.

As far as game modes are concerned, once again, Take-Two doesn’t break the mold. 2K’s signature MyCareer and MyPlayer modes aren’t exactly fresh, but the return of Affiliations and the change of the metagame are, at least, indications that Take-Two is taking this new generation of gaming seriously. 

But back to that all-important question: should you get this game? I do believe this game is fun and better, based upon both the changes to the modes, as well as the gameplay tweaks. However, the $70 price tag is still a tough pill to swallow, despite the positive adjustments. A $60 tag for this title would make a lot of sense, but the extra $10 might not be worth it this time around, especially if you have already bought the game for either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

If you do, however, want to jump into the action, perhaps getting the Mamba Forever Edition would be a better idea. Not only do you get the game, but a slew of VC and MyTeam items come along with it. And, you’ll gain access to the old-gen version, provided you buy the Mamba Forever Edition for the Xbox One and PS4.