NBA 2K21 will release its next-generation version, with Zion Williamson on the cover, on November 10 when the Xbox Series X/S releases — with the PS5 coming two days later. The first next-gen trailer arrived last week, showing off the tremendous graphics improvements that are possible on the next-gen consoles as they are able to process so much more.
Looking good is one thing, but it doesn’t matter how much each player looks like their real self if the gameplay doesn’t matchup. That is a constant frustration of gamers with sports games, is that there’s too much emphasis placed on realism in appearance but not realism in gameplay and tendencies. On Wednesday, the second Courtside Report from the NBA 2K crew offered a look at some of the gameplay updates coming on the next-gen edition, most notably with how player-to-player contact will improve to be more realistic.
It’s something that is incredibly difficult to translate to the video game space, but it seems the next-gen consoles allow for even better and more realistic contact and reaction to contact in all phases. The first is in on-ball contact, as ball-handlers get bodied by defenders and have to carve their way through that contact to get to the rim, as now running right at a defender will lead to charges and force pickups, while taking the right angles will be rewarded.
At the rim, there is likewise an update in the form of players having to go around defenders and body-to-body contact having a more realistic impact on their ability to go up at the rim.
It certainly looks improved, with players not bouncing off of each other and defenders able to stay locked onto an offensive player and bump them in a much more natural way that impacts their dribbling and shot selection. There’s also updates to off-ball contact, most notably in screens as players will no longer be sucked into screens and contact will be determined by where the screener sets it — and who that screener is — allowing players to go under and over screens with partial contact in a much more realistic way.
There’s also updated dribble control, which they say is rebuilt from the ground up, to get rid of the accidental moments where your player turns the wrong way and allowing you to go where you’re trying in a much easier manner rather than fighting with the dribble system on how you want your guy to move. It all certainly looks nice in these videos and is a truly gorgeous presentation of a basketball game, but until we get it in our hands we won’t be sure exactly how well all of these updates work to improve the gameplay.