2K Sports released the first gameplay trailer for NBA 2K20 last week, and it gave us a small glimpse of some of the new features coming to the game. Now, we finally got our first official information on how Visual Concepts plans to evolve the experience via a in-depth blog post that explains their intentions. Here are several of our biggest takeaways.
2K Still Aims for More Responsiveness
A new motion engine was introduced back in NBA 2K18. It was mainly intended to honor stick skills and responsiveness over animation-driven gameplay. NBA 2K20 stays true on the engine, with slight changes meant to make the world-class athletes as nimble and as agile as their real-world counterparts.
Gameplay Director Mike Wang says, "Some of the advances that you’ll immediately see and feel when you pick up NBA 2K20 are better foot planting, momentum modeling, and motion style variation, Players have a much better sense of weight and plant their feet properly when cutting or exploding from a stand. And thanks to the addition of motion styles, you’ll quickly feel the difference between a lumbering big vs. a quick, explosive guard."
Visual Concepts also spent more time researching how NBA players sprints, to accurately recreate their burst, which will lead to a larger change around how sprinting affects stamina. "This year, you’ll notice a flashing yellow effect around the stamina bar when your energy level drops below a certain threshold," Wang stated. "Once hit, you’ll quickly ramp down to a run speed and get tired much faster. So it’s important this year to pick and choose when you want to explode with your first step and not abuse the Sprint trigger all game long. "
Stronger On-Ball Defense
NBA 2K20 adds some new tools that Visual Concepts call "Read and React Defense."
You will see a new icon under the ball handler that indicates whether they are vulnerable to steals. If it show a solid circle, it's a bad time to attempt to pick their pockets. However, if the icon shows broken up lines, you will have a much higher likelihood of coming away with the ball when attempting a steal. Wang hopes this makes on-ball defense more predictable and encourage players to pick their spots rather than just spamming the steal button.
"When guarding the ball, defensive players will see a small arrow under the ball handler, indicating where they’re leaning or attempting to go," Wang says. "The arrow shows up at different times based on the defender’s abilities, modeling the different reaction times between a poor defender and a great one. Anticipating the ball handler’s movement properly and cutting off their attack will yield much more predictable outcomes such as stonewalling the dribbler, forcing a pickup, or causing a fumble."
Ball Handlers Now Have Signature Dribbling Styles
Compared to last year, Visual Concepts has added 27 different dribbling styles, which will affect how a player handles the ball. In NBA 2K20, you will be able to differentiate passers dribblers like De-Aaron Fox from players like DeMar DeRozan who operate with more wiggle. Using these new controls, you can change up your dribbling rythm and pace just by moving the left analog stick.
Here's the list of Signature Dribbling Styles, which you can also use in MyCareer: Base, Big, Power, Fundamental, Shifty Quick, Slasher, James Harden, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kawhi Leonard Jerry West, Dennis Johnson, John Stockton, Paul George, Tim Hardaway, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Isiah Thomas, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James. Kemba Walker, and Stephen Curry.
Other changes in the dribbling include a new size-up mechanic that lets you chain standing dribble moves by flicking the right analog stick, expanded triple threat offense options, and new advanced moves like behind back wrap escapes, Luka Doncic’s fake stepback, stutter chop steps, new shammgods, and the fake sham hesi that Will Bynum pulled out at the Big Three.
Lay-ups Have Been Reworked to Give Players More Control
"The new gather feature allows you to kick off an advanced gather on the floor, read the defense, and select how you want to finish that gather by re-deflecting the Pro Stick as you takeoff," Wang says. "For example, if you started a euro gather but saw the defense close in, you could re-deflect the Pro Stick down to branch to a floater finish to avoid contact. This also allowed us to introduce the concept of gather resolutions. Forcing a gather into heavy traffic or directly into a defender will lead to jam ups, but choosing the correct gathers in open spaces will let you knife right through traffic."
Conversely, patrolling the paint gets bolstered in NBA 2K20 thanks to hundreds of new in-air collision animations,grab fouls, hard fouls, and swats. Post defenders will also have an expanded post body-up system that Wang says should help them counteract spins, dropsteps, drives and hopsteps.
Off-Ball Juke Returns
NBA 2K20 users can play their defenders by using the Pro Stick to access fake first steps, and stutters that can be chained together.
Defenders can counter these with more off-ball collissions. If you anticipate their move, you can cut it off.
The big change to off-ball movement is a reworked screen system that should allow help defenders better navigate around screeners and now get sucked into animations.
A More Intelligent A.I.
For some people who prefer to rely on ball movement and isolation, NBA 2K20's A.I. will be getting a boost thanks to the new dynamic freelance engine, which governs A.I. teammates to make more intelligent decisions off the ball. The new system will center around your best players, so it should generate looks you will be compelled to consider, particularly around off-ball screens and cuts that free you star players for open looks.
If you prefer controlling the strategy yourself, NBA 2K20 introduces new play action buttonss that guickly activate situations. Users can save up to eight favorite quick plays for easy access.
Those who primarily play offline should notice a much different feel to the way the opponents shoot this year. "In past 2K’s, the A.I. has always used Real Player Percentage when it came down to determining makes and misses," Wang says. "This could often lead to robotic, predictable outcomes. This year, we’ve implemented the same shot timing mechanics for the A.I. that players use. The result is a much more human-like opponent and a more even playing field."
Badge & Takeover System has been Reworked
Visual Concepts revamped the entire badge system this year.
"We know how important they are to the game and to the community, so one of the first things we did this dev cycle was sit down (in many meetings) to re-imagine what badges we should have in the game and how they should work," Wang says. "We came away with an impressive list of around 80 badges that allow players to express different strengths in various areas of the game. We put in a ton of work to ensure that each badge was valuable and unique enough to cater to just about any imaginable playstyle. We even added Neighborhood-specific badges that enhance the physicality and flashy play of the Playground."
Takeover returns in NBA 2K20 as well, but Wang says it should feel much more balanced across the board, no matter your position or play style.
NBA 2K20 will be available on PS4, Xbox One, Pc and Switch on September 6, 2019. The Demo is playable starting August 21 on all platforms except for PC.