Looking at the NBA 2K18 Prelude

NBA 2K18

NBA 2K has not only become one of the top sports games in recent years, but the most popular game series.

On September 8th, NBA 2K release the 2K18 “Prelude” free for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users.

Last year was the first time the series introduced the Prelude in 2K17, where you can create your MyPlayer and have him sign with a college team and play a few games. When 2K17 came out, you were able to transfer over your creation from the prelude and go straight to the draft.

In last years debut prelude, you were able to select your college and play in a few games while learning what the story mode is all about for MyCareer.

This year, however, the 2K team decided to try something different in the prelude and I was able to give it a try. Here are my thoughts about the game.

Fair warning for those who have not played, there will be some spoilers.

The storyline for this year’s MyCareer

2K in recent years has had some interesting storylines once the game moved to the next generation consoles. In 2K14, you competed against fellow fictional rookie Jackson Ellis. In 2K15, you were an undrafted free agent trying to make a name for yourself.

A still shot from Spike Lee’s “Livin da Dream” story mode in 2K16.

In 2K16, Spike Lee created the “Livin’ Da Dream” story, where the player, referred to as “Frequency Vibrations”,  was an up-and-coming basketball prospect. The story started with the player in high-school, but the player eventually enters college and then the NBA. In 2K17, you were known as “The President of Basketball”, a top high school prospect, making his way to the NBA.

In 2K18, you are known as “DJ”, a former high school prospect who left the game to pursue a career in music. I have always been iffy with the way 2K has made their stories since 2K16, but besides fellow characters calling me DJ, it seems that they won’t be focusing on the background of your guy as much as they did in past games.

Character Creation

Before you start the game, you create your MyPlayer. This is where you put your actual name as well as editing your player’s hair and facial features. You are also able to scan your actual face in the game, using the MyNBA2K app. An interesting thing also is that you are able to pick a team before you start anything. I assumed this was like any other sports game asking your favorite team, so I went with the New York Knicks. Once that is done you start the Prelude, where you see you created guy walk around in 2K’s new “open world.”

You then end up at the “Proving Ground” where you register for a street ball tournament. From there you can edit what type of ball player you want to be. This year you are able to not only add a primary archetype for your guy but a secondary archetype. I continued my trend and made my guy a 6’9″ (in honor of my favorite player Ben Wallace) center with rebounding and defensive archetypes. After you choose those you then edit your height, weight, wingspan and number.

‘Proving Ground’

The Proving Ground street ball tournament.

Once your player is created you meet with another fictional player that makes a reference to you being “DJ.” Once the conversation is over you can head over to an open court to pick your jump shot. It is was interesting to see that you only had few options to pick. Examples of jump shots you can use are Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Zach Randolph and even Lonzo Ball.

After picking the jump shot you play in two 3 on 3 matches with other random players. Once those games are done you meet with a potential agent that gives you card (more on that later). The final game you play is a traditional 5 on 5 game with the top players from the pervious proving ground games.

The path to the NBA…sort of

Once those games are done you meet with a scout of the team you picked from the beginning, with my case being the Knicks. They offer you to come to their next practice for a tryout if you can find an agent. You go back to your house where your friend is waiting for you and you contact the agent you met with earlier to see if he will represent you. He agrees to have you as a client and you go to your respective team’s tryout. From there you play two games; one against the backups and the second game against the starters.

When those games are over you head back to your place where you then a text from your agent saying he has some good news for you and he wants to stop by to tell you…

…and that is the end.

I get that this was the prelude but I felt as though this was a little too quick as I was able to finish this in 30 minutes. It actually took longer for me to install the game online than the actual game itself.

Once you finish the Prelude you are unable to try it over. If you decide to change what type of player you want you would have to start over once you play the actual game.

A few quick points about the game

  • The gameplay looks slightly improved from what I have seen so far. The dribble animations look different but there looks to be some similar animations from years past. The players themselves seem to be a little slower, but that might be just the low ratings. Once I play the actual game I think then we can see how the improvements are in this year’s game.
  • The story itself to me seemed a little rushed. In last years prelude, you were able to play college games and the story itself was put together nicely. This year I felt like the concept was good, they could have added a few more proving ground games or even tryouts with multiple teams.
  • The idea of being undrafted is fine by me, while I will miss the idea of being drafted, it is different go the undrafted route. However, I think that should have gone the idea with what they had in 2K15 where while you were undrafted, it showed every team interest level for you and if they would sign you depending on how well you did in their tryout.
Although not fully featured, we had a quick glimpse of what the new open-world “Neighborhood” will look like.
  • I was disappointed in the fact that we were not able to get a real feeling on the open-world they had talked about in the reveal. You were basically just locked into those three courts that you played on. Not saying they should have had the whole world, but maybe a few areas just to get an idea of what it is all about.
  • A minor thing that bothered me. My 6’9″ created guy was shorter than most people when the cutscenes rolled around but went back to his size once the game started. This was never a problem in previous games and I hope that this will not be an issue when the game comes out.
  • Achievements for Xbox are huge in when it comes to gaming. It is a great way to brag to your friends on far you have gotten in a certain game. Last year we saw the 2K17 Prelude have a few easy achievements. It seems like this year they decided to not add any this year but for some reason, the PS4 has a trophy system (the PlayStation version of achievements) for the game. I just found that odd that it is on one system and not the other.

Comparing it to NBA Live 18

NBA Live 18 cover athlete James Harden.

The NBA Live series has had its ups and downs but from the trailer EA released at E3, most people, including myself, were shocked to see how well Live has improved. The NBA Live 18 demo came out a while back and I was impressed with what they did. While the full version of the game does not come out until September 15th, the demo has left some very good first impressions.

Bottom Line

2K18 cover athlete Kyrie Irving in his old gear.

People say first impressions are important and I think NBA Live 18 has definitely done that with their demo. As for 2K18, the Prelude might have been a little overhyped. The graphics were amazing, but it might get overshadowed with the low-effort storyline. An 11 GB game that took around 30 to 45 minutes to download should not only be 30 minutes of gameplay. Am I saying that the Prelude potentially ruined the game itself? No. 2K has generally done well with the MyCareer section and it should be interesting to see how they will incorporate all of their game modes like MyCareer, MyPark and Pro-Am into one big open-world where you can buy items for your created player and your MyCourt.

Looking at NBA Live 18, I am interested to see how the game will be after having some complications in years past. Live has always been viewed as a downgrade to 2K as the superior basketball video game.

This year, however, there could legitimate competition for which is the better game.

Like stated earlier, NBA Live 18 will hit the shelves September 15th for $59.99 ($39.99 if you pre-order beforehand).

NBA 2K18 will be available September 19th but if pre-ordered you can pick up the game four days early on September 15th. New Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will be on the cover of the regular edition while there will be two different Shaquille O’Neal versions, the legend edition with him on the Miami Heat and the Legend Gold Edition with him on the Los Angeles Lakers. Below is the list of what each version of NBA 2K18 comes with. The prices for each game will be $59.99, $99.99 and $149.99 respectively.


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