With the start of an NBA season also comes a new iteration of the wildly successful NBA 2K video game franchise. LakersNation.com was recently invited to play an early alpha build of NBA 2K19, which of course features none other than LeBron James as the cover athlete.
One interesting bit of information that was revealed by a 2K19 spokesperson is the words and phrases that accompany James on the cover were all written by himself, without much direction or input. They feature odes to his career, hometown and family, and inspirational words.
Meanwhile, although the 2K series set a new record by selling 10 million units of the 2018 game, there’s hardly any resting on their laurels. As video game consoles evolve and fans’ desires grow more complex and demanding, the production team strives to raise the bar.
“Year over year, I don’t think there’s a better game in the industry. I say that respectfully, humbly,” gameplay producer Scott O’Gallagher told LakersNation.com.
There was a monumental improvement in 2016 that’s since been added to and retooled to make the game all the more realistic. “In 2K16 we added the adaptive coaching engine and basically what that did is, that system has over 6,000 adjustments,” O’Gallagher explained.
“So every team adapts to every player at a situation differently. The adjustments Houston did to Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns, it’s that detailed. Where he catches it, and we’re going to send the double from the weakside low-post. That’s the type of detail we have.
“Just making sure every team is as authentic as possible.”
With that, O’Gallagher and the 2K team have a countless amount of playbooks, or ‘flow tech,’ that allows the gameplay to adjust on the fly and offense to become more freelance as opposed to being bound by set calls.
“That adapts to your success and whether you’re playing just a play-now game, regular-season game, or playoffs,” O’Gallagher said.
In terms of gameplay of the beta version, the teams selected were, naturally, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors. When compared to last year’s game, defensive tendencies and matchups were much more locked in.
Offensively, dribbling has seen some refinements, lending to smoother gameplay. One notable change is the ability to incorporate a hesitation dribble (using LB on Xbox).
As the game becomes more in tune with what’s seen in the NBA, O’Gallagher is confident it can become a resource, if it’s not already there. “I think eventually, if it’s not already, it’s going to be a scouting tool for teams,” he said.
And with that, comes a challenge of seeking perfection and living up to expectations. “You’re worried, as a developer, everybody is somebody’s favorite player. Every team is somebody’s favorite team. I’ll hear it, and I get it. I totally get it,” O’Gallagher said.