NBA 2K23 was released on September 9th, 2022, presenting fans with plenty of new content, features, and game modes. Over the month of August and into September, NBA 2K was steadily fueling the hype of its latest edition, releasing a variety of reveals about all the new experiences fans can explore firsthand in their new game.
Whether you are a returning NBA 2K player or a new one, a noteworthy part of NBA 2K’s approach with the improvement they implement from game to game, is digging into not only how much they can innovate and expand upon what they’ve done in previous editions, but also how much they can capitalize on making their next installment as realistic and authentic as possible.
With so much material to cover in NBA 2K23 across both next and current generation consoles, there’s only so much we’ll be able to go over without turning this review into a thesis essay. However, there’s plenty to be had in this review, and largely due to the depth and multi-faceted analysis we provide on all the essential, need-to-know components of NBA 2K23.
NB2K23: Graphics (Grade: A)
When it comes to graphics, one of the most important aspects to look for is the finite details that make an experience come to life. Good questions to ask yourself when assessing graphics are the following: How exact and intricate is the imagery? What elements does the game use to create the environments it provides? How real does it feel?
In comparison to other AAA sports games, NBA 2K continues to outdo itself time and again, delivering some of the best graphics you’ll see in any sports video game. From the tattoo art, to the physical definition and features of the players, to the beads of sweat, to the TV broadcast time differences, to even the reflections on the court, it has become truly remarkable to see how much NBA 2K has refined their graphics and presentation of their latest edition.
This is not only something you can appreciate on the basketball court during games, but also through MyCAREER’s ‘The City’ and ‘G.O.A.T. Boat’ as well. Although sound is a vital ingredient to make any video gaming experience feel as real as possible, it’s the imagery that allows players to delve into a whole different dimension of gaming, and NBA 2K23 captures that wholeheartedly. New NPC quests really magnify that as well and show you the type of exceptional work NBA 2K continues to build on from game to game with its graphics.
NBA 2K23: Gameplay (Grade: A-)
If there’s any aspect of a video game you must test first when trying it out, it’s the gameplay. Movement and fluidity are two of the most important aspects to hone in on for any sports game, and NBA 2K23 is no different. From dribbling, shooting, passing, and defending, how your players move is an integral component of the NBA 2K experience.
This year, NBA 2K23 just about nailed every aspect of their gameplay and added a whole lot more of refreshing, new ways to dominate on both sides of the ball. Here’s a breakdown of what NBA 2K23 introduced that is worth keeping an eye out for in their new game.
NBA 2K23 did integrate a variety of new Pro Stick mechanics fans will have at their disposal. This was meant to improve the shooting and ball-handling combos you can implement with your player.
Speaking of the Pro Stick, NBA 2K23 did a lot with their dunking and layup moves in their all-new Pro Stick control map. This years’ new dunking commands not only feature the return of the metered skill dunks from NBA 2K22, but will also ensure you dunk the way you wanted to without mistakenly hitting the wrong dunk gesture.
In addition, NBA 2K23 introduced a variety of new layup packages players can use to finesse their way to the hoop and finish through contact. This year they added the layup packages of stars like Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Ja Morant, and more. Tapping into your creativity offensively is the best part of the game and NBA 2K23 takes you to new heights with how you can do so.
Probably the coolest new gameplay feature in NBA 2K23 is the adrenaline boosts. It put things into perspective from a playing standpoint by emphasizing the fact that you can’t just dribble or run like crazy from side to side for as long as you like without baring some sort of consequence for doing so.
The three-bar boost meter also forces you to rely a lot more on your teammates and your ability to create scoring opportunities using more than just one player on your five-man rotation.
Of all the adjustments made to the gameplay, this could arguably be one of the biggest to get used to. At the forefront of their new changes, is the shooting attributes that have unique stats that determine how effective and reliable each will be. This includes Shot Speed, Release Height, Defensive Immunity, and Timing Impact.
Moreover, NBA 2K23 added twice the amount of shot animations than it had in any other NBA 2K edition in franchise history and refined the accuracy and purity of each player’s real life jump shot.
On top of all of these new animations and attributes, is the five new shot meters players can tryout and choose from. With some being larger than normal while others are off to the side or above your head, each meter is designed to precisely emulate the shot mechanics of the player you’re using, with the meter’s max fill point marking the ideal release for a player’s shot.
The biggest adjustment when playing this new game, is the timing of your meter. In comparison to NBA 2K22, it’s much slower and strung out. That said, you can adjust your meter speed in the Controller Settings under the ‘Shot Timing Release Time’ tab should you be opposed to the speed it’s on.
Defensively, NBA 2K23 did a lot to build on the arsenal of movements and options you can delve into. One of their biggest new features is their defensive system that assesses a player’s contesting efficiency depending on the shooting motion of the player they’re guarding. This allows for more accurate contests that mirror the opponents decision making with their shooting.
To add to it, NBA 2K23 revamped their on-ball defense, shot blocking, and stealing abilities. To start, on-ball defense received a new set of defensive movements that resemble more closely to that of a 1v1 matchup. Shot blocking enhanced the targeting feature when attempting blocks and rewards timing much more than ever. Lastly, steals and strips have been improved quite a bit, with the sideline awareness factor of your teammates far higher upon knocking the ball loose.
The only considerable downside with the gameplay is simply the learning curve since NBA 2K22. A lot has changed, particularly on the shooting front. And getting a feel for everything will take some time. But the best part is that NBA 2K23 makes the learning process an enjoyable one to dive into that grants fans various of great ways to improve and sharpen their game.
NBA 2K23: MyTEAM (Grade: A-)
From the handful of different MyTEAM and Ultimate Team online modes that span over various sports video games, there’s debatably no better one than NBA 2K’s MyTEAM. This year, NBA 2K23 improved the variety of options one can thoroughly enjoy on MyTEAM. And one of the biggest reasons why MyTEAM has continued to be as popular as it is, is mainly due to the reality of how quick and easy it is to get great cards to play with.
NBA 2K23 MyTEAM added a handful of new features into the mix. But here are the key standouts of the game mode that’s made it better than ever.
This might seem small for some, but was a much-needed change that makes a significant difference for the MyTEAM community. Contracts have long been a cumbersome burden in this game mode, forcing players to have to allocate valuable coin towards something they shouldn’t have to waste it on.
One of the coolest new features NBA 2K23 introduced for the very first time this year, is the Triple Threat Online Co-Op mode. With the option to play in a group consisting of two to six people, Triple Threat Co-Op also grants fans for the first time ever the ability to select which players they want to use and lock onto for the game, making for an engaging way to have fun with your friends while unlocking rewards at the same time.
What’s even better, is that the player lock addition isn’t just limited to Triple Threat Co-Op. In fact, if you want to focus on one player or just have sole control of one position, you can now do so for a whole game in any MyTEAM mode. Having that kind of leeway and flexibility in MyTEAM, is refreshing and brings you closer with your friends within the NBA 2K community.
For NBA 2K23, fans get to choose between a Ja Morant, Jimmy Butler, or Joel Embiid evolve player they can start their MyTEAM with. As always, each player has the ability to evolve its card, first into an 85 overall sapphire before being able to evolve it into an 88 overall ruby.
Before you decide who you want to select, MyTEAM allows you to play a trial game with all three starter players to give you a firsthand feel for who is just right for your team.
Once you pick your starter card, you will have the opportunity to unlock a 90 Overall Amethyst Fred Jones upon playing 10 games in any MyTEAM mode. This is one of the many easy ways you can unlock great cards in MyTEAM and build your lineup with some stacked players.
Along with adding in Triple Threat Online Co-Op play, NBA 2K also introduced a new single player version called ‘Clutch Time’, and it’s a lot of fun. Presenting you with the opportunity to put your strongest starting five in MyTEAM to the test against the A.I. in a fast-paced, competitive game that consists of a 14-second shot clock, Clutch Time not only consists of a single, five-minute quarter but also comes with a 4-point line.
The goal of Clutch Time Single Player is to win 10 games in a tier without losing three in a row. This new game mode is as good as advertised and forces you to think fast and make quick decisions to win games. It’s use of a 4-point line is also futuristic and brings an added way to score that’s daring yet rewarding to try out throughout the course of a game.
Though it’s nothing particularly special on an engagement scale, the concept behind Exhibitions is really neat as you get to send any of your MyTEAM talents on international missions around the globe.
Whether it’s Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Honolulu, and more, you can send your players to destinations abroad and have them come back with cool, new rewards specific to each location. NBA 2K23 has even teased the idea of introducing the North Pole as a vacation players can make in December.
Though it’s not as immersive as it could be, Exhibitions is a fun feature that allows you to get a different take for the game’s cultural impact across the world, while earning rewards and items to improve your lineup.
Arguably the most popular and best game mode in MyTEAM, is Triple Threat. From the endless types of rewards, engaging 3v3 setup, ability to assemble teams of three consisting of so many types of cards and positions, Triple Threat has really taken off in NBA 2K’s MyTEAM, and this year, it only got better.
In NBA 2K23, you no longer have to rack up the wins to unlock the best prizes. Instead, you’ll have a specific rewards ladder for every Season, allowing anyone to maximize the mode no matter the experience level.
To add to it, the correlating Triple Threat Online mode has only expanded the range of options you can now play in with any three of your star cards you’ve assembled in MyTEAM. Both console generations can play on what NBA 2K23 calls ‘The Rooftop’ as you take on three-man squads in the MyTEAM community for exclusive Ball Drop prizes.
Triple Threat continues to evolve into a more and more engaging, fun way to earn a lot of the best rewards in MyTEAM while providing a near perfect balance of game length and player variety that you can enjoy on the court.
Domination is one of the original MyTEAM modes that still continues to be a big favorite amongst the NBA 2K online community. And because of the continuous loyalty that NBA 2K has received, they decided to go extra hard with the Domination launch content fans can unlock.
Adding the largest group of games to date in MyTEAM (five sets of 33 games each), Domination features teams from the Current NBA, NBA Champions, Golden & Modern Era Historic Teams, and All-Time Teams for every single franchise. Upon completing all 99 stars available for each Domination set, you will unlock five different 90+ overall players, consisting of an Amethyst Julius Randle, a Diamond Bill Walton, a Diamond Mike Bibby, a Diamond Mitch Richmond, and a Pink Diamond John Havlicek.
The most important new twist NBA 2K23 added (and for the better), is that to really optimize how many stars you can earn, players will have to win against teams by a set point margin. Previously, it was based on MyTEAM Point earnings depending if you dunked or performed a post up move. But now, it’s just about getting the most definitive win possible, which is great because that forces you to stay locked in from start to finish and keep your foot on the gas pedal when scoring the rock.
Although MyTEAM in NBA 2K23 is a fantastic online mode, it’s not perfect, and as a result, won’t receive an A or A+ rating. Every now and then, server issues can interrupt your game and send you back to the main menu. But to add to it, MyTEAM does require you to put in plenty of time and effort to build up your lineup with diamond-studded players, which makes it quite the grind.
However, from the free locker codes that are released on social media to unlocking cool items and players to the many different ways you can earn rewards and play with your collection of stars, NBA 2K continues to lead the way with one of the best online MyTEAM experiences amongst all AAA sports franchises.
NBA 2K23: MyCAREER (Grade: A-)
The NBA 2K23 story mode hits different this year and in a good way. Disregarding the pre-draft preparation aspect we’ve seen in previous editions, NBA 2K23 decided to produce a story mode oriented around your created MyPLAYER named MP, who’s a controversial draft pick that fans of the team and sports analysts alike doubt and question whether he can become great and live up to the hype.
This is something that fans have never had the opportunity to experience before and now can in NBA 2K23’s MyCAREER story mode. Getting booed on draft night, for example, is something that can happen and commonly does just about every year. And the story mode gives you a great taste of just that and how you have to prove doubters wrong to become welcomed and successful.
Furthermore, the press conference and media exchanges, character dialogues, and cast of star faces NBA 2K added to their story mode, really provided an immersive and engaging atmosphere to sink into and enjoy. This year, NBA 2K23 introduced legendary hip-hop/rap artist J. Cole as one of the characters you can meet and work with, adding another layer of depth to a game mode that’s rich with diversity.
Another great feature about MyCAREER that was quite a big hit, was the MyPLAYER Builder. For both cross and next-gen consoles, NBA 2K23 made your MyPLAYER Builder in such a way that it compels you to allocate the points you’re given towards two skill categories if you’re looking to have high ratings for certain attributes.
In other words, the limitation for how good you can make your players’ potentials within every category of skills you have, makes for a far realistic experience that allows you to determine what kind of role player you want to be. So for example, when you start increasing your passing or mid-range shot skills, other attributes will lose or add some points, depending on how far you raise those skills you’re adjusting. Everything is interconnected and can fluctuate ever so slightly based on how you allocate your skill points.
The next-gen port took the badge system to a whole new level in NBA 2K23. While bringing in core badges to next-gen ports, it presents fans of the game with a whole new dynamic of how to utilize your badges in-game.
Badges now feel more rewarding when equipping and grinding due to certain challenges that grant you extra badge points as you complete them, depending on the tier. The tier system, on that note, is also an excellent add-on to the game, allowing for a more fair share of badge points distributed across all tiers for a well rounded out badge arsenal.
The City (Grade: A- )
The City has returned to NBA 2K23 with a bang! With a reformed map layout – there is a plethora of quality of life changes that have been brought in to make the experience a lot more smoother than it’s previous year.
With the addition to the Jordan Challenge, there’s been new dynamic to how The City is laid out this year – and it’s awesome! As always, NBA 2K brings fresh updates to the next-gen port, which is refreshing seeing as the game is now entering Season 2.
The City for me receives an A- which indicates while there has been upgrades, it’s been nothing spectacular of the matter as it is a run on from the previous two years.
G.O.A.T. Boat (Grade: B+)
When comparing both The City and the G.O.A.T. Boat, the differences that set each apart are noticeable. For example, the Dreamville Studio with J. Cole is only on next-gen. This also goes for The Arena as well, which grants a much better feel for what it’s like to go through all the motions players experience before and after the game. Because of these big differences, G.O.A.T. Boat just doesn’t live up to the same level of immersive play than The City provides.
With that being said, considering the G.O.A.T. Boat was second on the priority list, they did a standup job with the game mode from top to bottom. If you enjoyed NBA 2K22’s ‘Cancha Del Mar’, you’re going to really like what they did with the G.O.A.T. Boat in NBA 2K23, building off of it with a variety of great new features.
Without further ado, let’s dig into all the important aspects of the G.O.A.T. Boat that are worthwhile taking note of when playing NBA 2K23.
The G.O.A.T. Boat really lives up to its name as far as how big it is and how much your player can do throughout. Containing a three deck layout with wide traversing pathways, the G.O.A.T. Boat provides a special experience for only current-gen players that’s simple to get a feel for and explore. The key environmental details and imagery that NBA 2K enhanced on their cruise ship is quite the spectacle to behold and magnifies this completely new world you get to dive into.
Trips (3v3), Deuces (2v2), and MOAT (5v5) can be found on the Platinum Deck while the Jordan Challenge, Rec Lounge, and Promenade are all on the Silver Deck. In between these two floors is the Golden Deck, where players can delve into Pro-Am and MyCOURT. This year NBA 2K23 added in six 3v3 and 2v2 courts each as well as one extra 5v5 court for MOAT, granting a lot more space and options for players to get in games quicker.
However, the best aspect of the G.O.A.T. Boat’s set up, would have to be the Promenade. Giving off the feeling of a fancy, tropical plaza speckled with small stores and points of interest to check out, the Promenade floor has a much more centralized feel to it and provides a calm, chill offsetting vibe after coming off the courts.
If you want to dig deep into what the G.O.A.T. Boat has to offer, the side quests are where its at and there’s a lot of them. NBA 2K23 did a nice job providing a range of different NPCs that you can interact with and complete several missions for to earn prizes and rewards.
To add missions into your quest journal, you will need to interact with each NPC. Most of the quests are straightforward and aren’t hard to complete, whether it’s making two layups in a game or completing a game of Deuces. NBA 2K23 did also add a new type of quest called ‘Rival Quests’, granting fans now the opportunity to go up against an NPC 1v1 and experience an established storyline that comes with each.
If you want to unlock some rewards and take your experience on the G.O.A.T. Boat to a whole different level, these quests provide just that and allow you to explore what this mode has to offer in full.
A major part of the seasonal events NBA 2K hosted on the ‘Cancha Del Mar’, entailed of international vacations fans could take across the globe to play in various different competitions. In NBA 2K23, that is coming back and with much more to it.
Fans can expect some of the same destinations from NBA 2K22 to return this year and several new locations as well. There will be one new excursion and one new on-deck event per Season.
Over the course of the year, the G.O.A.T. Boat will also receive several cosmetic updates to fit the vibe of each Season. This includes thematic designs and logo changes to its many courts for 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5.
MyNBA (Grade: B+)
MyERAS (Grade: B)
MyERAS was a great touch by 2K to bring to the next-gen port of the game, allowing fans to experience the ‘what-ifs’ during different eras of NBA integrated into the similar MyLEAGUE model we see every year. It’s a great addition to the already immersive season-long league simulation mode.
However, being the first installment of the mode, it does seem to lack. The new presentation filters are great and bring new immersive feel to the game, boasting a real-life ‘broadcast’ package. But outside of that, it falls into the similar realm and structure, which has always had the same feel in MyLEAGUE in past years.
Thus receiving a B. While it is a great mode to introduce to NBA 2K fans, it’s too early to call this a home-run of a game mode without a couple more 2K titles to develop the mode more.
MyLEAGUE (Grade: C+)
NBA 2K23’s decision to not include MyERAS on current-gen severely dampened the potential this game mode could have hit and remains to be the biggest reason why it gets a C+ at best. It’s not that the options in the ‘MyLEAGUE’ menu are dull or boring. But the selection of modes available and how they operate, is nearly a copy and paste of what NBA 2K did last year in NBA 2K22.
In other words, what they did with MyERAS for next-gen, would have been really special for current-gen as well. The season modes and even ‘MyGM’ have needed a new change of pace and experience, and MyERAS could have been the solution for current-gen as well.
NBA 2K’s authentic improvement and continuous integration of WNBA league and season modes has been refreshing to have in the MyLEAGUE menu. Granting you the chance to set foot in a whole different world of its own, MyLEAGUE allows fans to get a great feel for the WNBA and the style of basketball that comes with it.
The W (Grade: B)
The W has expanded and is at its highest in NBA 2K23. 2K have really stepped up their online integration with The W alongside community integration and more rewards to be gifted to fans of the game to top off their performances on the floor.
With constant fresh integration of the game mode, fans of the mode will be excited to get their hands on this mode which adds a new dynamic to NBA 2K’s already strong player base. However, since the beginning of the introduction of ‘The W’, the mode does still feel lacking in some areas.
Though it does not receive similar treatment to The City and MyCAREER, 2K should look to replicate the amount of content put into The W similar to that of MyCAREER so its lifecycle can be prolonged to a similar length.
Jordan Challenge (Grade: B+)
The Jordan Challenge brings a plethora of new games to play. Historically, in NBA 2K11, this game mode brings back a mount of nostalgia.
A revolutionary game mode revived again was a great way to celebrate the the 23rd installment on NBA 2K, and what a great upgrade it received!
Being able to play throughout Jordan’s years since college all the way to his final championship, is a thing of history. And having to witness it virtually through the use of our hands, is an immersive touch 2K have brought fans joy with.
Final Score (Grade: A-)
NBA 2K delivered arguably one of its best editions we’ve seen in quite some time. Not only can you see and feel the marginal yet immensely impactful changes and enhancements they added throughout the game. But it’s also not hard to notice just how much effort and energy was put into so many new features and aspects of the game that make it come to life like we’ve never experienced before.
The graphics look as pristine as ever and are easily the best the game has produced in franchise history. MyTEAM has been a great success, particularly with the introduction of Co-Op Triple Threat and the removal of player contracts. To top it off, the MyCAREER experience has taken a new, revolutionized shape and meaning, providing an all-new MyPLAYER Builder system and an engaging storyline that keeps you invested in the offline experience.
However, the game is by no means perfect and the fact that NBA 2K chose to not integrate at least MyERAs or The W in the current-gen editions, was a major blow towards the games all-around potential.
In addition, NBA 2K could have done a much better job with the G.O.A.T. Boat. The NPC’s don’t even compare to the ones available in The City. And the variety of cool experiences you miss out on, from The Theater to The Arena and more, was pretty disappointing and highlighted how one-side their focus was on the NBA 2K23 next-gen experience.
*Next Generation Review Completed On PS5 by Sulaiman Sarwar.
*Current Generation Review Completed On Xbox One by Olivier Dumont.
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox Series X, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Steam
Release Date: September 9, 2022
To check what a review score means from us, click here.