NBA 2K23: New gameplay features introduced, a better offensive experience
NBA 2K23 will be launched soon, with stronger game functions and an all-around enhancement of competition intensity. To sum it up with one keyword, that is truth. The team worked hard to balance the NBA 2K23 experience between this and the next generation. Below, we've detailed everything you need to know about the update in the latest release of the NBA 2K franchise.
HANDLE ROCKER UPGRADE
FLEXIBLE OFFENSIVE BASKET
CLEVERLY ATTACKING THE BASKET
MORE REALISTIC SHOT
SHOOTING BAR AND FEEDBACK
GOOD PASS DEFENSE
STEALS AND CHIPS
BADGE, CREATION, AND DOMINATION
NEXT GENERATION BADGE SYSTEM
TEAM DOMINATION REDESIGN
The defense was the focus of last year's game optimization, but NBA 2K23's new features and offensive upgrades make it the perfect place to start. NBA 2K22 has been a banner year for perimeter players: Small guards have a slew of advantages against opponents taller than them, and perimeter shooting will dominate online games. To make the game in NBA 2K more realistic, we looked at how the virtual game compares to the real NBA game, and obviously, we need to give some attention and preference to players who like to finish offense at the rim. This means that we need to expand the upper frame shooting tool.
HANDLE ROCKER UPGRADE
Quickly move in the opposite direction). The most obvious upgrade is adding a new gesture combination for the joystick. We internally refer to the new mechanism as double throw (flicking the stick in one direction to bring it back to the center, then quickly moving the stick back in the same direction) and foldback (flicking the stick in one direction and letting it go) center. These new gestures introduce many new weapons for shooting and ball handling.
FLEXIBLE OFFENSIVE BASKET
For dunks, NBA 2K22's dunk-on-the-shoot bar (a prompt that appears during a game with a hard dunk) is back, but the new command allows us to expand dunk control, allowing you to dunk the dunk you want without surprises other than the dunk action. The new joystick dunk controls are as follows when pressing and holding the sprint trigger to sprint to the rim:
- ● Up = two-handed dunk
- ● Right = Power Dunk
- ● Left = light dunk
- ● down = hanging basket
- ● Up-up = Fancy two-handed dunk
- ● Down-Up = Fancy One-Handed Dunk
- ● Down-Up = Normal skill dunk with shot bar prompt
- ● Down-down = Hanging dunk with shooting bar prompt
You will find that you can now control the gondola among the new controls. We've taken this control to a new level for next-gen players with a physics simulation gondola! This is a very interesting and extremely complex technology that has been in development for several years.
The mechanism is simple. When running to the rim, use one of the new hanging dunk stances mentioned above, holding the sprint trigger when the player's hand touches the rim. As long as you hold, you can suspend indefinitely, and you can use the left stick to adjust how much you swing your body and the right stick to pull yourself to the hoop. It's all done through physics simulation, not pure animation, so it feels as good as it looks. It's one of the funniest things to do in basketball city (next-gen only), but if you're hanging around too long in an NBA game, watch out for technical fouls.
CLEVERLY ATTACKING THE BASKET
For players who want a more subtle way to lay up, the double-throw gesture for jumping to the basket, and the switchback gesture for Euro-step and cradle-step layups become very natural. A new set of quick layups can be achieved by simply holding left or right. These controls are great, especially for small guards who want to quickly turn the ball over before defenders can react and block.
For bigger/stronger players, you'll also experience a lot of new images, like when a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo is charging all the way forward, the state of someone else trying to block.
In addition, we've added several new layup packs for next-gen and current-gen, including Devin Booker, Joel Embiid, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Nikola Joel Keach, Zach LaVine, Ja Morant, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and more!
For most players, double throws can be used for post shots and jumpers. The switchback gesture enables hooks and shots; there are many new signature shots and hooks to choose from this year.
In NBA 2K23, the dribble has taken on a life of its own and has become a game within a game. Ball handlers will enjoy the "Combo" upgrade in NBA 2K23, as new gesture combos give your "arsenal" more options. The Switchback Gesture will now perform the dedicated Signature Double Cross Dribble and Hesitant Step Cross Dribble combo moves, which you can get as part of the Mobile Cross Dribble Signature Pack (options have been increased from 15 to 28). Controlling the speed and timing of the paddles in your signature animation is even more important now.
Flick the stick back and forth repeatedly to get a completely different set of animations, called a signature combo that looks pretty incredible. You can control the player's signature dribble in tandem by rocking the joystick back and forth rhythmically. A quick double throw enables the new combination above.
Another major change is the introduction of "offensive dribbling." One thing that's improved with dribbling in NBA 2K23 is that while the action looks cool, it wasn't very useful. The new Offensive Fancy Dribble provides more side-to-side movement and is more capable of forcing defenders to drop and shift their attention, allowing you to feint a shot and attack the other way - and that's in real life. All great ball handlers do great things.
There are a lot of tricks to learn how to dribble, and of course, they are all simple and feel natural to use. While teasing opponents with a flurry of flashy dribbles is fun, we don't want to encourage players to keep dribbling while shooting, leaving teammates idle. When too many movements are going on simultaneously, energy is expended faster, so it's important to be efficient and not play too long. Enter the 2KU free practice training, play with different shot timings, and get the hang of it in a few minutes.
Another new feature that prevents over-dribbling is the adrenaline-boosting concept. Each player has three energy bars available per turn, shown as the three bars below the stamina count.
Energy is drained every time you perform a power attack or explosive dash. Once the three boosts are used up, you'll notice that your speed and acceleration drop significantly for the rest of your possession. As with the dribble combo, it's important to play smartly and move efficiently, rather than aimlessly going back and forth to get around the defense.
MORE REALISTIC SHOT
The shooting side of NBA 2K23 also gets some nice upgrades. In NBA 2K22, success largely depends on shot spacing. If you can play open, you can balance the poor hit rate and the feel of the bad timing. This year, we wanted a more realistic shooting model that would capture the essence of a great NBA shooter.
Since the advent of the signature jump shot of "2K" basketball, the graphics have been more or less aesthetic, but functionally the same. This year, each iconic jumper has unique shooting stats that help determine its effectiveness.
- ● Shooting Speed – how fast the shot reaches the ideal release point
- ● Release Height – the height from which the ball is thrown
- ● Defensive Immunity – how well the shot affects the opposing defense
- ● Timing Impact – Adjust the shot window for good timing rewards to offset bad timing penalties
We've also added many shooting animations to choose from, more than double the amount of any previous 2K release, and all more realistically reflecting each player's real-life jump shot. For My Player, the shot animation will be determined by the shot rating, so you'll have to try all the options to find the one that best suits your skills and playstyle. We look forward to seeing the community's signature shot selection become more diverse as the next shot evolves.
SHOOTING BAR AND FEEDBACK
There are also five new shooting bars to choose from, with 15 more to be unlocked during the season in the coming year! Some are big. Some are small, some are overhead, some are sideways, and some are below the pitcher. Each bar is your sweet pitch spot when it's filled and emptied, just like in NBA 2K17 to NBA 2K20. The new shot bar option has been well-received in the community, so we believe the new changes will make everyone as happy as possible.
You'll also notice a subtle change in lens shot feedback this year. Use the NBA 2K23 shooting arc to help indicate whether the shot is early (high arc), late (flat arc), or on time (ideal arc), so it's easy to immediately tell if the right release point is reached by paying attention to the arc cue. We'll delay the time/space overlay and green release animation with shot feedback enabled until the ball hits the hoop. It's a small change, but it does bring back some of the drama that a green light sometimes doesn't bring, and it also encourages everyone to continue playing through possession rather than giving up too early in transition.
GOOD PASS DEFENSE
For organizers, you'll also find some new tools available. The lead pass is back in the next generation, and like the current generation, press and hold Y to let the receiver cut to the rim and release the button to pass.
Another change is the new spot pass mechanic. Press and hold B, and the receiver pointing with the left stick will quickly pull off the outside shot in a V-shape or flare. When there's no time to get your teammates into the full line, this is a very useful quick play that allows you to play in open spaces. Created players can also be outfitted with signature passing styles to emulate some of the best players on the court, including Stephen Curry, Magic Johnson, Jason Williams, and LeBron James.
Whether you prefer to drive in the paint, play defense in the low post, or spot-up shots from behind the 3-point line, NBA 2K23 offers a variety of ways to fit your offensive plan.
The defense has always been a top priority for gaming teams. We know that all the games in the world, the upgraded offense, would be boring without a defensive counter-attack to stop them. So let's talk about major improvements to the game from a reverse perspective.
NBA 2K23's shooting defense has been well overhauled. Last year, a simple shot defense calculation looked at two specific points: the defender's position at the start and the distance from the ball when the shot was released. This calculation works well, but it has its drawbacks. If the defender's hand or arm moves slightly into a bad position during our shot count, you may get a bad defensive score, even though the game already looks great.
This year, we created a system that evaluates a defender's game hand throughout the shooting action window. This larger sample set provides more accurate results and helps to get defensive scores as close to player expectations as possible based on what the player sees on the screen.
The ball-on-the-ball defense and body take-off for on-court play have received significant updates, with new content that more accurately describes current one-on-one player interactions. Three bars on the indicator represent three areas: frontal occlusion, left defense, and right defense. The area where the defender is located is shown in red. If the ball handler attempts to attack the red line, they will be cut off, lose possession or drop the ball.
A good defender can predict where the ball handler is going, and blocking defenses makes that even more important now. The blocking defense system is suitable for defending the perimeter and low-post ball-holding defenders and can resolve the conversation between offense and defense through collisions.
Blocking has also been greatly improved this year. In NBA 2K22, we put a huge effort into improving the shot block success rate and enabling players to block any shot that goes into the paint. In NBA 2K23, blocks are adjusted to a more realistic level, resulting in more predictable results. There is no longer a LeBron James-level shot-chasing situation at a small guard like last year. You must use the right players, stop at the right spots, and time their shot blocks. You'll also notice a marked increase in ball-handling security for elite dunkers.
In the past, it was always risky for an offensive player to challenge a defender with a tomahawk and two-handed dunks, even when they were far away from the defender. NBA 2K23 makes some changes to encourage good dunkers to use more dunk action combinations. At the right time, the attacker will not have to worry about the ball being slapped off the ball all the time by dominating the enhanced dunk. The cap system now also includes "fly-by" caps. When the game is nearing the end, and the perimeter shooter is blocked on the perimeter, it's better to fly over the defender to raise his hand rather than bump into the shooter and send them to the free throw line.
STEALS AND CHIPS
Chipping is new and has been added with a ton of new content and better defense this year. So, if you're a small defender, the fast hand can be as effective at holding down rim rushers and bigs in the paint as a good shot-blocker. We've also added a breakdown chip on forced layups to ensure defenders' steals are fully valued and not overlooked.
You'll see a more pronounced sideline in the game when the ball gets slapped off by blocks or steals. More reliable catches near the out-of-bounds line, as is flying to save the ball back into the field. I've seen some amazing 50-on-50 chance saves, the kind that even Dennis Rodman and Alex Caruso would be proud of!
BADGE, CREATION, AND DOMINATION
Everyone first tries to build a new My Player when they pick up a new version of 2Kis. This year, the main goal of the Player Creator is to refine, trim and balance. You still have full control over building any player you want, but the new creator ensures that all players created, regardless of size or expertise, are unique and balanced.
In addition to last year's 5v5 environment for testing the unfinished player creator, there is now a 3v3 environment. For next-gen players, this is especially useful if you enjoy playing basketball on the courts of Basketball City and want to make sure your players can hang out on the streets.
Another important addition to this creation system is that animation purchases will no longer be specific to a save file but will be tied to an account. In other words, if you buy NBA 2K23 an animation for your bowler creation, it can be equipped on your rim rusher creation, provided your player meets all the animation requirements. For current-gen players, you'll no longer be limited by the pie chart building system of years past, as it's been replaced by the more powerful player creator for the next gen.
NEXT GENERATION BADGE SYSTEM
The most impactful change in terms of player development is the new badge system for the next generation. When looking at telemetry data from previous years, we noticed that players were often drawn to the same badges, so stacking certain badges on top of each other was a bit too much. This year, we're changing to a tiered badge system. There are 16 badges for each attribute category: 8 for level 1, 4 for level 2, and 4 for level 3. The basic rule is that you need to equip a certain number of badges at lower tiers before you can equip badges at higher tiers. Tier 1 badges are the weakest for your players but also cost the least badge points. As you level up step by step and earn more influential badges, the cost of spending points goes up.
The motivation behind this change is to encourage players to make more meaningful hard choices when creating their badge collections, make the feature of loading badges more valuable, and bring a better overall balance to badge games in general. In addition to tiers, we're also introducing "core" badges, Four unique badge slots that can be filled with badges that do not deduct badge points. Each badge has a requirement, and completing the challenge places the badge in the core slot. We also made some changes to the badge itself:
- ○ Dodge the Terminator – easier to pass through other players to gather, avoid collisions and steals
- ○ Big hits and small masters – improve the ability to pass the defender on the inside layup
- ○ Aerial Wizard – Able to complete alley-oops and tip-ups
- ○ Against the Rim – Like Giannis and LeBron, can rush out of the siege
- ○ Removed: Hook Expert
- ○ Three Point Agent – Ability to hit difficult three-pointers off the dribble
- ○ Mid-Range King – Improves the ability to shoot mid-range jumpers like NBA 2K23 Jordan
- ○ Shield – reduces fatigue and penalty for shooting attributes when over-moving before shooting
- ○ Spot Up Shooter – Improves spot-up shooters' ability to knock down catches and shots, allowing them to stay still longer before shooting and shoot better
- ○ Reverse Kid – improved ability to shoot when falling behind in the game
- ○ Hands up and knifes down – if the opponent doesn't reach out to interfere, the outside shooter's hit rate will be higher
- ○ Gap Hunter – Once a play badge, now improves stepback and jump shots and also causes defenders to trip more often
- ○ Unlimited Range – A much-loved old trick that improves bowlers' field goal percentages from within the 3-point range
- ○ Removed: Long Range Shooter, Hot Spot Hunter, Quick Shot Shooter, Dislocation Specialist (moved into play), Spot Shooter, Spot Shooter, and Long Spot Shooter
- ○ Super Handsome Combination – Increases the efficiency of the dribble by increasing the movement of the dribble (basically a combination of last year's Master Dribble and Ball Master badges)
- ○ Dribble - Helps the ball handler win more one-on-one body collisions (against the ball master)
- ○ Vise Jaws – Improves ball security immediately after rebounding, catching, or picking up the ball. Badge for big guys!
- ○ Misalignment Specialist – Once a shooting badge, now this badge helps smaller guards take down taller defenders in a one-on-one mismatch
- ○ Removed: Bullet Passer, Conversion Master, Sticky Hands, Stop and Walk
- ○ Block Defender – A key badge for last-line bigs, improving the ability to block and fight shots in the 3-second zone
- ○ Card Monster – Helps rebounders win card fights in both offensive and defensive rebounding situations
- ○ Scrimmage Man – Pat Bev badge that improves your ability to dash on half balls and play tough defense without getting tired
- ○ Gloves – named after legendary linebacker Gary Payton, helps you push other players away and steal the ball away from ball handlers as players gather to shoot
- ○ Challenger – Improves the efficiency of outside shot defense
- ○ Removed: Defense Core
TEAM DOMINATION REDESIGN
Domination is a special ability that can be equipped on your player, activated after you dominate the bar, just like the heat boost in real life. While primary and secondary juggernauts remain, the same, team takeovers have been redesigned.
Players would activate Team Master for the entire team in the last few builds and get everyone hot after filling the primary, secondary, and Team Master bars in order. In "NBA 2K23", the team master became a cooperative team system, and the whole team shared a master bar. Every player on the team is equally divided and has a responsibility to fill the dominance bar by performing well on the pitch and being a good teammate. After the players fill their sections, the Team Master will fire up the entire team. The new design makes more sense and better captures what it means to be a hot team and dominate the game as a team.
NBA 2K23 offers AI content for both sides of the next-gen console. Here are some highlights from the AI engineer and Da Czar for you.
The first thing we want to address this year is how offensive AI uses its dribbling motions to attack. The goal is to make the AI more aggressive in setting up actions and more deliberate about the actions it uses, depending on the situation. We enhanced the AI's ability to understand the defender's position using the new occlusion defense system we discussed earlier. The AI ball handler will better assess the situation and then find the appropriate action to make the most appropriate attack. They now understand how to set up a defender, understand the defender's counter-attack intentions, and then use the appropriate combination to attack the open space based on their movement repertoire and tendencies.
To make the AI's offense more effective, we knew we had to adjust the AI's serve attempt time. To achieve this, we designed the AI to prefer to attack the open space first or break first. When given a chance, the AI will quickly attack after an action or even before an action is done. However, if the opponent is still in a good defensive position, the AI will continue to set up single and double moves to create openings.
In addition to allowing AI ball handlers to attack smarter, we also want to ensure they can represent their real-life opponents. Therefore, we built a new signature AI attack system that allows us to assign all stars a dynamic attack pack containing up to four signature action combinations. Each combination can contain up to 4 single move sets or two combined action sets. We can even create variants that allow AI actions to evolve.
For example, we can combine Kevin Durant's crotch dribble with a crotch dribble and step back. With early action priority, these actions will not be scripted. He can start the crotch dribble and attack the rim as a coherent motion, or crotch dribble and then attack. If the opponent is still in a good defensive position, he can decide to attack with any other combination of his offensive moves, or make a pull-up shot.
Another big improvement is AI for pick-and-rolls. In NBA 2K23, the player responsible for the cut understands how to maintain a spacing relationship with the ball handler and can change their path to the rim based on the ball and how they are being defended. To complete this, the AI passer also better understands open and covered passing lanes, alley-oop opportunities, and lob pass opportunities over high defenses. In this year's game, you need to pay special attention to the potential scorers in the screeners. AI is keenly aware of shot opportunities based on defensive coverage, so you'll see AI scorers analyzing multiple opportunities to score in the pick-and-roll.
On the coaching side, dynamic game planning gives AI more flexibility to choose attacking plans for different games. The AI coach will determine how to play free pick-and-rolls, free shots, and free singles by analyzing the type of game. They will also analyze the attempt after the dislocation, whether to choose to open the lane, shoot from the mid-range or make a three-pointer.
Instead of pre-determining the team's top scorer and who should get the most possession of the attacking possession, the AI coach conducts matchup assessments before the game, adding more possession to players with better matchups. It can also change weights as the game progresses based on the dynamic efficiency of each scorer on the field. If LeBron James has a better matchup and scores well, the game plan will go deeper and add more weight to him. On the other hand, if their main scorer is struggling, the AI also adjusts. So, if LeBron isn't in shape one night, you'll see more opportunities for the second and third scorers.
Last year, we built and reworked almost every major defense system. This year's focus is on improving them to deliver our best results. Every stage of our defensive game has improved. These improvements include: shifting defenses so we can determine when ball handlers are spotted, letting baseliners leave the 3-second zone and approaching who they are defending, and making the "no 3-point shot" setting work as expected. Offensive rotations are sharper and more diverse; pick-and-roll defenses are tighter and smarter; this year, players can choose to turn off dribbles and pick-and-rolls. We've also individually improved the cutter assist and better control over their defensive focus settings.
NBA 2K23 also features defensive adjustments based on on-court performance. In the past, we've looked at the points and assists of the leading scorers on offense and adjusted based on that information. However, the adjustments made by the AI must be generic, as it was previously unclear how a particular player scored and assisted. This year, our refactored action engine tracks exactly how scorers are doing damage. This engine can interpret after scoring, off-screen action, singles, and whether a player scores at the rim. It can tell the difference between a player who likes to shoot straight from the perimeter and a player who likes to shoot long-range 3-pointers after a few dribbles. We set corresponding defensive adjustments for each of the scorers in these scenarios, and the AI will automatically implement these adjustments based on the scorer's shooting efficiency. As a user, these adjustments are automatically applied for you with our adaptive engine turned on. But if you want, you can also make your adjustments using the defensive settings.
The defensive AI is stingy in helping defend until we discover that the opponent has an open space. So, at the start of the game, you may notice very little help from your teammates compared to last year, because your teammates need to see if your opponent can take advantage of the open space. Of course, if that's not your defense style, you're free to turn off auto-adjustment and have teammates help from the start of the game.
NBA 2K23 will be officially released on September 9! This year, on both ends of the pitch, you'll see improved gameplay that culminates in more wins and smoother action. We can't wait for you to experience this year's gameplay, explore new features, and discover the many hidden surprises we've put into the game.