Whether it be thanks to similar gameplay, reused assets, or even the very same game modes recycled with nothing more than a new year’s player roster, stagnation is clearly an issue. In fact, it might be one of the biggest challenges faced by video game franchises with annual release cycles, and the NBA 2K franchise is no exception. The thing is, what can a game truly do to overcome these claims? Should they create a more lifelike simulation of basketball? Maybe make animations flow even more smoothly? Or perhaps simply including a fun new feature may not necessarily be the be-all-and-end-all, but simple enough to make one giggle? NBA 2K23 attempts to do all of these little things and more in a bid to keep the stagnation at bay. 

“This version is the best version of the annual franchise” is a line often regurgitated by players and critics alike, but there is something to be said when developers do seem like they actively listen to their players. While the game is most certainly just another case of “another year, another season”, Visual Concepts have seemingly gone out of their way to focus on smaller, more menial improvements aiding in uplifting the franchise as a whole.

NBA 2K23 is no different than its predecessors, in that it offers three main modes of play: MyPlayer, MyTeam, and MyNBA. Of these three, MyPlayer acts as the career mode. It follows a set-path and a written narrative that is serviceable for a sports title that will, inevitable, find its replayability in its multiplayer. It has all the cliches, and then some, as players take on the role of a relatable everydayman who ends up being the unpopular draft pick; becomes quick rivals with a favoured player, and ultimately, comes out on top in the international leagues. Career modes in sports titles tend to be either hyperfocused simulations or casual game modes with loose tangents serving better as tutorials into the grand scheme of things. In NBA 2K23 it is much more of the latter, serving as a cinematic prologue into MyNBA.

The franchise staple MyNBA remains mostly unchanged from its continual releases. This year’s largest addition is the new MyNBA Eras mode, which lets players take a deep dive into the decades shaping the league over the last century. Players can experience the rise of Micheal Jordan, oversee the major team rebrands of the 2000s, and even go through more recent mega events that change the way players can experience the various arenas, teams, and visual elements. Major changes include a simplified timeout system (like the good old days), different commentary, changes in overlays, and even unique new uniforms for teams to wear. 

Lastly, the final mode players will spend significant time with is the MyTeam mode, which is for all intents and purposes, this game’s version of Ultimate Team. While part of the series for pretty much forever, the most welcoming change is the removal of a staple feature: contracts. This way, players can use their cards however they wish! Other changes include the return of the fan-favourite Jordan Challenges. 

Beyond game mode changes and differences from its previous ilk, however, NBA 2K23 features very little else. One can attest to the increase in frame rate [likely thanks in large part to the new console hardware] that come as a result of reworked animations and character models. Loading times have also been reduced significantly from previous instalments too, and performance across the board is stellar. 

What is most definitely not too great about NBA 2K23 comes by way of the game’s Virtual Currency (VC). Players get different amounts of starting VC depending on the edition of the game they have purchased, but in order to experience everything the game has on offer is a matter of grinding a whole lot, or spending even more real world money. Top Tip: do not pull an Edward and buy all the cosmetics before you even get a few hours into MyNBA. Instead, it would be beneficial to spend or save them on packs or within The City (the multiplayer hub). 

In terms of multiplayer, NBA 2K23 players can expect the most banal upgrades from the year before. These include simple balance and quality of life updates above the same animation and character model updates. Game modes have received next to no updates, and players who play ranked modes will have pretty much the exact same experience as those from yesteryears. As always, the saving grace for NBA 2K23 and its legacy is some of the best netcode ever experienced. 

Predictably, NBA 2K23 is the best NBA video game to date. While it sounds like a misnomer, and a little bit of an exaggeration, there is simply no other way to put it. Fans of the franchise will find the most fun and the best quality of life updates in this version, while fans who have held out for a few years might find a refreshingly updated experience awaiting them. The game is by no means breaking any new grounds, and it will take Visual Concepts a heck of a lot more effort to make the game feel like it stands above all the others, but it is one of the standout experiences in terms of annual sports titles in 2022. 



Decent QoL updatesThe majority of the gameplay still feels the same
Most optimised NBA title yetMultiplayer is most definitely the same
MyNBA Eras is a great addition

Title reviewed on Nintendo Switch Lite with code supplied by 2K Sports

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Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.