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NBA 2K21 new current-gen gameplay features, plus demo coming soon

verything is Gameplay: All New Gameplay Features Coming to NBA 2K21 for Current-Gen; Demo Available August 24.

NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang shares details behind the innovation and inspiration used to bring this year’s gameplay to a new level. You can see full gameplay details below:

Some of the biggest changes this year include:

  • Major changes to the Pro Stick to allow for new dribbling mechanics

  • Shot meter changes from a timing bar to a targeting system

  • New shot types, new signature defensive motion styles, stronger presence from bigs in the paint and more

  • Thanks to current-gen cover athlete Damian Lillard, players will now be able to make oversized point guards (6'8)

We also announced the NBA 2K21 current-gen demo will be released on August 24 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

Ahead of launch, we'll be sharing more details on MyTEAM, MyCAREER and more for NBA 2K21 on current-gen.

Current-Gen - New Gameplay Features

It has been a rollercoaster year on many fronts, and we know it hasn’t been easy for everyone being cooped up at home with most everything in your life going virtual. Hopefully this short blog will give you something to look forward to in the virtual world as you get ready for a new year of 2K hoops with NBA 2K21! It has been a busy year for us at Visual Concepts as we’ve been working hard to bring you the best hoops experience on both the current and next gen consoles. I can’t tell you how excited the team is to reveal all the new tech and amazing advances we’re bringing to 2K basketball with the power of the next gen systems; but for today, let’s take a look at some of the gameplay improvements coming your way for the current-gen version of NBA 2K21 launching on September 4 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, and PC. Best of all, you'll have the opportunity to check out how the game plays for yourself when we release the NBA 2K21 demo on August 24 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch!

Dame Time

I had the opportunity to jump on a Zoom call with cover athlete, Damian Lillard, a few months back. He is a huge 2K gamer and had a ton of great feedback and ideas for 2K21. But his biggest request? Being able to make an oversized PG in MyCAREER. So, for all you Penny Hardaway wannabes, you have Dame to thank for that as we have upped the max height for PG to 6’8”. Dame continued to share his likes and dislikes of gameplay, which we then added to the running wishlist that we already had from the community. After compiling all the feedback, we came away with a great list of items that we knew the community wanted to see improved (e.g. long passes downcourt sailing out of bounds) and came up with skill-based solutions that would be more fun and fair for everyone.

We’ve always prided ourselves as being the most authentic basketball simulation on the market, and that will never change. But one of the challenges that we face is striking the right balance between simulating real life and making a game that’s fun and enjoyable for a wide range of fans. That’s where the debate on Skill Gap vs. Accessibility comes into play. The target we shoot for is to create a game that’s easy to pick up and play for new users while also providing enough of a skill gap for veteran users to really showcase their talent. One way we set out to accomplish this was through building out a robust set of sliders and carefully mapping the appropriate settings to all the various modes in our game. So whether it’s your first time playing against the CPU in Quick Play, messing around with your buddies in the Park, or battling in a high stakes Ante Up or competitive Pro-Am match, there’s a wide range of gameplay experiences and definitely something for everyone in NBA 2K21.

So to sum up this section, I don’t really have a fancy back of the box marketing name for the work that went into gameplay balance and “fun-ifying” the on-court experience, but I’m pretty confident that longtime fans of 2K basketball will notice the improvements and appreciate what the team was able to accomplish.

The Pro Stick

The Pro Stick has been a staple of 2K basketball for years now, and for the most part, has largely gone unchanged since its inception. For NBA 2K21, we saw this as a big opportunity to freshen up the game on the offensive end. In past games, you could hold the Pro Stick in any direction to take a jump shot. That was limiting us from utilizing the right stick as a fully featured dribble stick. So this year, we’re making a pretty significant change to how the Pro Stick works. In a nutshell:

  • Hold RS down = jump shot

  • Hold RS left or right = escape dribble moves

  • Hold RS up = signature size-ups

  • Tap the RS = quick 1-to-1 dribble moves

  • Tap the RS with Sprint held = quick momentum dribble moves

With this change, we’ve been able to greatly expand the dribble move arsenal and give you access to more moves in a more intuitive control scheme. After a game or two, it will feel second nature and will have you breaking ankles in no time! Along with the remap, the moves themselves have been overhauled to be much more responsive and chain-able. Street moves have been moved to a tap of the left trigger as well, so you won’t be firing them off by accident when you’re breaking down defenders in the Park. And for the NBA size-ups, we’ve added several new signatures like Harden’s around the leg dribble, a new version of Kobe’s dance, and Durant’s patented hesi cross. Another NBA legend, Nate Robinson, came in for motion capture this year and gave us some really unique moves that I’ll leave for you to find as well. You can also perform size-up dribbles on the move by holding the Pro Stick Up and using the left stick to move your player in any direction. Altogether, you can choose from a list of 14 Park and 36 unique NBA Size-ups. And when you factor in all the 1-to-1 size-up packages and new customizable escape dribbles, there’s really no limit to the types of combos you can pull off in NBA 2K21.