NBA 2K23 brings the power of Giannis to the paint, promises Dev

In NBA 2K23, the court is bigger than the three-point arc. That should go without saying, but with last year’s game, Visual Concepts admitted that shooters had too much of an advantage. Talented shooters hit shots consistently and with less than real effort, while even less skilled players could exhaust long jump shots and 3-pointers if they just kept an open eye. Among a host of other gameplay changes in NBA 2K23, the focus in this fall’s game is to bring balance back to offensive play and empower players to work in the paint and attack the rim.

“We looked at how the virtual games played out compared to the real-life NBA,” said NBA 2K Game Director Mike Wang. “And it was clear we needed to give more love to the slashers who love to finish in the rim. This meant expanding the tools to attack the basket.” With that in mind, NBA 2K23 kicks off with an upgraded Pro Stick, intended to give players more maneuverability in the paint.

Playing now: NBA 2K23: First Look Trailer

New emote combos like double throws and backspins are meant to provide shooting windows in tight spaces, when the defense closes in on you. Double Throw Gestures are used for Jump Layups, while Back Gestures are used for Euro-Step and Cradle Layups.

The 2K team is also very excited about a new physics-driven rim-hanging mechanic, which allows you to go ultra-flashy at the end of a dunk. You might think this is more of a celebration than an actual game, and you’d be right, but it also suggests that the guiding light of the game is to inspire the paint beasts to reclaim their territory.

When you’re hanging from the hoop, the left and right control sticks correspond to one hand, allowing you to freestyle after a score. The 2K team said they’ve been working on this technology for a few years and everyone is excited to bring it to light with 2K23.

The team mentioned Giannis Antetokounmpo several times in the hour-long game presentation, noting that it’s his aggressive, cutting style of play that has largely inspired this year’s offensive changes. More player-to-player contact is meant to promote that sense of paint ownership as the more dominant player prevails.

The game’s ball-handling combos are also expanding, with the entire list of mobile Crossovers nearly doubling from last year’s game, from 15 to 28 options. The new Pro Stick emotes diversify each player’s “handles” and are intended to put more control of the ball in players’ hands, which should help separate the decent players from the greats.

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The game not only enhances players driving to the basket, but also weakens shots in general by giving it various realistic overtones. This begins with applying new shot stats to each signature jump shot, including shot speed, shot height, defensive immunity – how effective the shot is when contested, and impact at the time. “Since the inception of signature jump shots in 2K basketball, the animations have been roughly aesthetic but functionally the same,” said Wang. “This year, each signature jump shot has unique shot stats that help determine its effectiveness”.

20 more shot meters are coming to the game, including five at launch and 15 that will drop as unlockables later this season. This comes in response to different pockets of the 2K community vocally wanting a shot meter or another from past iterations of NBA 2K. Much like MLB The Show, it looks like NBA 2K will give players multiple methods to choose from and let them choose which one they like best.

A diverse list of shot meters should give players more control over how the game feels in their hands.

However, it’s not all about the offense. On defense, shot blocking has been adjusted to better reflect reality. “No more small guards making LeBron James-level chase blocks like last year,” the team said. Steals and turnovers also got a boost, so smaller defenders don’t have to get trampled by big guys who can’t block. Now they can reach the cookie jar more reliably.

The badge system has also been heavily revised. Wang said the team used telemetry data to detect the badges that were used the least and either removed them or incorporated their features into other pre-existing badges. On top of that, several new badges have made their way to the game, including the Antetokounmpo-inspired Bully Badge, which allows you to bulldoze through traffic and finish the game with your dominant force. We’ll have separate, more comprehensive coverage of the new NBA 2K23 badges coming soon, and we’ll include a link to that coverage here, so stay tuned.

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We’ll be sharing much more about NBA 2K23 throughout the month, including coverage of the returning Jordan Challenge, new additions to The City, and deep dives on MyTeam and MyPlayer. Keep an eye out for them as we get closer to the release of NBA 2K23 on September 8.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a portion of the proceeds if you purchase something featured on our site.

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