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NBA 2K19: How Fortnite has helped shape this year’s game

Although it may be some time before we see Battle Royale in NBA

Battle Royale mode won’t be coming to NBA2K19 – but that’s not to say Fortnite hasn’t influenced this year’s game.

Having worked on basketball games for a number of years now, gameplay director Mike Wang keeps a close eye on what other titles are doing and what’s popular in gaming and pop culture.

Dream Team Gaming attended an exclusive preview event in Los Angeles

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Dream Team Gaming attended an exclusive preview event in Los Angeles

“Fortnite is an example of a game where the celebrations have worked really well,” Wang said.

“We have bought that over into 2K19 on a much bigger level.”

We recently got a chance to get hands-on with the new game in Los Angeles – here’s what we learned.

A crushing blow was dealt to my ego after this defeat to Wang

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A crushing blow was dealt to my ego after this defeat to Wang

Preview perfect

Before we kick off, it’s worth noting preview version wasn’t anywhere near what the final product is going to look like.

Wang told us the final version of the game wouldn’t be ready for another month or so.

More changes were planned to fix some of the issues around:

  • The 2K18 commentators
  • The halftime show was receiving further developments
  • Some players dialogues hadn’t been fully developed
  • Some minor clipping issues (where players pass through each other)

We played four games and managed to get a taste for the new mechanics, visuals and features.

Graphically the new NBA game has improved since last year

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Graphically the new NBA game has improved since last year

Gameplay impressions

The preview would only allow us to play as either the Lakers or the Warriors.

The gameplay was smooth and fluid, with little-to-no delay between passing, shooting and defending.

Wang explained a new feature is ‘the Takeover system’ whereby players can become ‘on fire’ by performing one of seven different archetypes consistently well.

LeBron James is the cover athlete for the Anniversary Edition of the game

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LeBron James is the cover athlete for the Anniversary Edition of the game

This is illustrated by a flame symbol appearing under the player.

If a player performs consistently poorly they will dip into a cold streak, which isn’t great for the rest of the team.

Celebrations from players and the crowd look greatly improved in 2K19, with celebrity cameos said to be making an appearance.

Players are brought in for a face scan and wear motion detecting suits to mimic their style of play for 2K19

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Players are brought in for a face scan and wear motion detecting suits to mimic their style of play for 2K19

Graphics and features

The popular face scan feature returns – not only for players but for celebs and YouTube stars too.

The graphics have improved from 2K18, with the half-time and post-match interviews featuring differing movements and speeches depending on the player.

Lighting and shadow effects were particularly impressive – arguably more so than the likes of FIFA and PES.

PES 2019 graphics are insane but NBA2K’s faces are arguably more realistic

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PES 2019 graphics are insane but NBA2K’s faces are arguably more realistic

Esports and streaming

We also spoke to Wang about the current state of the NBA 2K League (the esports league for the game) which launched in 2017.

“The league is fairly new and in order to form these teams players competed online and were drafted by the basketball orgs.”

Wang went on to say that in this day and age the pro players and top-tier streamers have a lot of influence over the NBA 2K player base.

“These guys play hours and hours of the game a day, we definitely listen to them when it comes to making changes and patching issues.”

The NBA 2K League is building in popularity

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The NBA 2K League is building in popularity

Wang continued, noting that YouTubers and streamers have changed the way games are being developed and marketed.

“Developers are able to listen to their community more and more and we now have the ability to make changes post-launch.”

I left the preview event feeling that NBA2K19 was a real team effort – not only from the talented developers coding the game, but from the passionate community who push 2K to develop and build on their winning formula year on year.

NBA 2K19 is out on September 11 on Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.