The gameplay director of NBA 2K21 has been talking about the next-gen version of the basketball franchise in the latest in a series of reports from the studio. There's a lot to unpack so let's get to it.
According to Wang, the gameplay aspect that benefits from the new hardware the most is on-court locomotion. Apparently, dribble movement has been rebuilt for next-gen and the difference "is night and day". Signature dribble styles have been retained but everything else was scrapped. We're told that movement is going to be more accurate and as "it's built using the same engine as the Pro Stick dribble move system, movement and moves work cohesively together." It also sounds like they've done a fair bit to improve realism off the ball and once the ball has been released by a player.
On top of that players can expect more realistic foot placement, updated movement that better reflects the type of player on the ball, and there's a greater emphasis on the back on forth between attacker and defender as they contest one-on-ones (or "body ups" as they're called internally). Another interesting change that could alter the visual dynamic of a match is the enhancements made to the off-ball contact system, which should mean more interesting things happening away from the ball-player. Wang also detailed a new in-air contact shot system that is designed to make a more fluid and dynamic experience, and promised revisions to on-ground contact, too.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the lengthy blog was the bit about the PS5 controller.
"For the adaptive triggers, we opted to use them to convey energy/fatigue," Wang explained. "As you move around the court, you'll feel more and more resistance on the Sprint trigger as your player's energy drains. We also use adaptive resistance in the post-game. Strong post players will feel very little resistance on L2 when backing down weaker opponents, but you'll have to use more force to pull L2 when it's the other way around."
"As for haptic feedback," he continued, "used it to accentuate our various collision systems. Boxouts, body-up rides, off-ball collisions/deny/rides... basically, any situation where players make significant contact will vibrate the controller at various intensities depending on the strength of the players involved and the severity of the impact. It's so dope to feel the difference in your hands between a grazing bump and hard hit. It's also a great reinforcement tool to understand when you're making players work too hard on the court, which could hit their energy/stamina levels and potentially cause wear-and-tear on their bodies with our in-depth injury system."
NBA 2K21 will be a launch title on PS5 and Xbox Series S/X next month, although those who picked up the Black Mamba edition of the base game have already lined up access as it includes both versions of the game (more on that can be found in the game's FAQ).
Finally, if you want to know how the series has held up this year, you'll find our review of the latest game (the old-gen version) right here.