The release of “NBA 2K21” is right around the corner, and we’ll be explaining everything you need to know about the basketball video game.
2K has emerged as the fan favorite video game for NBA fans over the past few years. In fact, 2K has such an edge over EA Sports’ NBA Live that there will be no NBA Live this year. 2K revolutionized sports video games with its in-depth MyCareer game mode, and we’ve seen other games copy a similar formula in recent years.
But while 2K has dominated the market, the video game makers also know they need to improve. So NBA 2K21 will have some new features and improved gameplay, which we’ll get into below. It’s also worth pointing out 2K will be available on the next-gen consoles when Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 release this holiday season.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into what you’ll get when you buy NBA 2K21.
NBA 2K21 release date
NBA 2K21 will be released on on September 4, 2020. The next-gen versions of the game will be released at launch along with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Microsoft and Sony have not yet announced official dates for either console release, but both are planned to debut in late November. When the new consoles are available, so will the release of the next-gen versions of NBA 2K21.
NBA 2K21 editions and price
There are technically four editions of NBA 2K21 this year. There is a Standard Edition and Mamba Forever Edition that go along with the current generation of consoles. And then there will be a Standard Edition and Mamba Forever Edition for the next-gen consoles. Each edition features its own unique cover. Damian Lillard will grace the Standard Edition on the current generation while Zion Williamson is featured on the Standard Edition of the next-gen version. Kobe Bryant is featured on both Mamba Forever Edition covers.
As for what you get with each edition, we’ll break that down below.
Standard Edition — Current Gen
What you get:
- Lillard MyTEAM Free Agent Card
- Custom Lillard MyPLAYER T-shirt
- Tissot Chrono XL NBA Watch for MyPLAYER
Mamba Forever Edition — Current Gen
What you get:
- 5 MyPLAYER Shoes
- 3 MyPLAYER Jerseys
- Black Mamba MyPLAYER Uniform
- Rookie Lakers MyTEAM Jerseys
- Black Mamba custom MyTEAM Jerseys
- Sapphire Kobe MyTEAM Card (Evos to Ruby)
- 5 MyTEAM Shoes (Incl. 1 Diamond)
You also receive the Damian Lillard Digital Collection in the Mamba Forever Edition.
Standard Edition — Next Gen
What you get:
- Zion MyTEAM Free Agent Card
- Zion New Orleans Pelicans MyPLAYER Jersey
- Zion MyPLAYER Dunk Animation Package
Mamba Forever Edition — next gen
What you get: Same as the current generation, except you get the Zion Williamson Digital Collection instead of the Damian Lillard Digital Collection.
How to upgrade NBA 2K21 to next gen
There’s good news and bad news for people who want to upgrade NBA 2K from the current generation to the next generation. The good news is it’s possible to do so without having to buy the game twice. The bad news is it’s not possible if you buy the Standard Edition. If you want to upgrade NBA 2K21 from the current generation to the next generation, you must buy the Mamba Forever Edition.
It’s also worth pointing out you can only upgrade to next gen if you stay within the console family (PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5 or Xbox one to Xbox Series X). You’ll also receive the Zion Williamson Digital Collection at no extra cost once you upgrade to the next gen version of the game. This offer is available through both physical copies of the game and digital copies.
Some additional bad news is your MyPLAYER Inventory and progress will not transfer in the next-gen switch.
You can find more information about the next gen switch on NBA 2K’s website.
NBA 2K21 covers
Damian Lillard will be the cover athlete on the current generation of consoles for the Standard Edition of the game. Zion Williamson will take over on the Standard Edition with the release of the next-gen games. Kobe Bryant is featured on both Mamba Forever Edition versions of the game, although he does get two distinct covers.
NBA 2K21 features, old and new
As of this writing, there hasn’t been much released about what’s new in NBA 2K21. Despite its release being less than a month away, very little has actually been revealed as to what we can expect. While nothing official has been said about this, my guess is the company focused a lot more on the next-gen versions that will release later in the year. And the next-gen versions is where you’ll see the true progress.
One rumored feature, however, is the ability to create a female player for MyCareer. We saw the introduction of the WNBA in NBA 2K20, but fans were upset there wasn’t an ability to further the women’s sport into MyCareer. NBA 2K has not confirmed this rumor, but did hint at more for WNBA fans.
“Well we didn’t want to unveil too much stuff today with new modes, but one thing I will say is that fans of the WNBA are going to be very excited for what we’re bringing to the table with next gen,” NBA 2K21 Gameplay Director Mike Wang said in a Q&A on NBA 2KTV.
As far as the features/game modes we can likely expect to see MyCareer, 2K Pro-Am, Playground, MyLeague, MyTeam, Blacktop and Play Now once again.
NBA 2K21 gameplay changes
In its Courtside Report update, 2K says cover star Damian Lillard made some suggestions to improve the game. For instance, your MyCareer player can now reach a maximum height of 6-8, an increase over previous years. Some additional minor updates were included in what 2K calls “fun-ifying” the game.
Another change is an improvement to the Pro Stick.
From NBA 2K:
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.
The video game company also says the Pro Stick improved jump shooting. One addition to shooting in 2K21 is Shot Stick Aiming. This was a feature in NBA 2K17, but the company improved on it based on user feedback.
When you shoot with the Pro Stick, the shot meter changes from a timing bar to a targeting system. So instead of trying to stop the shot meter when you reach the perfect release window, you adjust the Pro Stick in real time to hit the ideal center aim point.
The game also added in 40 new Park jump shot landings.
What console is NBA 2K21 available on?
NBA 2K21 will be available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch. You’ll also be able to play it on your PC through Steam. The video game will also be available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at launch when those consoles release.
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