NBA 2K24 improves player onboarding and has never looked so good but microtransactions are getting real ugly

If there’s one word being thrown about a bit too much these days, it’s GOAT.

No, not a farm animal, but the greatest of all time in any chosen profession. In football, it’s considered a toss-up between Messi and Ronaldo. Tennis, many say it’s Roger Federer or Rafa Nadal but Novak Djokovic may have something to say about that before his career is over.

As for Basketball, well, there’s a few people in that conversation. Michael Jordan. Shaquielle O’Neill, LeBron James and the cover star for NBA 2k24, Kobe Bryant. Maybe more.

And as soon as you fire up the game, 2K really want you to think hard about that question but also to aspire to it. In this years’ career mode, for instance, your very first match as a rookie you’re being groomed to be the GOAT because your dad and grandad were great and pundits are looking to compare your first match to some of the aforementioned legends.

No pressure, right?

So, there’s definitely a theme to this year’s game. In past NBA titles, you’ve often been building your way up through the rookie leagues to get your big break, but here you’ve got heritage and a name to represent.

Even in the game’s unique Mamba Moments – a selection of matches from Kobe Bryant’s career – you’re looking to replicate those performances and match his success. The concept is a wonderful throwback for fans and the presentation that 2K have put together is truly incredible and very well representative of what you would have seen on TV.

The commentary has a retro spin as they talk about inside scoops on what Kobe’s been up to, the set up is a lot like classic NBA matches, and the parallels are clear for all to see. It’s as close as you’ll ever feel to being there, unless you were actually there.

Furthering the retro theme, Career mode even lets you play as MP’s (that’s your player) dad and grandad in key matches during their time in the sport. To give you that sense of authenticity, 2k have done an immaculate job with filters, hairstyles, even court layout to really give you a throwback retro feel.

The differences are just staggering compared to when you’re wading through a normal game with all the halftime activities, the little commentary shows, all the statistics that get thrown up. 2K have smartly distanced away from all of that to make you feel like you’re playing an entirely different game within a game. In fact, it almost feels a bit like NBA Jam, and it makes the modern game feel more slower paced.

So, yes, this game is about respecting the history of Basketball but also in paving the way for the future. Throughout your campaign, there’ll be various talk show hosts talking up the rookies with big futures, but also looking at current players and how they’re making that progress.

For me, this has been my favourite year yet. You can wander around The City, which seems to get bigger and better each year, but I often just hung out at the arena, hanging back in the locker room for scrums, doing press conferences, hanging out at the practice courts and doing my exercise. Heck, I even spent time going through my video messages from greats of the sport, some giving me pep talks, some giving me props, some saying I may not be living up to the hype.

The thing that always impresses me is how slick everything feels. It’s crisp, well honed, even from the little halftime shows with the dancing, singing the American national anthem and a woman juggling while on a unicycle. This game just gets basketball, sometimes a little too much, but 2K have also done a better job of onboarding players who’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by stats, player breakdowns and how to keep your nose clean out on the court.

All this to say, the presentation of NBA games is second to none. From the response of the fans as you come out on court, to the lighting, the way managers look between points, the reactions of players on the court, even the press when they ask questions. By this point, it is clear and obvious to anyone that 2K love making Basketball games and they’re damn good at it. I mean, hell, there’s a weekly show on the damn menu screen for goodness sakes.

NBA 2K also remains the quality standard for graphics. Games are trying so hard across the board to be recognised as game-changers for this generation, but I still haven’t seen any look as realistic as these basketballers. From the beads of sweat, to the animations, the flow of movement, it continues to blow me away how good this game looks in 4K.

This year, in particular, has really captured that fast-feeling and flow on the court with ProPlay and you can see it from the player mannerisms, to the way they dance around opponents, the movement with the ball. It is hyper realistic and I feel like every year it’s getting harder to differentiate this from reality. Though I did find some odd hiccups when transitioning between scenes and skips in some of video.

Also, there really needs to be a fast forward through the match filler because sometime you just want to get to the action, you know?

But it’s not all aesthetics. As with all years, there’s a ton of content between the career mode, MyTeam, the aforementioned Mamba Moments, but also WNBA, NBAEras and the Seasonal challenges.

And yet the biggest thing 2K have achieved is the player onboarding. I’ll confess, there’s been times in previous NBA games where I’ve felt a bit lost and frustrated because I don’t know how to time my shots, I’m feeling very one-dimensional and don’t know what I need to be doing, but this year through coaching, tutorials and proper on screen guides, I’m having a ball. Quite literally.

I’m pulling off moves I’ve never been able to before, I understand the nature of the game much better and for the first time I really want to explore, maximise my potential and see if I can actually be a GOAT.

No other NBA game has made me feel that, so kudos to the team for actually thinking about newer players as well as series vets who are already going to run hoops around me regardless.

All that said, microtransactions are still heavily prominent in the game and at this point there are people willing to pay the money needed to get ahead, while those who aren’t won’t be able to maximise their potential. You can understand the dilemna 2K are in here, on the one hand you want to be able to provide content for paying customers. And there are clearly many of them at this point.

On the other, for newer players who are migrating from career and looking to get into other modes, testing their skills against other players, it’s going to be super intimidating knowing they’ll probably never be a match unless they play many,many matches or are willing to shell out some cash. In particular, I’m looking at MyTeam – where you can buy cards with the Virtual Currency –  and the other activities within The City.

Additionally, with Seasons, there are two premium tiers which you can unlock – similar to games like Diablo 4 – so you can get all sorts of additional items on top of the ones that unlock for free.

On the surface, NBA 2K24 has a lot of content and the Career Mode is a ton of fun, as are Mamba Moments and even the WNBA, but when you want to get serious, exploring the online world and trying out some of the other modes, a whole new market opens up. And bare in mind, NBA 2K24 is not a cheap game in its own right. Let alone how much you can spend afterwards.

So, it’s a story of two halves, as is proving to be a familiar theme with these games. Being honest, I don’t see this changing. Actually, some might say this year is worse than ever. But on the other side, this is the most approachable NBA game I’ve played. Also the most enjoyable. And rightfully so as the series celebrates a 30 year anniversary.

It feels like much has been learned and you can see the results right here. Because as far as Basketball games go, NBA is unequivocally, the GOAT. But it does come attached with a heavy cost.


NBA 2K24 is the GOAT of Basketball Games. Time and again, 2K have proven that they are fantastic custodians of this license and have paid fantastic respect to legends of the sport, the presentation of the league, and have crafted a real feel of being right on top of the action between the roaring of the crowd and the halftime entertainment. It is easier than ever for new players to onboard, the ProPlay means NBA has never looked or felt better. Outside of a few minor technical hiccups, I have personally never enjoyed an NBA 2K more than 24. However, the microtransaction situation has arguably worsened, and it is harder than ever for those new players to break through or maximise their potential unless they’re willing to pay the price. With an additional two premium tiers on top of Seasons and the fact you can buy cards outright on MyTeam, you can easily spend more in game than on the game itself within a weekend. While this isn’t the only sports game out there that does it, at times NBA 2K24 feels among the worst. 


+ ProPlay makes sure this NBA has never looked, felt, or flowed better on and off the court
+ Onboarding for new players has been vastly improved
+ Career Mode is a lot of fun
+ Mamba Moments are presented wonderfully and are a fantastic homage to Kobe Bryant
+ Lots of great WNBA options


– Slight hiccups in transitions between scenes
– Some character models look a little off at times
– Microtransaction scene has got worse instead of better

NBA 2K24 is out now on PC, Switch, PS5 and Xbox

Code Kindly Provided by 2K for review purposes

Tested on Xbox Series X

About the author

Jay Jones

Jay is a massive football fan - Manchester Utd in case you were wondering - and lover of gaming. He'll play just about anything, but his vice is definitely Ultimate Team.
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