According to the early reviews, 2K Sports has another hit on its hands with the release of NBA 2K18.
The Kyrie Irving-led effort, backed by Shaquille O'Neal and DeMar DeRozan on other editions, features countless upgrades to the tried-and-true system alongside bold innovations sure to give users a newfound longevity to the annual installment.
The latest innovations vary, with MyGM: The Next Chapter sitting as one of the top new features. The expansion upon a strong base, MyGM mode takes users behind the scenes of a franchise and tasks them with making all the tough calls, which for a sports game like this, is a first.
Also of note is the new "Neighborhood" feature. Video games are all about open worlds right now, though the fact this feature acts as an open-world hub is a big deal considering Take Two is the parent company of both 2K Sports and a company by the name of Rockstar Games, the folks responsible for Grand Theft Auto.
These new highlights, paired with already-strong gameplay and newfound depth such as adding things detailed in the new collective bargaining agreement, help explain why the early notable reviews have been positive, with Metacritic giving the game an 87.
Trusted Reviews: 90
Sporting News: 90
Critics like the game for obvious reasons.
But what about the players?
For most of the guys who see their likeness used in a video game played by millions around the world, the discussion comes down to two things—their appearance and player rating.
Take a recent reaction by Dwyane Wade:
My face says it all haha. Here's the overall rating for @KingJames and I for 17-18 season @NBA2K @Ronnie2K #NBA2K18 #2kFirstLook https://t.co/yuumLI1vdi2017-8-15 22:44:51
Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley commented on his rating and appearance:
Mike Conley @mconley11
Apparently my 87 rating gets you every bucket, pass, crossover, and great hair 😏 @NBA2K @Ronnie2K #justsayin #tunnelvision https://t.co/GFQ21aeAG52017-9-6 20:27:51
LeBron James? He's ready to roll:
LeBron James @KingJames
Man this the coldest trailer I've ever seen for a sports game in history! Got me hype to not only play the game but actually hoop real life! https://t.co/Yzf1AnVklG2017-9-16 06:01:09
Most of the conversation centers on the ratings more than anything else, however.
Here's what Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. told Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype: "Guys look at what other players around the league are rated and sometimes think they're wrong or that they should be lower [than their own rating]."
Rising star Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz is a case in point:
Rudy Gobert @rudygobert27
Shoutout to @Ronnie2K for my #2KFirstLook screen. A little low as usual but started from a 52 so we good 😏. What you guys think? https://t.co/pDqH6kCa7k2017-8-17 22:08:37
After a breakout season, Dion Waiters is another player who has openly campaigned for a better rating, right to the man himself:
@Ronnie2K be disrespecting me having a lot of ppl rated higher then me 🤦🏾♂️RT @AlvinM_: @dionwaiters3 2k need to up your rating asap 💪🏽2017-7-17 04:45:24
Speaking of going to the man himself, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall did just that in a not-so-nice way:
John Wall @JohnWall
@Ronnie2K u a joke !!2017-8-4 19:41:42
Don't forget Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid:
Joel Embiid @JoelEmbiid
My Durability rating must've not allowed my 2k rating to be at least 95🤔🤔!!!! Gotta work on that #TheProcess2017-7-18 00:00:32
It isn't hard to figure out why players care about the ratings more than anything else. One, 2K has had the gameplay and depth of the simulation aspects down pat for years. Two, this is a newer generation of players who actually grew up with the game, making their rating a big deal.
Though not every superstar is as bothered as others.
"Honestly, I really don't care," Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers told Kennedy. "I've become less and less consumed with the credit that I'm given. I think 89 is a solid rating. But I should be up there with the best at my position."
The beauty of the rating system, at least, is not only the discussion it drives here—but how it adapts to the on-court play over the course of a season. Players upset about an initial rating have yet another reason to go out and post monster numbers while winning games.
We've noted the top players at each position already. It will change as the season progresses, with some obvious names already on the hunt to prove themselves right out of the gate. Until tipoff, fans can turn to another well-reviewed edition of the 2K series to simulate what might occur.