NBA 2K20, from developer Visual Concepts, arrives September 6 and offers one of the biggest new features ever seen in a basketball video game: the WNBA.
That one feature isn't the only upgrade for the annual series published by 2K Sports, though. The early-September release is the follow-up on a successful 2K19 offering (82 on Metacritic) that made big strides in gameplay and through simple quality tweaks in its almost overwhelming number of modes.
But given the repeated successes of the series, it is understandable that the groundswell of hype has started up once again.
Here's a look at some of the new features that should have reviewers and players happy.
This historic moment was always going to be at the forefront of 2K20.
All 12 WNBA teams and their players will be included both in pickup games and season mode, and best of all, they sport their own custom animations to reflect the on-court product. It wouldn't be a simulation in the way the 2K series tries to be if it didn't.
Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker is one of many players to have their faces scanned into the game and come away impressed with what they have seen, according to NBA.com.
"I was amazed at how 2K is able to replicate women's basketball at such a realistic level," she said. "You can tell they are taking the time to capture the essence of the WNBA and have created an immersive experience that all fans of basketball will love."
This is a major win on countless levels. Specific to NBA 2K20, it is another step in the all-encompassing nature of the franchise. Difficulty modifiers, game-mode variety, ease of access and more have helped promote to as wide of an audience as possible.
The WNBA feels like the next organic step in this pursuit, with the league and players who pick up a copy both benefiting.
It wouldn't be an annual offering in the 2K series without an extensive look into the details of the on-court action.
One of the big criticisms leveled at the series since the creation of a new motion engine a few years ago was the feeling players were skating all over the floor. At times, the stamina bar and realistic speeds didn't seem to equate in the way it should.
For gameplay director Mike Wang, that has been a big focus this year, per Game Informer's Matt Bertz.
"Some of the advances that you'll immediately see and feel when you pick up NBA 2K20 are better foot planting, momentum modeling and motion-style variation," Wang said.
This pursuit to differentiate players based on real-world habits and abilities also happens in the form of new dribbling abilities. To help stem the tide favoring one end of the court more than the other (something all sports games struggle with), new displays underneath a ball-handler will provide the player with information about whether a steal attempt is a good idea.
Fan feedback is a big part of the developmental process, too, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear one of the most requested features has made a return: off-ball moves.
Wang wrote about the juke moves in a blog post: "With simple Pro Stick gestures, players have access to fake first steps, spins and stutters that you can chain together or immediately branch out of to perform flare cuts, dive to the hoop or spot up for open J’s. The moves are also broken down into three levels to separate elite off-ball players from the rest."
Over the years, off-ball play was something that seemed to get passed over a bit, which obviously conflicted with the game's pursuit of being the best simulation possible. That it is returning now with the new motion system sorted out after a few years is a welcome sign of the all-around game improving.
Based on some of the top items becoming public already, it is clear the latest offering from 2K Sports is once again staying on the offensive as opposed to resting on its successes.
Innovation, acting on feedback and moving more toward a better reflection of the real sport is a worthwhile endeavor, so how it all comes together on September 6 should be thrilling to see.