NBA 2K20 Review

September 14, 2019

NBA 2K20 Review

We’ve been reviewing the NBA 2K games here at Rocket Chainsaw for many years now, and each year we like to look at how it’s evolving and getting closer to realism. This year NBA 2K20 attempts to ‘redefine what’s possible in sports gaming’ and with new features like the WNBA, ball handling mechanics, facial animations and mannerisms, MyGM 2.0, and an all new Neighbourhood to explore, there are plenty of reasons to be excited.

NBA 2K20 has the same modes that we’re all used to. From the main menu, you can select Play Now, MyTEAM, MyCAREER, and MyLEAGUE. 2KTV is back again, this time with some on-going trivia which earns you VC every now and then. There’s also the usual host of features including customising Player DNA and the epic shoe creator which came in last year. The NBA 2K games have always been great with customisation options, and this year is no different.

NBA 2K20 Review

Play Now mode is where you can jump into Quick Play to play online, on the couch with friends, or practice drills in 2KU which was available in the NBA 2K20 demo. This year with the introduction of the WNBA, players will find plenty of new teams of women to use including all the big athletes that are making a name for themselves in the rising league.

MyTEAM has earnt 2K a bit of controversy this year with the trading card game copping plenty of slack for its gambling style of rewards and heavy push on buying in-game VC credits with real-world money. You have to look at MyTEAM the same as you do as real life when it comes to trading cards though, and buying a pack from your local newsagents is definitely not a form of gambling despite not knowing what cards you’re going to get when you open the pack. That said, MyTEAM mode has never really been anything more than a pretty basic trading card battle game, and unless you’re heavily in to NBA with all of its players and coaches, it’s unlikely you’ll buy NBA 2K20 for this mode alone.

NBA 2K20 Review

MyCAREER once again is where the lights shine the brightest for NBA 2K20. This year’s MyPLAYER creator is as customisable as ever, and you can now scan your face via the official app to import into the game. The prologue story “When the Lights are Brightest” is a tale of standing by your teammates through thick and thin as you make your way through the summer off-season and then the draft period. Some familiar faces are brought in to the cinematic (and lengthy) cut-scenes such as Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch, Hollywood star Idris Elba, and the amazing Rosario Dawson in what quickly shapes up to be a great story leading in to your actual career and access to the NBA 2K20 Neighbourhood.

The NBA 2K20 Neighbourhood is a large open courtyard area with various basketball courts, surrounded by shops and other activities. The gym is identical to previous years but still important for your MyPLAYER progression. You’ll find all the usual basketball styles around the neighbourhood such as pro-am and cages, so as we always say there’s a basketball style for everyone in NBA 2K20. 2K rewards you with checking in to the Neighbourhood every day by giving you a free wheelspin where you can win VC or boosts. There’s plenty to spend your VC on in NBA 2K20, and this year they’ve added more modes of transport that unlock as you level up your MyPLAYER. Reaching the elite ranks will unlock some pretty cool modes of transport such as a decked out trike and a hoverboard, though we did shudder at the pricing of some items and the fact that there really is a heavy push to purchase VC with real money if you want to get the most out of the game.

NBA 2K20 Review

A new feature to the gameplay this year is Team Takeover. As you play well during a game, making shots, holding your defense, etc, your Team Takeover meter will build. Once it maxes out, you can activate it to get some serious boosts as well as getting complete control over your team which can greatly affect your MyCAREER games, as well as other modes that allow the feature. It takes a bit of practice to make sure the Team Takeover meter builds quickly, but it’s something you’ll want to take advantage of.

The most impressive new feature of MyCAREER would have to be the player interviews that happen throughout the season. 2K has clearly worked tirelessly with the NBA superstars to ensure that not only their voices are used but also their facial expressions and mannerisms, which means that with today’s photorealistic faces you’d be forgiven if you didn’t realise it was a video game if you walked in during one of the half-time shows. Your MyPLAYER continues his story throughout the regular NBA 2K20 career as well, with post-game interviews, press conferences, and more which is great because this was the easiest way to build up VC in-game currency without spending real money.

NBA 2K20 Review

MyLEAGUE this year includes the WNBA as well as an overhauled MyGM mode. The mode is just as in-depth as it always has been, featuring an 80-year experience in the main MyLEAGUE mode, an online customisable league that your friends can join, as well as a typical season and the postseason NBA Playoffs. There’s plenty to do here, and with a full live season kicking off on October 22nd make sure you check back in MyLEAGUE mode throughout the year for ongoing roster updates.

All the typical multiplayer options are available once again in NBA 2K20 and really, it’s what separates it from a lot of other games on the market. Couch co-op sports games continue to sell well around the globe, and we expect plenty of people will pick up NBA 2K20 to play locally with friends. It seemed to take a little while to find a game, and we kind of wish the 2K servers were a bit more friendly to people that put their Xbox One in standby mode. It will be great once the game is able to keep you in your apartment or the Neighbourhood and simply reconnect you on the fly when you wake your Xbox up, like what Forza Horizon 4 is able to achieve with its lobbies.

NBA 2K20 Review

With no big graphics overhaul this year, NBA 2K20 looks and plays similarly to last year’s NBA 2K19. There are a couple of key gamechangers though, the first is in new facial animation tech that 2K is using for NBA superstar interviews and on-court antics as mentioned earlier. This helps add to the realism of the game, though it can be a bit hit and miss with moments of blank stares and awkward pauses that remind you that they are still AI. The other big change is the way the ball gets handled and passed around the court. This year, there are a bunch of new animations that help ball movement look as real as we’ve ever seen it, and it means we can confidently say that NBA 2K20 is the most realistic basketball game to date.

NBA 2K20 has launched with plenty of criticism from fans and non-fans alike. Its MyTEAM mode has been hit with plenty of criticism due to its slot-machine style gameplay that encourages spending real money on VC to speed things up. Looking past MyTEAM though, its other modes are fantastic as always. MyCAREER continues to supply us with an emotional story building up to the actual career, and this year the star-studded line-up made it just that little bit more entertaining. The NBA 2K20 Neighbourhood is better than ever and a great way to find players to hang out with and play basketball through any of the various modes. Each year we look at how the game is evolving, and this year NBA 2K20 pushes the boundaries just a little further on providing a realistic NBA basketball experience, it’s just a shame there’s an overwhelming amount of pressure to empty your bank account along the way.

We reviewed NBA 2K20 on an Xbox One X console. The game is also available on Windows PC via Steam, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, though Switch fans should be aware of the day 1 patch (for all platforms) which came in at 30GB. For more information head to the official NBA 2K20 website.


- MyCAREER is always a bundle of fun
- Plenty to do in the new Neighbourhood
- Online and couch play is where this game truly shines.


- MyTEAM’s blatant pay-to-win formula is insufferable
- No major graphical updates, environment textures are starting to look dated.

Overall Score: