NBA 2K22 Review

September 16, 2021

2K and Visual Concepts are back with a bang this year, bringing NBA 2K22 further into the new generation of gaming, just ten months after NBA 2K21 launched alongside the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Last year’s NBA 2K21 was a blended next-gen upgrade that played well, but now that Visual Concepts has had more time to better utilise the new technology, we’re beginning to see some of their efforts come to fruition. With a whole city to explore in MyCareer, new and revamped game modes, a new fatigue system that greatly affects shot accuracy, and tweaks to basically every part of the core gameplay, NBA 2K22 makes some big changes to the franchise, but they might not be the changes on everyone’s wishlist.

NBA 2K22 Review

From the moment you hit the main menu, it becomes very obvious that Visual Concepts want you to get stuck into the MyCAREER and MyTEAM modes, so let’s take a look at what else the game has to offer before we visit those modes. PLAYNOW, MyNBA, MyWNBA, and the Features menu are all packed full of singleplayer, multiplayer and online modes that basketball fans can spend hours enjoying. Jumping into the PLAYNOW menu gives you the classic Quick Play mode, NBA Today where you can play any games that are occurring in real life on that specific day, PLAYNOW Online, 2KU training mode, and the street-cred fast-paced game mode known as Blacktop. There’s plenty of variety across these modes, and players can dive into the settings to adjust difficulty sliders and rules to make practically any time of basketball game that they desire which makes for some great classic games, as well as some over-the-top street games.

This year, Visual Concepts have revamped much of the gameplay, offering new systems for shot contests, body-up, blocking and steals, while dribbling and shooting have also slightly changed, with a new focus on how fatigued players are. This means you can no longer just be an army of one, and now have to utilise your team-mates more than ever to line up the best shot. On the plus side, the game rewards you for handing the ball off to a less fatigued player, and once you understand the new – more realistic – system, you’ll be shooting 3’s and dunking left, right and centre.

NBA 2K22

MyNBA and MyWNBA are exclusive to PS5 and XBX, and are just as customisable as the PLAYNOW mode, allowing players to jump into a preset season or create your very own fantasy league with 12-36 teams. Players can then share their MyNBA setups and scenarios with others online, meaning all your hard creative work won’t be just for you anymore. The last option to find in the MyNBA menu is also the last part of an NBA season – the playoffs. Fans can customise their own playoffs if you want to skip the season and get straight to that finals action. The W mode is back, an exclusive to MyWNBA and allows you to build your own female MyPLAYER and essentially have a different kind of career to the MyCAREER mode. While there’s no neighbourhood or city to explore, The W is a more text-based career mode giving you many of the options of MyCAREER but with a more simulated approach.

MyCAREER is where you will find the bulk amount of NBA 2K22’s content, and each year Visual Concepts expands on it making the journey longer, more diverse, and just all-round better. This year the generations of gaming are split between The Neighbourhood (PS4/XB1/PC/Switch) and The City (XBX/PS5). While The Neighbourhood sends you out on an eternal cruise on-board a giant ocean liner filled with entertainment, nobody can deny that The City is the premiere location, and we’ll get more into that shortly. MyCAREER brings you from teenage internet fame to college basketball to the NBA league using a story which feels familiar yet is entirely new. You’re ‘MP’, a created character which you get to define every step of the way on the road to ultimate fame and success in the NBA.

The City is a brand new open-world area to explore, only available on the new generation Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 consoles. The map is split into four districts and filled with both real players and NPC’s, some of which are able to be interacted with for quests or for shopping. Hanging out in The City is all about showing off, and 2K is making sure that there are plenty of unique ways to stand out from the crowd, such as using scooters and other modes of transport, getting radical haircuts, exclusive emotes, or even pulling out your own DJ kit to drop some street tunes. We did love the fact that you can just get a basketball out and dribble your way down the sidewalk, though there’s still plenty of teething issues to sort out if 2K wants people to hang in The City for extended periods.

The MyCAREER mode has a deep narrative this year that explores the various choices a professional basketball player must make throughout their career. Everything from arguing with agents, coaches and the media to endorsements and sponsorships, the choices are yours and in NBA 2K22 a lot of them come in the form of quests. The in-game MyCAREER menu is packed with options allowing you to simulate a lot of it if you just want to play ball, but also providing you with everything you need to really get stuck into the atmosphere of The City. The underlying “Buy VC to boost your character” vibe is still there, but it’s not pushed heavily, and the grind doesn’t seem as bad this year, probably due to gaining VC through other avenues like quest rewards.

MyTEAM mode builds on many years of work to bring the best digital basketball card game experience you would want. MyTEAM is so big now that it has its own Twitter account with 1.5 million followers, and this year changes include a new ‘The 100’ online mode, Event and Holo Player Cards, and a Shoe Lab which is separate to the shoe creator in the features menu. Each season lasts just six weeks, meaning there’ll be plenty of content to earn in MyTEAM mode throughout the year. Whether it’s worth spending money on these digital trading cards for them to become superseded each year remains a mystery, but no one can deny the popularity of this game mode, and Visual Concepts continue to do an amazing job in making it as engaging as possible.

While there’s no denying that NBA 2K22 looks stunning in 4K on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, we can’t help but wonder how much better it would look if Visual Concepts focused entirely on the new generation. The on-court action looks great, with new animations and ball movement techniques making it look even more realistic. The stadiums look fantastic with crowd participation still on the rise. We’re excited to see how the NBA 2K franchise will look towards the end of this new generation of gaming given it already looks great. There’s still a bit of work to be done on character models in MyCAREER, and who knows what changes they’ll make to MyTEAM given they’re just trading cards, but we’ll definitely be hanging for the first game that’s launched purely on this generation.

As always, the beats in NBA 2K22 are killer and do a great job maintaining the vibe of the game. There’s plenty of voice acting throughout MyCAREER, and while the commentary is generally on-point in most of the game modes, it was a bit hit and miss for poor M.P. Often in games where our created character performed quite well, he’d still be getting a bad rap from the commentary team. Whether this was just an intentional part of the career development or poor programming, it did leave us feeling a bit disassociated when the character had an A rating but the commentators were practically sledging M.P. for performing poorly.

While the new generation upgrades are well and truly cementing themselves into the NBA 2K franchise, we can’t help but feel like there are many more to come and perhaps this year the changes introduced for the new consoles have been trickle-fed instead of pumped through. The City is exactly what we had always hoped that The Neighbourhood would become, though it still needs some parts of it to be smoothed out. There’s plenty of content in NBA 2K22 to keep fans going until next year, nonetheless, we can’t wait to see what Visual Concepts does next with the 2K franchise.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed NBA 2K22 on PlayStation 5 with review code provided by the publisher. NBA 2K22 is also available on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, and previous generation consoles. For more information, head to the official website.


- Packed full of different game modes
- The new open-world city is fun to explore
- Integration between open-world and playing on court is done well
- Ball and handling mechanics are better than ever.


- The franchise still has one foot stuck in last-gen
- Online latency issues can make some shooting and free throws almost impossible
- NPC character models still need work, as does the MyCAREER commentary.

Overall Score: