A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Collaboration, teamwork, becoming a leader and inevitably a champion is the point of the MyCareer mode, while winning games and championships is the point of the other gameplay modes. In MyCareer, you're positioned as an underdog trying to win over the fans of your town, which takes a ton of work to accomplish, but the perseverance it takes to complete this goal is rewarded over time.
Positive Role Models
Players can choose to be self or team focused, but the impact of the decisions in MyCareer only partially affects the dialogue choices. Regardless of the option selected, players are positioned as more positive than your rival, whose egotistical videos and comments position him as the clear villain to hate. Your advisors may bicker over the approach of how to accomplish your goals, but they want you to succeed. Otherwise, most NBA and WNBA players that are presented are positive role models trying to make a difference in their community.
Players can make athletes of various heights, body sizes, and ethnicities. They can also choose whether they're making a WNBA or NBA player, depending on the game mode. Players will interact with everyone from teenage influencers to coaches, musicians to older businessmen, each with their own goals and plans in the league and the City.
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Ease of Play
There are multiple difficulty levels for players to This year's new shooting mechanics makes it easier to make shots, but it still requires plenty of practice to get the timing down. Even still, players will need to make sure that their release is perfect, they're not being contested, and their release is perfect (and even then, a shot could miss). Substantial investment in badges and boosting player stats for MyCareer is also needed to be successful on neighborhood courts or arena floors, because other players will move faster, jump higher, or simply push underpowered athletes around. Running plays and directing teammates to open areas for passes is more important than before.
Violence & Scariness
Players can commit fouls on other players, but there's no blood, gore, or injuries shown.
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Online play is ummoderated, possibly exposing players to inappropriate comments from competitors.
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Products & Purchases
This is the latest installment of the wildly popular basketball franchise, which has inspired a separate esports league and has a massive impact in the basketball community. While you can earn in-game credits by playing matches, there's a heavy push for purchasing stat boosts, stat enhancements, and characters for your MyTeam fantasy team, all of which can cost additional money. There are multiple versions of the game, each with various amounts of in-game currency provided, all of which sell at various price points. On top of that, arenas and jerseys frequently display brand names, and plot points in the My Career mode drive you to gain endorsement deals with Kia, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, and others, which feel like tailored and promoted commercials when they're frequently referenced during games. Jake from State Farm returns, along with streamer Dr. Disrespect and musician J. Cole as pitch people for projects.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NBA 2K23 is a basketball simulation for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. This is the latest chapter in the long-running basketball franchise, which tries to present an all-encompassing approach to both the NBA and WNBA game. No inappropriate content can be found in the game, which includes censoring song lyrics, but unmoderated online play could expose players to inappropriate comments from opponents. Like previous year's versions of the game, there's a ton of promotion of real-world products, such as Kia, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Mobil 1, Converse, and other brands during on-court sessions, whether it's mentioned by announcers or seen as part of replays. These brans extend to arenas, jerseys, and billboards, and are a large portion of the MyCareer mode. There's also a substantial push for spending real-world cash to boost the stats of your created player, whether it's enhancing their attributes or getting game-specific energy increases. "Jake from State Farm," who debuted in last year's game as a mission giver, returns again this year, along with musician J. Cole and streamer Dr. Disrespect, to promote various projects. In-game currency can be earned by playing games, but there's a hefty push to spend money for stats and players for your created MyTeam. The multiple versions of the game provide varying levels of currency for these games. The game comes with multiple difficulty levels so players can find the setting that matches their skill level, and while there's a new shooting mechanic that gauges your release, along with the possible proximity of opponents, it still requires significant stats for a player, as well as practice to be reasonably sure that a shot will successfully go in the basket. Even with significant work on the court, it's still easy to miss wide open shots or layups more than you'd expect professional players to do.
Is It Any Good?
While the gameplay in this year's title is much cleaner and more responsive than before, the large number of bugs and expanded reliance on microtransactions takes some of the air out of the ball. Last year, NBA 2K23 tried to build on the gameplay by making defense the star of the court. This year, it's the offense's turn, with more Pro Stick skill moves and dribbles, and the option to now dunk and hang on the rim to add a little extra buzz to a slam. You're not allowed to constantly sprint any more thanks to a new adrenaline meter that gives you limited boosts of energy during a possession, like at the start of a steal or as you're approaching the bucket at the end of a fast break. It makes sense and feels more realistic, especially with players that are trying to max their minutes on the court and still have a bit more in the tank for the end of the game. Even the controversial shot mechanics have been redone once again, with more accuracy being paid to the release of the ball at the top of the jump. While this eases some of the shot meter issues (along with gaining new meters to suit a player's preferences), it's also opens up multiple problems. For one thing, created players for either the NBA or WNBA that haven't boosted their stats through the use of microtransactions, in-game currency, and the badges that come with elevated specs will find that their shots are virtually worthless. Either you'll brick off the rim or miss entirely, which means that significant investments of time and more frequently, real money, are necessary to make your players useful on any court. Secondly, even with this investment, you'll need to work on your shot timing, get an open look at the basket, and more often than not, luck during game time, but even then, a defender can render all of this useless with their proximity to your player as a shot's made. It can be infuriating to watch Devin Booker or Steph Curry take a screen, get an open look, yet still brick a shot they'd make in their sleep. It's not every shot, but it will annoy you when it happens.
Past some of these gameplay issues, there's a lot to love with NBA 2K23. The Jordan Challenge by itself is worth the price of admission, and could be a separate game by itself. With the 30 for 30-esque interviews and the broadcast presentations that feel lifted from classic VHS tapes, this mode is a love letter to both Jordan's impact on the sport, and to basketball fans in general. This has been extended to the NBA Eras mode, which feels invigorated due to its era windowed play. Want to make sure that Len Bias, Trajan Langdon, or Greg Oden aren't busts, teams don't move from their markets, or the league is expanded? All of it can be handled here, with play-by-play commentary, courts, uniforms, and broadcast visuals that evoke that time period perfectly. If you haven't checked out the franchise mode for a while, this is the year to dive back in – it's excellent, especially in picking up on some of the changes to the sport, like the tighter low post bully ball play of the 80s versus the three-point driven league of today. And while Myteam is still a large driver of microtransactions as you try to acquire the best players of today and yesterday, there's still a lot to be praised with the tweaks added to this mode, such as the addition of exhibition matches to let cards that aren't in your rotation earn you rewards. It's nice to see this be built off the grading system that was included in last year's title. And the removal of contracts (which were always a waste of time) and the inclusion of prize balls for bonus cards and single player clutch time means that if you're willing to put in the grind, you can probably earn the team you want. Another notable adjustment with this year's MyCareer is the approach to the story – it's great to have a blatant underdog story with the perspective that everyone, including your new team's fans, hate you, and you have to win them over to be considered a success. That adds a lot of motivation and a large chip on your shoulder at the start knowing that you're so hated, but it feels like it could've gone farther. The "villain" of the mode, Shep Owens, basically gets to pop off without any significant repercussions happening to him, and similarly, whether you choose to be an ego-driven Trailblazer or team focused General, there's only minor deviations to how the plot plays out. It's still one of the better stories that's been provided to this mode in years, but it could be deeper. Similarly, the City, the partially open-world environment, is deep enough that players should be able to have either an NBA or WBNA character go through this space and have their own story. But that brings up one of the last issues, which is that there are still a lot of bugs that crop up during sessions on and off the court. Whether it's camera angles that get stuck in character's heads, skateboards that disappear, missions that constantly crash, or scores and momentum meters that disappear during matches on the court, there's a lot of bugs that stand out like sore thumbs, because they're clearly built on the back of older versions of the game. If you look pact the tech flaws and increased microtransaction reliance, NBA 2K23 presents the most evolved version of basketball ever presented, and hoops fans will love stepping on the court once again this year.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.