MyCareer has been retooled to make your personal journey to the NBA more of an underdog tale, as well as giving you more freedom to do what you want off the court.
Though not all sports gamers value things like story-based career modes, their increasing ubiquity suggests that many of them do. NBA 2K18 builds upon the foundation laid down by its predecessor in its MyCareer mode, except this time making the NBA is a lot more of a redemption story.
It’s also well-written in the way there’s no info dump and you have to piece together the background of your character, nicknamed DJ for the way he gave up a promising basketball career to pursue music. Now back to concentrating on ball, he manages to turn some heads at a Jordan Brand streetball event, provided you impress in the showcase games there.
There are no spoilers involved in saying DJ gets a tryout with the NBA team of your choice and improbably makes the roster in the pro version of a college walk-on. This alone makes the NBA 2K18 MyCareer experience much different than last year, as you’re no big name rookie but someone who has to scrap for every minute he gets and make the most of them.
An impressive amount of cutscenes and content can get you lost in just the story, which even references the last game’s characters in a bit of meta-commentary on the best fictional ballers of all time. But there’s work to do too, as your goal is to back up your boast of making it onto an NBA 2K cover at some point by completing the “Road to 99” — as in a 99 overall rating.
Getting there requires practice with your NBA teammates and hitting the gym for training mini-games. There are the same demands on your time in terms of endorsements and hanging with real NBA stars that we saw before. But it’s much less linear now, as the introduction of an open world space called the Neighborhood allows you to wander into shops for new gear, take on other players in dunk contests and all kinds of activities between games.
You don’t even necessarily have to focus on the NBA, as the MyPark and ProAm modes are incorporated into MyCareer too. So whether you enjoy mostly solo play or are into NBA 2K18 for its esports aspects, there’s something in MyCareer for you.
As for where DJ’s story ends, it’s way too early in our playthrough to tell. There are some hints dropped that he may not have given up on all of his music ambitions, so maybe he has to make a big life choice at some point. In any case, MyCareer feels like an even bigger, better and more freeing experience than last year’s version, which was already pretty great. Prepare to get lost in your own hoops dreams for quite some time.
Disclosure: FanSided.com was provided with a complementary copy of NBA 2K18 for review purposes.