5 All-New Gameplay Features in NBA 2K23 That Already Increased the Skill Gap

Throughout the last few years, NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang and some 2K devs have expressed a need to put more emphasis on increasing the skill gap in the NBA 2K series. Did the gameplay team deliver for NBA 2K23? So far, with the announcement of new gameplay features that are backed in basketball realism, the gameplay changes look promising and we’ve got to give credit to 2K for stepping up their dedication to simulation basketball.

Generally, “skill gap” refers to the difference in skill level between elite players and average players. A wider skill gap requires more skill to play at the competitive or advanced level, usually from mastering the mechanics, “meta”, and IQ of the game. With the NBA 2K series continuing to evolve as a legitimate esport title with the NBA 2K League and other ventures, where sometimes six-figure money is on the line, having a skill gap is more relevant than ever.

Here are 5 gameplay changes that are new to NBA 2K23 which should increase the skill gap:

1. Adrenaline Boosts

2K has introduced Adrenaline Boosts, which they said is a “new feature to prevent overdribbling”.

Here’s how 2K breaks down the new Adrenaline Boosts feature:

“There are three available boosts per player, per possession, shown as three small bars under the stamina meter. Boosts are consumed every time you perform a hard go or explosive sprint launch. Once your three boosts are gone, you’ll notice that your speed and acceleration decrease significantly for the remainder of the possession. As with dribble combos, it’s important to play smart basketball and be efficient with your movement rather than zig-zagging back and forth aimlessly trying to get around the defense.”

The introduction of Adrenaline Boosts into the NBA 2K series is a genuine game-changer, since it’s built directly into the gameplay framework – which should make it harder to “patch out” if some in the community start to complain about the dribbling difficulty. The gameplay side effects of this will likely be more passing and teamwork, less ball hogging and left-right dribble spamming, etc. – which should be a fresh and much-needed improvement to the existing comp ‘meta’ of the last few years. What remains to be seen, is how effective Adrenaline Boosts will be if a players has the Handles for Days Badge on gold or hall of fame, or if users will be able to bypass it in some way.

2. Shooting Attributes

Shooting was revamped in NBA 2K23 first with a vast amount of new jumpshots added, but mainly with the addition of “Shooting Attributes”. These include:

  • Shot Speed (how quickly a shot reaches the release point)
  • Release Height (a shot’s height when released)
  • Defensive Immunity (how well a shot performs in contests against defenders
  • Timing Impact (where shot windows are adjusted, providing a bigger penalty for badly timed shots but greater rewards for good timing).

In addition to that, each signature shot has its own unique shooting stats, which just adds more intricacies and strategy to the shooting equation. With these additions, gamers hoping to become sharpshooter in NBA 2K23 will have to factor in a lot more elements.

3. ‘Pass Target Openness’ Removed for Online

The ‘Pass Target Openness’ feature (found in Controller Settings) is a features that essentially automates pass decision-making by automatically passing to the most open player. With this removed for online multiplayer modes, this puts more of the court vision responsibility on the person behind the controller, which increases the skill gap for passing and authentic court vision.

4. Defensive Shading

The new defensive shading mechanic includes three bars on an indicator which represent three zones: Straight up, Shade left, and Shade right. The zone the defender’s in is shown in red. If the ball handler attempts to attack a red lane, they’ll get cut off, lose their dribble, or fumble the ball.

“Great defenders can anticipate where the ball handler is attacking and will now be more clearly rewarded for it. The shading system works for both on-ball defenders guarding the perimeter as well as the post and does a good job communicating to both the offense and defense why collisions resolve the way they do” according to 2K.

This may be an absolute game-changer for 1v1 interactions, as those with great defensive instincts and reactions will be rewarded, while those out of position or guess wrong, will be exposed.

5. Changes to Shot Meter Greens

To increase the skill gap, reactions to different actions on the court should be determined by user skill, not visual cues that tip them off of whether another teammate or opponent made the shot or dunk. Shot meter greens will now only light up when the shot is at the rim. Not only will this make rebounding more organic and amplify rebounding battles down low, but it will curb cherry-picking from knowing if the shot missed, as well.

What do you think of the new gameplay changes in NBA 2K23? Let us know in the 2K Community here!

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