Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC

Yes, it’s true, NBA 2K20 has microtransactions. If you haven’t been keeping up, it revolves around the game’s Virtual Currency (VC). VC is pretty much the backbone for two of NBA 2K20’s modes, MyTeam and MyCareer.

MyTeam is the game mode where players are able to build their fantasy NBA team with current and legendary players using packs, which are kind of like basketball and baseball cards. Each pack is randomized with players new and old, coaches, jerseys, contracts, and other items. These packs can be bought with in-game MT currency (which is only earned by playing MyTeam) and VC, which you can earn in other modes, but you can also buy with real money.

The problem most people are having is when it comes to the MyCareer mode, where you create a player and use VC to improve and increase his skills. VC is also used to buy gear, animated moves, and other items too. Again, VC can be earned by playing the game, but you can also buy VC with real cash, skip over the grind of improving your player, and take it online to play against other players. It’s a pay-to-win scheme that has caused fans to review bomb the game on Steam and Metacritic. Even worse, it’s more tempting than before. For a mere $2, you can get 5,000 VC. For $20, you can get 75,000 VC. You know how much you can do with 5,000 VC? Let alone, 75,000.

After I completed the pretty good MyCareer story mode, my player was drafted by the Denver Nuggets and thus the long rookie NBA season began. For the first few games, my player did not get any playing time, so he didn’t earn much VC. Luckily, the Legend Edition of NBA 2K20 I have came with 100,000 VC and I was able to boost my player from a mere 60 rating to an 80 rating, immediately.

Despite all this, NBA 2K20 is still pretty darn good.

Fundamentals

The gameplay is as smooth and slick as ever, and the player details have improved. While the 2K series has always put in a lot of work on making sure the players look like their real life counterparts, they continue to improve every year. Everything from doubling down on the details of player tattoos, to facial expressions, to every well-known player’s signature moves. Posting up against a player and setting screens in the game is the most realistic I’ve ever seen in a NBA 2K.

The controls are a bit simpler to handle for newcomers to the game, but it’s still all about timing. But even then, the game has an arcade like gameplay style for first timers and sim playstyle for veterans.

The same can be said about playing with WNBA players. Every WNBA team is represented in the game, along with their venues, and style of play. So, yeah, you can’t do monster dunks like players in the NBA can pull-off, the game play is still fun, still action-packed, and fundamental professional basketball.

You can go through a whole season playing with a WNBA team against other WNBA teams, but that’s pretty much it. There aren’t any WNBA players in MyTeam, WNBA teams aren’t featured in MyLeague or MyGM, and you can’t create a female character in MyCareer. At this point it’s understandable. It’s the game’s first year featuring the WNBA and hopefully if the league remains in future games, it will be a part of additional modes.

Modes

As previously explained MyTeam allows players to build and play as their fantasy NBA team featuring current and legendary players. Not much has changed from last year’s game except the addition for more legends to the game, and it’s just a lot of fun. There’s are daily and weekly challenges to participate and a cool Triple Threat Mode where you take your best three players and play them against another three best players.

MyCareer is solid as well. MyCareer’s solo narrative experience, “When the Lights are Brightest,” was produced by Springhill Entertainment, Lebron James’ entertainment company. While some folks may roll their eyes, the story of a college kid putting in the work to get drafted by an NBA team offers an insider’s perspective of the experience. The story also pinpoints controversial subjects like the way universities treats its student athletes and how pros navigate their businesses off the court versus the game – because nothing is guaranteed.  The story mode features appearances from a handful of NBA players along with actors Idris Elba, Rosario Dawson, and Thomas Middleditch. It was well-produced and pretty entertaining.

Once you go through the story, you’re thrust into your rookie year as an NBA player. For the first few games, you don’t get much playing time which is to be expected in real life. Luckily, you can head to The Neighborhood to brush up on your skills along with increasing them. Unfortunately, there isn’t any matchmaking in The Neighborhood, so if you’re stuck at a 60 OVR, chances are you’ll get beat down good and plenty. As previously mentioned, you can skip of the grind to a higher OVR by buying VC with real money to increase your levels quicker.

MyLeague hasn’t changed much and is still seen as the game’s “Franchise Mode” with MyGM zeroing on a more specific experience. While MyLeague still feels the same, MyGM now has a competitive component in the form a leader board and requires players to complete daily decisions in an effort to bring home a ring. Players who enjoy MyGM (I hardly play it) may not be happy with the changes, so we’ll see if they stick around for next year.

Overall, NBA 2K20 is still the best basketball game on the planet and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. While some fans may be upset about microtransactions, it’s not a requirement to play the game. At this point, however, it seems like as long as NBA 2K is the best game out there, microtransactions will be here to stay.