NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is out in the wild, and while it offers notable improvements to its gameplay modes over the original, the experience is marred by loot boxes, and while they were in the original, they just feel more invasive this time around. The biggest issue with the loot boxes is that they control your available roster of players. If you don’t score a decent free set the first time you play the game, you’ll be left to grind for hours to hopefully unlock better cards, or a team of cards to use in the Season mode. Which by the way, you can only use teams in the Season mode that have at least two player cards unlocked, so there’s almost no chance you’ll be able to play with your favorite superstar, or NBA team, when you first start your journey with Playgrounds 2.
This loot box system stinks, because it overshadows a rather fun arcade basketball experience. You can check out my full review below in video or script formats.
Hey now fans of arcade-style basketball games, Matt Heywood here to review NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, or the game with an overly long title because it was taken on by a bigger studio.
On its surface, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is an improved upon experience over the original, which is due to its new NBA-style Season mode, and an increased focus on online play. The Season mode is a nice departure from the original’s tournaments structure, and gives the game a closer tie to the league with a nice 14 game season and 3 game playoffs, which takes under two hours to complete if you play 3-minute games.
The multiplayer arena, which is dubbed Playgrounds Championships, is also quite fleshed out with options, and allows you to team up with other human players to take on the AI, or each other, to earn bragging rights through the game’s leaderboards. I was able to play a few games early on, and the systems worked fine to connect me to other players and matches, but I worry that the community may never grow large enough to keep match wait times low, so it could become a lonely place a few weeks after the allure of Playgrounds 2 wears off.
The gameplay is relatively unchanged, so you can expect a blend of NBA Jam and NBA Street style gameplay. Some of the dunk animations are quite fun to watch, even when they get repetitive, and the new lottery perks that can apply negative effects to your opponents always makes things interesting. Although, I’ve found 3-point shooting to be nearly impossible, even with highly rated 3-point shooters, so I’ve found myself sticking mostly to dunkers and 2-point aces when I choose my players for exhibition or online matches.
While this sequel has improved upon the modes, roster (MJ and other legends are now in the game thanks to the 2K umbrella), and gameplay, I have a beef with this game’s micro transactions.
Upon first booting up Playgrounds 2, you will be awarded a variety of the game’s card packs, which are split between player cards, and swag cards, which feature different gear you can have your players wear. You get a mix of both kinds of card packs, but after opening them all, you’ll be lucky to have two or three NBA teams that you can use in the game’s Season mode.
You see, to use a team in this mode, you have to have at least two player cords from the team unlocked. Due to the limited amount of player cards you’re awarded for free, you don’t have many options when it comes to which teams you can use in this mode. You might as well forget using your favorite team, or even your favorite superstar, because the chances of unlocking enough players to use a team, or one of the game’s Legends right from the get go are slim to none.
You’re given the option to spend another $10 to unlock the full roster, but after already dropping $30 on the game, I feel like asking for another $10 just to use all of the game’s players, seems like a cheap tactic to encourage the use of real money to make a few micro transactions.
You can grind your way to unlocking more player cards, but you’ll need more time than I expect anyone is willing to invest into Playgrounds 2 to do so. I guess you could spin this game’s micro transactions as a means to encourage replayability, but I would have rather have had the game’s full roster mostly unlocked from the get go, with the potential to earn the super rare cards through grinding or real world money. I mean, who wants to play as scrubs through an arcade-style take on a NBA season with a team that they have no allegiance too? It just seems like an odd gameplay model, but that’s what you will face in Playgrounds 2.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is a fun arcade-style basketball game that does feature improvements over the original, but the whole micro transaction heavy loot box system of earning new players to use mars the overall experience. I would have rather have had the roster unlocked and have to grind each player card to get them better stats than do both, which sucks some fun out of this sequel. It’s a 6.5 out of 10 type of game. I’d wait for a sale if you were previously interested in it, because due to its pay walls, it’s not a must-play experience.
Thanks for watching, Matt Heywood here signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
Review Statement: The author of this review was provided an Xbox One code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”