Next-gen NBA 2K21 will feature sprawling City sandbox gameplay [Video]

NBA 2K developer Visual Concepts has taken to its official blog today to outline the new NBA 2K21 City hub world. Coming with the next-generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox One S/X versions of the game, the former “Neighborhood” hub will be transforming into a larger scale setup known as “The City.” Adding a series of new gameplay modes into what is essentially a sort of multiplayer open-world hub for the latest NBA 2K game, it will feature various factions to align with, driveway pick-up games, NPCs, and much more. Head below for more details and the “NBA 2K21: Welcome to The City” trailer. 

The series’ first hub world made an appearance back in 2014, as mentioned by Visual Concepts in today’s blog post, but the team has decided to significantly expand this experience into the new NBA 2K21 City hub world. 

NBA 2K21 City hub world

The NBA 2K21 City is described as being “many, many times larger than previous Neighborhoods” with “towering skyscrapers, sprawling plazas, and a city center.” Affiliations are back as players can align with one of four factions (or distinct boroughs spread throughout the city) including the North Side Knights, South Side Vipers, Beasts of the East, and the Western Wildcats. 

Each faction has a “Mayor” who will control certain aspects of the borough/team and has been handpicked by Visual Concepts from the NBA 2K community. The Mayor takes control for six weeks at a time and will be able to alter the overall look of the faction including uniforms and court art. While it sounds like the Mayors will be chosen through a voting system all players can take part in, they will at least start as “some of the biggest names” in the community most players will be familiar with, by the sounds of it.

Driveway hoops   

Players will start out in something called “Rookieville” to complete a series of starter challenges before they are let loose on the full NBA 2K21 City hub world. Outside of actual streetball games, players are encouraged to explore The City and will be able to wander into a host of activities spread throughout the boroughs, including half-court games like HORSE with up to three players on each side in what is known as driveway ball or garage hoops. You will also bump into quest-giving NPCs while exploring The City that will feature new missions every month or so — you can earn new flashy dribble moves and things of that nature. 

NBA 2K21 Event Center

There is also a new Event Center Visual Concepts describes as “the heart of The City.” Here are more details on that:

Brand new Event Center, shining like a bright beacon, no matter which borough you view it from. Equally bright and shiny are the many different interiors of this futuristic monolith, where the court floors and walls are lined with dynamic LED screens and lighting elements that change the tone and vibe of the setting. All new and returning Events will be held inside the Event Center, and special intra-Affiliation competitions will take place here as well.

NBA 2K21 releases for PlayStation 5 on launch day, November 12, and will hit Xbox Series S/X two days prior on November 10. You can learn more about the next-generation pricing and special editions right here

9to5Toys’ Take:

While pricing and the way 2K games is treating its yearly basketball franchise on next-generation machines has been a point of contention among gamers, there’s no denying how interesting the new NBA 2K21 City hub world sounds. Providing it isn’t a wretched little breeding ground for in-app purchases and microtransactions, this could be very engaging. I’m sure it’s not quite the open-work Visual Concepts would like you to think it is, but the sort of ball-in-hand sandbox approach could add an interesting layer to the usual Neighborhood formula, all while offering a nice gameplay loop that feeds back into player character progression. It will only be a matter of days before we find out for sure now. 

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