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NBA 2K21 Next-Gen Trailer And Screens Show Off Balling On PS5 And Xbox Series X

The basketball titan is coming to next-gen, and here's what it will look like.


We've finally had our first look at NBA 2K21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X. A first-look trailer has shown off the visual and environmental improvements introduced for the next-gen version, including updated player models and various new court details. The trailer, captured on a PS5, shows off both of these improvements before and during a game.

Prior to this we'd seen just a tiny snippet of the PS5 version; this is much more extensive, offering some gameplay segments in a game between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. One of the standout elements, aside from the impressive lifelike look of the individual players, is how crowded the court and crowd appear, particularly during the pregame segment. That said, the frame rate is somewhat unstable, though it's unclear if that's representative of the game or not. Even with that caveat, the appearance of the players is remarkable, and that's true not just of the stars, like Steph Curry, but even a role-player like Boban Marjanović (of John Wick 3 fame, if you remember the library scene). Photorealism is something that has been thrown around a lot over the years in regard to gaming. However, it's very difficult to tell this footage from real basketball.

In the next-gen version, every single person on screen in the lower court will have their own AI routines, including the audience. In the footage, the movements of everyone in the arena--not just the players--looks extremely natural. Uniforms look much more realistic, and there is much more definition on hair, skin, and sweat.

A direct comparison between 2K20 and next-gen 2K21
A direct comparison between 2K20 and next-gen 2K21

Improved lighting models, animations, and physics will also make for a more realistic basketball experience. 2K and developer Visual Concepts is promising a rebuilt player movement system, with new on-court animation and collision engines, as well as a greatly expanded soundtrack featuring 202 tracks. More tracks will be added over time, too.

This trailer is the first of several drops of information about the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 in the lead-up to release, 2K has promised, so more information about the different modes in this version will be available soon. This will begin on October 7 with the first of several Courtside Reports that will each focus on gameplay, movement, and the Impact engine, plus MyPlayer builder changes and improvements to AI. Details on other modes and elements will also be shared in the weeks ahead.

NBA 2K21 will be available on PS5 and Xbox Series X at launch. However, it won't be a free update for owners of the PS4 and Xbox One version by default--only if they bought they more expensive Mamba Forever edition. The base game costs $70 on next-gen systems. Take-Two's CEO has defended the price increase, noting the huge increase in fidelity that the next-gen consoles offer.

GameSpot's NBA 2K21 review for PS4/Xbox One scored the game a 6/10. "NBA 2K21 shows that the lone basketball sim we have now has largely stagnated. It's a full package, for sure, but one that demonstrates little-to-no motivation to meaningfully improve upon itself," reviewer Michael Higham wrote. Hopefully the next-gen version will mark an improvement. Sports games often serve as the best showcases for new hardware.

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