NBA 2K19 Gameplay Changes in the Works?

2K Sports had their annual NBA 2K event where select media personalities made their way to Los Angeles to preview a beta build of NBA 2K19 on Friday. One such YouTube personality, ShakeDown2012, attended the event and shared his thoughts on Twitter about the current build of the game. Note, this is purely about gameplay, and not outside features such as MyCAREER or MyGM/LEAGUE.

The first of the series of tweets by ShakeDown states that defense has been “noticeably improved” in NBA 2K19. This includes a “new red [flashing] stamina/fatigue meter” when you “over-dribble or get repeatedly shut down by a defender.” This appears to be a drastic improvement from NBA 2K18, where you can dribble your way out of a lot of situations for some unnatural spacing opportunities. ShakeDown goes a bit further into to this in a later tweet, but damn, I’m glad that defensive tightening has been improved in some form.

The following tweet emphasizes the shot meter, which was a point of contention from this past year. The shot meter from NBA 2K18 – the small curved meter on the right of your player – returns with an option to return to the NBA 2K17 style meter – the meter underneath your player’s feet. The inclusion of both meters should allow for greater choice and diversity in NBA 2K19. One thing of note is that it was more difficult to see the Shot Meter in 2K18, while 2K17‘s covered a greater area, since it was around your feet.

NBA 2K17 Shot Meter on the left, NBA 2K18 Shot Meter on the Right. You can select either one in NBA 2K19

It also appears that 100% releases (Green Releases) have been tweaked significantly for contested shots in NBA 2K19. In NBA 2K18 – no matter if you’re LeBron or Kyle Korver – contested shots were quite rough to make, especially the much questioned ‘heavily contested’ shot. Good shooters can make contested shots more often now, and according to ShakeDown, shooting felt “great overall.”

Momentum Dribbling is still in NBA 2K19 but punishes you even worse if you abuse it. ShakeDown states in the following tweets that it “felt harder” to spam momentum dribbles with Rajon Rondo and Stephen Curry without “eventual failure.” What you should gather from this piece of information is dribble penetration and other dribble moves are meant to be purposeful this time around, as opposed to “dribble out of everything.” The Snatchback Dribble (holding R2/RT/ZR – Xbox/PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch respective – and flicking the right stick away) was removed from the game, but there seemed to be a realistic way to do that move – hard cross and quick stop while moving forward, while also moving the right stick left or right. ShakeDown notes that there weren’t any crazy ankle breaker animations that he noticed. In addition, blow-by animations have apparently been reduced, and the 2K18 push off animation was never seen. Stronger players can get by – not as consistently – and slashers “will be contested at the rim by the person guarding them.”

Be warned – defense is a lot tighter this year. If the ball handler isn’t good at creating space or over commits on the dribble, defenders – like LeBron James, Draymond Green and Robert Covington – will be a nightmare to deal with. With the defense that stringent, it leads to two options: general knowledge of your team’s plays and the ability to create openings using other teammates or gaps in the defense. This, I feel, is really good for 2K eSports, where smart, effective defense will be king in the 2018-2019 Pro-Am and 2K League seasons. Expect to see a LOT of close games going forward.

The following tweet emphasizes the fact that contested layups are “easier” to make if you’re a good shooter or slasher. Stiff arming to the basket won’t be as effective as it is in NBA 2K18, but that’s negligible if your inside scoring is on point.

Full court passes won’t have players looking all types of lost, as is the case in prior titles.

The one tweet that should spark your interest if your archetype revolves around being a forward or center – or even a tall shooting guard (6’5″ or taller) – blocks against the backboard. ShakeDown notes that blocks against the backboard “actually pin against the backboard” instead of “going flying.” In addition, defensive-minded guards should benefit from the next apparent fix – pass deflections and loose balls staying in play.

In previous games, pass deflections and loose balls had a weird habit of gaming velocity as it gets farther away from you, and that became an issue on defense – if your reflexes weren’t on point or you had a guard with poor reactions, as such in the early stages of MyCAREER. Conversions on offense should be considerably simpler with the play staying inbounds instead of risking giving your opponent a reset on offense. 

As ShakeDown stated, he played against experienced players, so it’s only prudent to state that your mileage may vary when the game releases. Also, since this was just an early build of the game, in the next six weeks leading up to the game’s release on September 10, expect to see other changes come into the mix.

NBA 2K19 releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam on September 10. The 20th Anniversary Edition – featuring LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers – releases on September 7. There currently is no date of release for the Nintendo Switch version of the title, but it has been confirmed for release.

About The Author

Clinton Bowman-Christie
Managing Editor, Games & Technology

Teacher's Assistant by day, passionate gamer and wrestling fan by night. This describes Clinton to a T. A Brooklyn, New York resident for all of his life, gaming, Power Rangers, football, basketball and wrestling pretty much comprise a lot of his free time.