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Review: NBA 2K23

It’s not often we cover sports games here at apart from some odd Fifa posts from guests. But I wanted to take a break from Tears of the Kingdom before I dived back in to finish it (currently sitting at 60ish hours and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface). So NBA 2K23 has come as a bit of a palate cleanser, and I’ll be honest, it’s swept me up more than I expected.

The latest in a long line of NBA 2K games, NBA 2K23 is peak basketball simulation. I mean, it kinda has to be, doesn’t it?

I’ll get into some specifcs shortly, but I think it’s worth pointing out that I’ve tried on several occasions to gel with an NBA 2K game in the past and it’s never quite worked for me. Playing NBA 2K23 honestly doesn’t feel any different, but it’s all clicking into place now.

I don’t think that these games are as accessible as you might like, and that’s certainly been prohibitive to me previously. I can’t pin-down exactly why things are different this time, but it’s been a learning curve that’s ultimately been pretty damn enjoyable!

NBA 2K23 - Fist Bump

NBA 2K23

The thing with NBA 2K23 is that there’s so much that hits you in the face immediately. You truly have to find a way to avoid all that noise.

I haven’t engaged with a lot of the features in the game because I don’t care about things. A fantasy team of trading cards that will likely cost me money.

I do care about having the chance to play a career and get stuck into that element. Watching a younger, taller and slimmer me, make waves in the NBA is cool. The storyline is pretty heavy and the press conferences can be quite intense. Based on speculation and the overall narrative that it’s tough being a rookie in the NBA. NBA 2K23 lets you play your role and learn how to build that team chemistry.

Positive actions like assists and scoring help bump your social following. Pushing on the offensive and missing often (yep…..that’s me) can see you lose fans, see your team lose faith in you. It’s a very modern, and likely semi-true-to-life reflection of the modern sports star.

I’m having fun, and scoring etc, but the game keeps asking me if I want to change difficulty. That’s because NBA 2K23 isn’t an arcade game. It can be hard, I’ve learned the rules better by being punished. Turnovers, goal tending, illegal screens and reaching-in. There’s so much to basketball that I didn’t know and it’s been an interesting trip to becoming at least sem-competent.

Take the rules out though, and think about the sport itself. In my mind, basketball has always been throwing the ball or dunking the ball. Yet NBA 2K23 is telling me that my floater was a poor choice of shot, or my lay-up wasn’t appropriate. I didn’t even know what these were. I just knew that not slam-dunking the ball was 2 points. 3 if it’s a throw from outside of the outer lines.

NBA 2K23 is so much deeper than I’d imagined.

NBA 2K23 - Rising through the ranks


NBA 2K23 is a basketball simulation game, and my approach to it has always been that it’s an arcade game. Easy to score points, relaxed rules etc. But it isn’t. It’s replicating the sport with physics of jumps and types of shot. Painstakingly enforcing the rules. Showing how your rookie holds-up against the best of the best (not well!).

As soon as you understand that, and I’m sure plenty of people do. Then you can start to get the joy out of it.

I’m learning how to behave at post and “in the paint”. Trying to master my jumpshot, learning how to effectively keep in the way when on defence and to block shots. NBA 2K23 is likely as close as I’ll ever get to properly understanding basketball. But like Madden NFL games in the past, this is how I’ve learned to properly appreciate the sport. Beyond the admiration of sweet last second three-pointers and cool dunks.

Of course NBA 2K23 is doing more than simulating the game. It’s presenting the courts, the teams and the players in painstaking detail. Everything looks incredible, players look true-to-life and as the matches progress they sweat and look tired. Movement becomes harder, shots are less accurate. It’s really a great representation of what I imagine real-life pro basketball feels like.

NBA 2K23 - Cards


NBA 2K23 is fantastic, deep, realistic and it’s given me hours and hours of fun. No doubt it will continue to do so as I dip in for a match here and there.

It does have some weaknesses, though.

Lets ignore the very aggressive push on getting you to buy currency for things in-game. I don’t like it, but it’s hardly new to the genre, and EA perfected that with their Ultimate Team nonsense. I don’t condone it, but we have to at least accept it’s there. Very pushy, always advertised and a bit grim. But that’s not my biggest gripe.

The “MyPlayer” mode is where you’ll likely spend most of your time. Working through your career. Here, you’re given access to a hub areas with all the other players online. Lovely concept, but it runs like hot trash. Massive frame drops just to walk to a store to buy a new pair of socks (using that currency you can go and buy if you like!).

Joining some of the “rec” games in the neighbourhood (for some reason themed as a cruise ship) is tortuous, taking ages to just get a game. Then, there’s no skill-based matchmaking, so as a level 1 player, I got trounced by some level 80+ player in some 1v1. It wasn’t fun in any way.

Having to endure the frame drops to be able to buy clothes and items for your avatar is ridiculous. The Neighbourhood element is a lovely idea, but poorly executed and turn what could be a list of menus into an absolute chore.

Away from predatory currency sales and an awful social hub. I would say my biggest gripe has been the AI of team mates in NBA 2K23 has been inconsistent. Sometimes blocking me in and forcing a turnover. Ignoring pass requests when I’m wide-open and not covered. It’s been frustrating on occasion to just get through a match.

I’m happy to admit I’m not good, but sometimes the game just gets in my way of even trying. It’s not all the time, but NBA 2K23 can cause me some frustration when I’m trying to keep my place on the starting line-up of the Golden State Warriors!

NBA 2K23 - Swagger


I apprciate that my basketball knowledge and my approach to NBA 2K23 would have been prohibative and likely not the best way to critically assess the game as a whole. But it’s taught me and enabled me in significant ways, and that can’t be understated.

The Jordan Challenge seems cool but I’m not a massive legacy NBA guy. I can see how NBA 2K23 may have sparked a new interest, though.

The rosters in-game are huge. Legacy teams, current teams, women’s teams. NBA 2K23 has a lot to offer any fan of the sport, and I think that’s really really important these days.

There’s plenty left for me to learn and understand, but taking my experience as a relative novice with what I now realise was a rudimentary understanding of the sport. I think NBA 2K23 has taught me, provided fun and engaging gameplay and is delivering a high-level experience for basketball fans across the world.

It’s honestly just good fun, and you feel like you earn those points. NBA 2K23 is highly recommended!

Highly Recommended

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