NBA 2K21: Release date, cover athlete, and news — What you need to know


Nba 2k20 Key ArtSource: 2K

It’s not easy to continually challenge yourself to be the best when there’s a lack of competition. Yet 2K has managed to do just fine with the NBA 2K series without another console basketball game pushing it (at least you tried, NBA Live), and NBA 2K21 should once again be among the best looking on the market. But this time around, the developer will have some extra power to play with by the end of the year, thanks to the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

When is the NBA 2K21 release date on Xbox One and PS4?

Nba 2k20 GiannisSource: 2K

The exciting part about the NBA 2K21 launch this year is going to be the staggered nature of when people will be playing it. With new consoles not expected to hit until right toward the end of 2020, 2K isn’t going to wait for them to arrive to catch us with some new hoops hotness. You can bank on NBA 2K21 arriving for current-gen systems first.

But exactly when is the question. Let’s use recent history to make an educated guess: The NBA 2K franchise has long been a September release, and the last four iterations have been creeping earlier and earlier in the month. NBA 2K20 dropped on Sept. 6, and it’s hard to see the trend reversing, so let’s stake out the first Friday in September and say that Sept. 4, 2020 is a mighty fine guess for an NBA 2K21 release date.

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Will NBA 2K21 be a launch title for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5?

Nba 2k20 SimmonsSource: 2K

Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Assuming NBA 2K21 is out on current-gen systems in its usual September time frame, 2K might want more time to work on the graphics and gameplay enhancements that people will expect for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. That’s especially true, considering Microsoft’s commitment to backward compatibility, allowing early adopters to play their Xbox One copy of NBA 2K21 anyway.

On the other hand, sports games are often expected to be launch titles for any new consoles, and NBA 2K14 was down since day one on Xbox One and PS4. It suggests NBA 2K21 will be a launch title on the new consoles hitting in 2020, even if we probably won’t know for sure until this summer.

Who will the cover athlete be for NBA 2K21?

Nba 2k20 Wade CoverSource: 2K

Hopefully, it will be someone who won’t switch teams before the game comes out. In two of the last three years, the NBA 2K series cover has featured a star player traded during the offseason: Kyrie Irving on NBA 2K18, and Anthony Davis this past year (though in Davis’ case, everyone pretty much knew it was coming). The league is blessed with a number of young rising stars who aren’t going anywhere, and the likes of Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson would be excellent choices.

That said, there’s already a strong feeling among the NBA 2K community that the NBA 2K21 cover should be used to honor the late Kobe Bryant. That would require a deal with his estate, but if 2K can figure out how to honor Kobe without looking like it is profiting from his tragic passing, having the Mamba on the cover would be a popular move. Its also possible that the standard version of the game will feature a current NBA player, and Bryant could be featured on the Legend Edition, as Dwyane Wade was for NBA 2K20.

Will MyTeam in NBA 2K21 have position lock again?

Nba 2k20 RaptorsSource: 2K

One of the more controversial decisions by the team for NBA 2K20 is to limit positions in MyTeam to whatever was on their card. For example, if a player’s card said he was a PF, he had to play there on the court, and every lineup had to consist of one player at the five traditional basketball positions (PG, SG, SF, PF, and C). Not only did this handcuff gamers; it wasn’t representative of the NBA’s evolution toward positionless basketball. And while 2K somewhat mitigated it by making the best cards eligible for two positions, the grumbling remained throughout the season.

Though 2K has yet to announce exactly what it plans to change for MyTeam for NBA 2K21, although here’s hoping the developer add more solo content, for starters. It wouldn’t be surprising to see position lock return, too, if only because it helps control the MyTeam squads in Unlimited online play. We’re also keeping an eye on evolution’s return, currently well-received, so that cards can progress to higher levels.

Will NBA 2K21 have a brand new story for MyCareer mode?

Nba 2k20 MycareerSource: 2K

Even though MyTeam is the most popular mode and MyLeague arguably needs the most love, the last few NBA 2K games have had incredible MyCareer modes that start with intricate stories for sports games. From big-name voice talent to impressive production values, both “The Way Back” in NBA 2K19 and Che’s saga in NBA 2K20 were winners.

That means that NBA 2K21 will almost certainly follow suit, if for no other reason than the series has already set a pretty high bar. The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will give the developers even more power with which to show off their creativity. The Neighborhood could also use a facelift or refresh for the rest of everyone’s MyCareer play, and the new consoles would be the perfect excuse to reimagine the career hub.

Will NBA 2K21 support cross-platform play?

It wasn’t all that long ago that the thought of players squaring off on the same servers for sports games on Sony and Microsoft systems was a pipe dream. But the times, they are a-changin’, and titles like Fortnite and Rocket League, while not sports games, have set the framework for titles like NBA 2K21 to follow suit.

This is one area to watch once NBA 2K21 is unveiled, and would be warmly received by gamers everywhere. This writer’s personal opinion is that it’s still too early for games to play nice across the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but it would be a pleasant surprise if that prediction turns out to be wrong.

Close this hoops season out right



NBA 2K20

Hoop it up until the next game drops

Bringing the usual gameplay goodness and a host of different modes to satisfy just about anyone’s basketball cravings, NBA 2K20 warrants even more consideration now that it’s undergone its usual midseason price drop.

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