Things NBA Live 17 Absolutely Has To Do via Andrew @AndrewNLSC
Find a hook
Bottom line, NBA Live 17 needs to be a deep, fully featured, and customizable game. It needs to have substance, not gimmicks. At the same time, it also needs to offer something unique, something beyond the standard franchise mode, career mode, and other features that we expect of a basketball game. LIVE Pro-Am was obviously intended to be that hook in NBA Live 16, and honestly, it wasn’t a bad idea. It’s a good concept, it’s a fun mode to play, and it even appeals to someone like me, who traditionally isn’t an online gamer. I also think it’s something to be retained and expanded upon, but NBA Live 17 needs something else, preferably NBA oriented.
Implement Roster Editing
It’s nice to get the official roster updates every week, but if there’s a wrong jersey number, or a player gets traded or cut in the meantime, we need the ability to make those changes ourselves. Historically, a lot of basketball gamers have had fun creating likenesses of themselves and their friends, and playing with fantasy rosters. A lot of detail went into being able to customize a single player for Rising Star and LIVE Pro-Am in NBA Live 16, which is nice, and we did get gameplay sliders, which also must remain. However, that’s only part of what we need as far as customization tools are concerned.
While I’d like to see a full compliment of team and player editing tools in NBA Live 17, I have a feeling we’ll have to wait on a couple of features. Custom teams are something we’ve wanted to see back in the game since NBA Live 2001, so to say that their return is overdue is a massive understatement. However, creating and editing players should be the higher priority, so custom teams can wait, if need be. It’s more important that we can create a bunch of custom players, and edit the existing ones. That means changing jersey numbers, editing ratings and tendencies, and making transactions. Ideally, we should also be able to save those rosters locally, and then share them with other users.
Deeper Dynasty Mode via Andrew and The Gaming Tailgate
Dynasty mode desperately needs some attention In addition to retaining the current rotation menu and sim intervention, Dynasty Mode needs to bring back basic functionality from years ago . That includes transaction listings, the ability to edit players (specifically their positions and jersey numbers, since adjusting ratings would be cheating), training drills, and scouting throughout the season. I’d like to be able to scrimmage with my team at any time, not just once a month (as in NBA Live 09 and NBA Live 10). Dynasty cut scenes would only add to the presentation value. Adjusted stats for shorter quarter lengths, sliders and settings to customize the experience one step at a time, but a few of those steps definitely need to be taken in NBA Live 17. Dynasty needs to be a lot deeper, a lot more immersive. NBA Live 17 needs to bring back some of the missing features, and start adding new and exciting stuff – as NBA 2K has done with My LEAGUE and MyGM – to make Dynasty engaging and addicting again. The ability to control multiple teams in Dynasty Mode, and play a standalone Playoffs, are also important options. I’ll also make mention of the ability to make substitutions and adjust strategy between quarters (I miss being able to go to the pause/team management screen at quarter time and halftime), bring up the Player of the Game at the post-game screen, and view quarter-by-quarter stats. These may sound like small details, but they’re useful staples that have somehow missed the cut in recent years. If they’re brought back, they’ll do their part in enhancing usability, and the overall experience.Capturing the feel of each part of the season would give the perception of being 'dynamic' and help keep users immersed. This could be reflected in in-game presentation, commentary, even menu interface & design.
Perhaps the inclusion of team and individual game/season records as well as player historical stats would help users feel that they are part of this larger world. Imagine presentation elements for setting a new game or season scoring record; or perhaps playing as a great such as Kobe Bryant and trying to chase down the all-time scoring leaders as your career winds down.
To make some of these possibilities happen, each mode will need more options: Perhaps users can play as existing player in Rising Star, the option to join existing roster or alter draft (current methodology), option to play as team instead of Player Lock, etc. Dynasty Mode needs to look no further than NBA 2K for the multitude of options that users expect in Dynasty/Franchise.
A popular feature from NCAA Football that shockingly has not permeated all EA SPORTS titles is an in-game score, stat, and news ticker. Such a feature would reap benefits and increase immersion for both Dynasty and Rising Star modes. Seeing scores and match-ups from around the league, as well as stats, stat leaders, and league news would help users feel part of a larger world in these modes instead of the repeated 'one-off' experience that exists now.
Already mentioned above, All-Star Weekend would be a major addition to help more these modes more immersive and enjoyable.
How to accomplish the goal of improving this mode is the biggest point of contention. Should NBA LIVE feature storylines ala NBA 2K? Similarly to Madden NFL, should it rely on an XP system? Should NBA LIVE attempt to incorporate LIVE Pro-Am into the mode? Or perhaps more off-court elements (endorsements, player interactions, etc.) to make players reflect real-life personality traits?
Given how many elements Dynasty & Rising Star currently and could possibly share, should NBA LIVE merge these modes into one, ala Madden NFL's Connected Franchise?
Improve Gameplay Mechanics and Animations
The old and outdated animations must be phased out. This is especially apparent in the paint game, which needs to be deeper on both sides of the ball, and look a lot better. We also need to see more collisions, and with them, the chance of injuries.
Presentation via The Gaming Tailgate
- More Details: Signature Moves, Celebrations; Accurate Arena Details, Jerseys, Accessories, etc.: Historically, NBA LIVE has prided itself on getting the details right: uniforms, shoes, crowd chants ('MVP', booing certain players), etc. While still very good overall, the franchise appears to pick its spots on where it wants to be incredibly accurate. Missing/incorrect uniforms, inaccurate courts & arenas, additional sig moves and celebrations are some of the areas where LIVE could stand to reassess its accuracy and how it can improve.
To be fair, many of the assets in-game are based off designs the NBA and/or teams submitted during game development. However, fans of a team will not care why something is inaccurate, they only care that it will be fixed.
- Improved In-Game & Post-Game Atmosphere, Team Celebrations, etc.: Perhaps the most unspoken area of improvement for the franchise is in-game and post-game atmosphere. As is, the game atmosphere only exists from dead ball to dead ball. The crowd may get into the moment, but all crowd momentum is wiped out during a timeout. Should the game be won on a buzzer-beater, the user may be jumping off their couch celebrating as the game seemingly moves at breakneck speed to the end-game presentation and menu screens. Improved in-game atmosphere may include teammates celebrating heading into an opponent's timeout as the crowd roars or walking dejectedly if a big lead has been lost, for example. Post-game team celebrations - particularly if the moment warrants it - would put the proverbial icing on the cake for a great game.
- Surfaced Strategy Controls; Refreshed/Revamped Menus & Screens: Unlike in football titles where users get to pick a play before each snap, basketball gamers must call the majority of their plays and strategy on the fly. NBA LIVE 16's offensive play wheel helped to make it relatively easy to call offensive plays, however it is still very cumbersome to call defensive plays and select strategies during the action.
With the game utilizing ESPN broadcast elements, many parts of NBA LIVE will appear the same each year as ESPN rarely makes sweeping changes on a year to year basis. This can give users who do not or have not played much of the franchise a feeling of déjà vu - those who watched game clips or played demos of previous versions of NBA LIVE will think not much has changed. The menu layout, font, and interface - in-game and menus - needs an overhaul to make them appear fresh as well as making them more user-friendly and intuitive.
Missing and other inaccurate elements include: quarter-by-quarter box score, presenting players by 1-5 in lineups & menus, surfacing pertinent info in menus, et al.
LIVE Pro-Am 2.0 via The Gaming Tailgate
NBA LIVE 16 featured the most popular community request, online team play. While a fun, popular mode there is still more that the community wants from it in the future.
1) Squads & Customization: The mode is currently very single-player oriented. Adding in the option for squads or communities with some methods of customization (courts, team name, uniforms, stat-tracking, etc.) would continue to build the LIVE Pro-Am community and attachment to the game.
2) Tournament Events: Aside from any new venues added throughout the year, there is very little difference in playing the mode between day one and day 300. Adding in special events, such as tournaments, would encourage the building of communities to work together as squads for these unique competitions. Adding in rewards for participating and/or winning (IE: RP, SP, LUT coins/cards, gear) would make each event meaningful.
3) Easily Viewable/Comparable Stats: While they exist, it is cumbersome to view and compare player stats. Should teams, leagues, tournaments, etc. be added, a way to view stats would be almost necessary to help scout opponents and also for friendly bragging rights among teammates.
4) An instant replay or highlights mode would allow content creators to show off their player in a more unique, personalized way.
5) Additional Modes: A popular request among the Pro-Am community are for more game modes. They include options for: Playing to 21, standard NBA game/rules (or custom quarter length), 2 on 2, 3 on 3, 4 on 4, NBA LIVE 10 LIVE Run format (pro players), etc. While obvious and logical additions, would adding numerous modes dilute the community too much?
6) More Gear & Apparel Options: The lack of options in apparel became apparent as the year went on. The competitor's product went so far as to add Marvel superhero apparel, where as NBA LIVE's lone mid-year apparel update (to date) included very generic clothing options.