|System: PS4, Xbox One|
|Dev: EA Tiburon|
|Release: September 15, 2017|
|Players: Single, co-op and 5v5 multiplayer|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Content is generally suitable for all ages.|
The two forces behind the campaign modes are the skill trees I mentioned earlier and a loot system that lets you continue to work on customizing your character as you play in assumed perpetuity. Everyone’s favorite loot box system makes an appearance here, and there are a whole ton of them to choose from as you level up. Each one shows you what comes in it, and they cost an in-game currency you earn by playing games.
One particular snaggle point is that the NBA Live 18 demo, released a little while ago, had the loot boxes pretty affordable and constant. In the full game, the prices have increased a few fold, making the pace of new unlocks agonizingly slow. Considering you’re customizing two different sets of clothing (League and Street), getting your character set seems fun at first, but quickly becomes a drag. Also notable is the conversation system, which bridge events together in the form of text messages with your friends, agent, and other players. Based on how you answer, you’re rewarded differently, but otherwise it’s fairly dry, inconsequential writing that doesn’t really read like actual humans communicating, save for the occasional emoji.
The skill system is neat, and ultimately makes NBA Live 18 a lot more smooth as you level up your skills and subsequently your OVR rating. Your player’s core skills are based on the “class” of sorts (Playstyle) you pick from the get go. You get two at first, but unlock more as you go and get points to spend when you level up. Here you unlock more customization options (mostly sneakers and animations) and gain percentage-based stat boosts. Abilities are separated by League and Streets, and unlock as you complete various actions. Doing those same actions upgrades those abilities and they definitely impact your game.
Beyond The One, you have several other play options at your disposal, most of them familiar to EA Sports veterans. You have the Ultimate Team mode that makes appearances in other games such as Madden, which lets you build a team with collectible cards as you play, as well as a more traditional and stats-y Franchise mode. The WNBA is also isolated in its own separate mode of play, so checking that out and seeing how the balance is tweaked oh-so-differently is a must.
Ultimately there’s a ton of content in NBA Live 18 for basketball and NBA nuts. While it doesn’t have something comparable to Madden’s Longshot, making it more accessible and distinct, there’s still a ton here to do and enough variance that different kinds of players will probably find something to latch onto. For me, it was The One for sure, with its hodgepodge mix of RPG elements, character customization, and a more casual style of play. When I ran into issues, it usually felt like I had the deck stacked against me in a nasty cocktail of RNG, tough opponent AI, and bumbling teammate AI all working together to take my pride down a notch. A more integrated set of learning tools would have been nice, but the game is simple enough at the beginning to make ergonomic, video game language-style sense, which is a plus compared to the much more complex stylings of Madden or NHL. There’s an uphill battle for this one to stand up to the NBA 2K Juggernaut, but it has a chance this time for sure.