For better or worse, one of the main features of recent NBA 2K games has been The Neighborhood social hub (renamed the 2K Beach in the current-gen version of NBA 2K21), which lets you interact with other players, take part in pickup games or online leagues, and yes, spend money on cosmetics and casino games. Well, unsurprisingly, the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 is revamping this hub in a major way.
Now called “The City,” the next-gen NBA 2K21 hub actually looks fairly promising. Some welcome features have been added, including the return of Affiliations, the ability to take on simple RPG-like quests, and even the ability to vote for mayors of The City. Perhaps best of all, it seems the somewhat unseemly focus on gambling has been deemphasized, with no mention as any casino-style games. You can check out a trailer for The City, below.
Here’s some more detail about The City and its new features:
- Rookieville - Sitting just off the water’s edge on the southern side of The City lies the Rookieville docks. Rookieville is exactly what it sounds like; this is where your NBA 2K21 City journey will begin. MyPLAYERs looking to dive into The City and all that it has to offer must first prove their skills amongst other rookie MyPLAYERs in this isolated cluster of basketball courts. Meet the requisite actions in Rookieville, and the gates of The City will open before you. Let’s find out what awaits you on the other side…
- Boroughs - As I noted above, Affiliations make their long-awaited return in NBA 2K21. Each has a dedicated space in the North, South, East, and West sections of The City that we refer to as boroughs. Each borough has its own vibe and collection of basketball courts - decked out in the Affiliations logos and colors. Additionally, each Affiliation area houses a unique Warehouse basketball court, where new MyPLAYER progression features await. More on this below!
- Event Center - The heart of The City is the brand new Event Center, shining like a bright beacon, no matter which borough you view it from. Equally bright and shiny are the many different interiors of this futuristic monolith, where the court floors and walls are lined with dynamic LED screens and lighting elements that change the tone and vibe of the setting. All new and returning Events will be held inside the Event Center, and special intra-Affiliation competitions will take place here as well.
- Garage Hoops - Exploration is a major part of experiencing The City. Sprinkled around The City, you will find basketball hoops attached to the side of some buildings - if you look close enough. If you happen to see one, try pulling out your basketball and shooting some hoops with it. If another player passes by and sees you shooting, they will have the ability to step on the court and shoot with you. From there you will have the option to quickly and seamlessly launch into 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, HORSE, and many other game types. Its simplicity is its strong point. And as an added bonus, there are large VC multipliers you can earn on these courts each day for your first five games played! This is a great place to start your day off as you warm up for the main event at your affiliation’s courts.
- Quests - Continuing on with the theme of exploration, scattered throughout The City are quest/objective giving NPCs. If you’ve ever played any RPG experiences, you’ll have no problem spotting them; they will be the people with colored exclamation points above their heads. Every 4-6 weeks, new quests/objectives will be added to our People of The City, such that you will find yourself with new things to do all year long. Generally speaking, there are two lines of quests. The first is a series of single player 3v3 games you will be challenged with in the Warehouses found in the court area of each affiliation. The other line of quests will encourage you to get out and play games in The City, and reward you for doing so. Simple as that. Complete all of the quests and you will earn some unique clothing items/accessories that are not sold in stores. Get out there and ball, my friends!
- Gatorade Training Facility - The mecca of MyPLAYER physical training gets a makeover on multiple levels - literally. The facility has now expanded to two floors, where on the first floor, MyPLAYERs will find their usual array of training equipment that’ll help beef up their abilities. The second floor houses a great new feature in The City: Rental Courts. Want an uninterrupted run of games with your friends or other ballers you just met? Rent a court in the Gatorade Training Facility and play games however you want!
- Special Courts - There are a couple full-sized (one 4v4, the other 5v5) courts available in The City. These are non-affiliated courts that our team created to pay tribute to two things we are very passionate about. One of these courts was built to commemorate and celebrate the late Kobe Bryant. The surface is textured beautifully with Kobe’s signature snakeskin design, and his numbers 8 and 24 mark the restricted areas at the opposite ends of the court. And overlooking the grounds is a gigantic mural of an iconic Kobe moment, where he stood triumphantly on the scorer’s table as he celebrated his 5th NBA championship. I know you all are picturing the pose. What you are thinking is correct; and it is immortalized right here in NBA 2K21’s The City. This is a location where you will find me playing, as I celebrate my Laker and Kobe fandom!
- Fire Ball - Holding court in The City is going to come with an air of prestige in the next-gen version of NBA 2K21. On occasion, you will see a Fire Ball being used on the courts...yes, literally A BALL THAT IS ON FIRE! When your team wins 10 games in a row on Affiliation courts, the ball used in your game will immediately catch on fire and stay lit until you lose. Expect crowds to gather around your court when this happens! You already know that everyone seeing the fire ball will be like a bat signal for the best ballers to start lining up to dethrone your reign. Challenge extended!
- Pink Diamond Plaza - One of my favorite basketball court designs in the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 sits atop Pink Diamond Plaza, located right in the heart of The City. Decked out in fluorescent lights and with music orchestrated by a resident DJ, Pink Diamond Plaza hosts the entirety of the MyTEAM Triple Threat Online experience. Give it a look and prepare to be impressed!
- Apparel Stores - While some of your favorite shops from the old Neighborhoods will be returning, The City has been built to feature an even wider variety of apparel locations for you to express your style. Some of our closest brand partners will be receiving a dedicated space within our plaza of shops. All your favorites, including Nike, Jordan Brand, adidas, Under Armour, Puma, and many more can be found in the City. For me, two of my favorite new stores are Alter Ego and Drip Brothers; you can get some fun items in those two! Be on the lookout for all of the new self-expression items we will have available at launch and beyond!
The City is big. The return of Affiliations, however, may be just as big - if not bigger. For some years now, one of the most requested features from the NBA 2K community has been Affiliation-based gameplay. Naturally, we’re incredibly excited to bring it back in a meaningful way that offers competitive depth to the City. This is something we have wanted to do for a number of years now, and the power of the next-gen consoles finally affords us the opportunity to see our vision through.
Let’s start with the basics. There are four Affiliations in The City:
- North Side Knights
- South City Vipers
- Beasts of the East
- Western Wildcats
Each has their own dedicated borough and set of Affiliation courts within The City. So, who will run The City? At the core of Affiliations gameplay is rivalry and competition. It’s us vs. them. Who will be the best? We’ve designed this experience to be an ever-present grapple amongst the Knights, Vipers, Beasts, and Wildcats for bragging rights within The City. Here is what’s in-play as you represent your Affiliation:
- Player Rep - Playing on your own Affiliation’s courts has its advantages; specifically, you can only achieve your full Player Rep by balling on your home court. Playing on the courts of your rival Affiliations will earn you much less rep per game played. Leveling up and strengthening your MyPLAYER will be very key for what is to come...
- Rival Day Conquest - The final two weeks of every Mayor term (more on this below!) will feature the culmination of a series of events to crown which Affiliation runs The City. Rival Day Conquest is a key event where all rep-earning restrictions are removed from The City and you are encouraged to invade every other borough with your teammates and take hold of the courts. Keep a close eye on the leaderboard located in each court area; at the end of Rival Day Conquest, the four Affiliations will be ranked by score and seeded for the culmination of the season, the Rival Day Championship.
- Rival Day Championship - Taking place in the Event Center, this is the final piece of the puzzle in confirming your Affiliation as the true champions of The City. Battle head-to-head with teams from other Affiliations as you engage in this culminating experience. For the Affiliation that comes out on top of this head-to-head championship, the spoils of The City await you. You’ll be able to head to your Affiliations City Hall and pick up your winner’s check (enjoy the free VC!), but the real prize is your Mayor will also be able to deck out your entire borough and make your Affiliation the envy of The City.
A brand new dynamic we’re introducing as part of The City are...Mayors! Each Affiliation will be represented by a Mayor; they will be very influential in your day-to-day experience within The City. Let’s talk briefly about how Mayors come to be. For the launch of NBA 2K21, we have hand-selected the initial candidates for mayors (spoiler: they will be some of the biggest names from the NBA 2K community; you know all of them!). These four big-time community influencers will be leading the charge for our Mayor program. But these positions aren’t permanent! Every six weeks, we will be holding an election week in the game where you, the community representing your Affiliation, will have the final say on who becomes the next Mayor to represent the cause. Their duties include:
- Affiliation Videos - Mayors will be creating assorted videos during their term that will appear in-game on the jumbotrons in the court areas. You can expect your Mayor to emit rallying cries and motivate the members of the Affiliation to perform at the peak of their abilities. After all, like you, they want to run The City!
- Custom Playlists - Mayors can curate custom music playlists that only play within their respective borough/affiliation boundaries. This is actually a great feature in that each Affiliation court area will have its own vibe based on the musical selections of the current Mayor. As you move away from one court area, you will hear the music slowly fade away as you get further away. Simultaneously, you’ll be approaching a new court area and hear new beats starting to get louder with each step. It is the small details like this that you will find immerse you completely in the experience of The City!
- Court Design - There will be events during a Mayor’s reign where if their Affiliation comes out victorious, they will have the responsibility of designing what the courts look like for their borough. Will they choose a thematic design that represents the mascot? Will they just ask for Lakers courts? They need to be thinking re-election here with every decision made!
- Mural Design - Like Court Design above, there will be opportunities for Affiliations to customize the look of their court areas with highly stylized murals to really set the tone for the location when rival players come to visit!
- Uniform Selection - When it comes time to formally battle the other Affiliations head-to-head, the Mayor will have the unique opportunity to select the uniform that all members will wear as they stream onto the courts of their rivals. Dressing for success will be the order here; Rival Days will be monumental periods of time during the season.
Phew! That’s a lot of new features! And it’s not all – you can now grind rails all over the city Tony-Hawk-style or do BMX tricks, or just show off dribble and dance moves whenever you like. I’ll admit, The Neighborhood has never really been my thing, but it’s where a lot of hardcore NBA 2K fans spend the majority of their time, and looks like The City is unquestionably a major step forward.
NBA 2K21 is available now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The next-gen console version hits Xbox Series X/S on November 10 and PS5 on November 12.