SimNation! Scott O’Gallagher here, or as you know, “OG”. I have been waiting a LONG, LONG time to write this. Now, the time is here. You’ve read Erick & Mike’s outstanding blogs, you’ve seen the commercials, screenshots, etc. Now it’s time to dive deep into the nitty gritty of NBA 2K16.
The beginning - NBA 2K15
Last year we introduced the groundbreaking, freelance offenses. Those combined with the depth in the already stellar playbooks only put the defense that much further behind than it already was. NBA 2K15 was evaluated heavily and I was constantly watching Twitch streams and YouTube videos all year from some of our finest MyCareer and online head to head players. It drove me crazy to see these guys scoring 60+ regularly on Hall of Fame difficulty by putting forth the same effort with the same move. I could tell that the experience was becoming stale, something had to change…
LET’S GET STARTED…
The feature depth on the defensive side is quite big, so I’m going to break this down into player and team levels.
PLAYER LEVEL -
Improved on-ball defensive behavior – The first thing that we wanted to change from 2K15 was that our on-ball defenders were ALWAYS guarding you “head up” so it was too easy to break down the defense by getting to the middle of the floor. Our CPU defenders now have a much better understanding of where they are on the court and conceptualizing “NO MIDDLE!”
ANTICIPATION REACTIONS – Whether it's a signature size up or a simple hesitation, the CPU defenders will react and drop correctly to put themselves in the best defensive position.
In the example below, Wall is going to one of his “Signature Size Ups” and Curry recognizes this immediately on the hesitation and retreats back.
WINGSPANS – Length is everything in the NBA, so we’re taking full advantage of our “true-to-life wingspans” in NBA 2K16. Players such as Kawhi Leonard and The Greek Freak will defend at the appropriate distances and take the proper containment angles knowing where THEY need to be to contest the shot.
NEW - Off-ball defensive directives and behaviors- If you were a heavy play caller last year, you could have tons of success with simple floppy and off-screen concepts. That is no longer the case because the AI will now get on the hip and chase out shooters such as Redick and Korver. The defense has a complete understanding of pin downs, back screens, cross screens etc.
NEW - Improved hedge defenders – You should no longer feel like you have to control both the on-ball defender and hedge defender. Depending on the hedge defender's defensive IQ and ratings, he will now drop and take the appropriate containment angles. Turning the corner on a hard hedge or blowing past the post in ICE should be much more challenging this year.
NEW – Player-specific defensive behaviors & Crowd System – Like Mike mentioned to you earlier, we really wanted to make elite defenders feel special. When you play against a Kawhi Leonard or a Tony Allen, they feel like they’re constantly “bodying” you all night. They wear you down in real life, and they’re going to wear you down in NBA 2K16. We didn’t stop there, different defenders will react differently to particular moves. Be prepared to take what the defense gives you.
NEW - On the fly defensive adjustments – No longer do you have to call a timeout to make a simple coverage adjustment to a hot player. While on defense, you can now change the ball pressure on the fly. Be careful of how many adjustments you do, the more adjustments the more potential for confusion amongst the rest of the defenders.
Controls: Tap L1/LB > select the defender > choose defensive pressure adjustment.
NEW – Defensive on ball & shot indicator – You will receive feedback this year on how well you’re positioned and how you contested/affected the opposition's shot. Similar to the shot meter, green means you did an outstanding job, red means “hand down, man down!” haha
NEW - Help side player indicator – When on defense, your indicator will light up red letting you know at that position or point on the floor you are responsible for helping or rotating.
NEW – Off-ball player perceptions - Defensive IQ means more to the game than ever before. The defensive players on the floor now have their own “perceptions” of what they can or cannot see. Expect players with lower IQs to be late, or at times, completely miss their rotation assignments.
NEW – Off-ball chucks and body ups - We added a ton of content to this system this year. No longer do you have to worry about the offensive players cutting across your face all night. You can now affect cutters by being in the appropriate defensive position.
NEW – Championship DNA Badge - When we met with Doc Rivers, he noted the basketball brilliance of players with championship experience like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He noted on how they knew they could see double teams before they were going to happen. Get ready to feel that same experience because if you control someone with that badge, you will see red circles around the defenders who are coming to double team.
BTW… Your MyPlayer can attain this badge being the highest-rated player or Finals MVP on a championship team. :)
Now let’s get to the good stuff!
If there was one benefit to having a successful professional basketball career, it’s the relationships that were built with NBA teams and players over the years. This year I was fortunate enough to speak with nearly every team in the league about their coaching schemes and philosophies.
THE ADAPTIVE COACHING ENGINE
This engine allows the AI to dynamically and progressively adapt to you, the gamer, as you play in your Exhibition, Season, and Playoff games. For the first time ever, each player is treated differently depending on the team, score and situation.
Here is what lives within:
NEW - TEAM-SPECIFIC DEFENSES – All 30 NBA Coaches will have their own adaptability and defensive coaching philosophies in NBA 2K16.
Like mentioned above, these coaches will now adapt to players differently depending on
- Player type
- And more
NEW – Legendary team adjustments (Some highlights).
- Jordan RULES – Yes, the infamous “Jordan Rules” are in the game. The entire progression on how they disrupted Jordan’s rhythm in the late '80s is here. From where they forced him when he had the ball, to the change from Dumars to Rodman depending on success.
- Scottie Pippen matching up with Magic Johnson - As you know this was the adjustment that changed the entire '91 series.
- Gary Payton on MJ in '96 Finals.
- Celtics adjustments to the Showtime Lakers.
“How many adjustments are in this Adaptive Coaching Engine?” – To be honest, I’m not sure. I stopped counting at five thousand.
- NEW - Player efficiency evaluation – In basketball games prior to NBA 2K16, the only defensive adjustment you would see take place is a double team once a player has scored a particular number. NOW scoring 30 with KD on 26 shots is not the same as KD scoring 28 on 15 shots. Each team will react differently depending on score, the player and efficiency that he’s producing at.
- NEW - Specific Player archetype adjustments – Scoring 20 with Andre Miller and Steph Curry will mean totally different things to the 30 different teams in the league. Coaches like George Karl may look to stop the bleeding immediately with an aggressive adjustment while Steve Kerr is fine with keeping everyone else on the floor in check.
- NEW – Stretch 4s and pop recognition – Again, in games prior to NBA 2K16, players like Kevin Durant can come over and set 1-3 ball screens and destroy you! Now teams understand who the screener is and how he’s playing.
Problem: Durant is going to set a ball screen on the point guard, he’s on fire and on track to score 40+
Answer: Hedge defender now decides to “hug up” on Durant, eliminating the pop threat.
NEW - All playoff adjustments against particular players in last season’s playoffs are in NBA 2K16
Here’s a few examples:
- Matt Dellavedova pressuring Curry at 94 ft.
- Cleveland doubling Curry on every pick and roll.
- Bogut matching up with Tony Allen. – Don’t be surprised if you see this adjustment if Golden State is down in the series again. :)
- Here’s a few examples:
I know what you’re thinking, “Is this just based on historical data?”
Nope! Let me give you an example of how this works:
This past season I noticed an adjustment on Chris Paul in screen and roll from a particular team. I called over there and asked them, “Hey, I noticed you guys were showing hard on CP3 last night, is this a new change to the scheme? I haven’t seen you guys do that all year.”
“Nope, that was just for him.”
“Do you guys plan on continuing to guard him like that in the pick and roll?”
“Yup, it worked well for us.”
I show you this to tell you that these are the regular conversations we had throughout the year and we’ll continue to have this season.
So with that said….
NEW - Every pick and roll defense in the NBA is in NBA 2K16!
Our Adaptive coaching engine has allowed us the ability to incorporate positional hedging combinations. A team like the Raptors who can now hard hedge with their power forward and drop their center in the pick and roll.
Another thing to note: Like Mike mentioned in his blog, a lot of work was put into our body ups this year. Getting to the hip with the right player is as essential as ever when working in the pick and roll.
Just like in real life, teams will go outside their pick and roll scheme for particular players. Below is an example of how the Clippers played Livingston and Curry
In this example, you can actually hear Davis yelling, “ICE! ICE!”
Clippers in the regular season versus Harden:
Let’s keep going…
- NEW – Pre rotations - You can now pre-rotate in pick and roll situations. This is great to use against strong dive guys such as Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.
- NEW - Team-specific help rotations - Some teams like to pre-rotate on side pick and rolls, and others like the Sacramento Kings may help one pass away but only from the corner.
- Make the extra pass - Look to see more two and three man back side rotations. Along with that, look to see specific rotations around particular pick and roll scenarios.
Yes... I do have one offensive feature for you :)
NEW - Pick and roll mechanic – SimNation, you now have the ability to choose the screen side of the screener and decide when he will slip, roll or fade. This becomes essential to use in side screen and roll against heavy ICE teams. Controls: Hold LB/L1 to call for screen > Tap RT/R2 to flip side of screen, Tap RB/R1 for roll/fade, Tap LB/L1 again to slip or pop early.
Now let’s get back to defense.
- NEW - CPU “Junk” defenses – a team like the Mavericks will show you a man look until the first or second pass, then they will transition into a 2-3 zone. This is all dependent on the team or player they are facing.
- NEW – Multiple defensive player assignments - Just like the finals, a player like LeBron could see up to four different Warriors match up with him throughout a game. This can change due to quarter, score and how he’s having success.
- NEW - Elite defender responsibility – In any other basketball game prior to NBA 2K16, a Cavs vs. Bulls match up would have Dunleavy guarding LeBron the entire game. Now certain teams will put their best defenders on you depending on the situation. Expect players like Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, or Kawhi Leonard to switch on to elite perimeter players.
- UNDERSTANDING YOUR WEAKNESS – Stephen Curry was the MVP of last season, but he wasn’t the best post defender. Teams will now double team immediately if they recognize that a guard has a significant size advantage or he’s a particular problem on the block.
- NEW - On-ball and off-ball screen switching logic. You and the CPU have the ability to switch guard to guard, big to big, or everything. Look for teams like the Bucks with their long and agile lineups to switch everything on occasion.
OFF BALL DENIALS:
- Improved positioning – Defenders are much more sound on staying “up the line” and on top of offensive players. You will also see passing and catching pay more respect to the off ball denial positioning.
- Late game content – Off-ball defenders understand the situation so don’t be surprised to see them play more urgent and active denial animations.
- Improved pass deflections
- Improved off ball steals
- NEW - Team recognition of mismatches on the block. No longer will you see teams not double when Shaq is posting up Steve Kerr! :)
- NEW – Late game pick and roll switching. Don’t expect to cheese the CPU late in the shot clock, they now have the ability to switch late pick and rolls.
- Improved help rotations
- Improved transition defense - Last year you could have success by weaving up and down the sidelines in semi transition. Thank you Twitch and YouTube streamers! This has all been accounted for.
- Improved double team rotations - Teams will now prefer to leave weaker shooters in double team situations.
- NEW – Quarter by quarter defensive adjustments - A team like the Clippers may show you a different look to start the third quarter of games. This will vary depending on the opposition.
- NEW - Extending pressure – Don’t be surprised to see players such as Patrick Beverley and Matthew Dellevadova (in particular situations) pressure you 94 feet. This will impact stamina on both the ball carrier and on-ball defender.
That’s nice, right? :)
What’s the best part of it all? It can be updated throughout the season! Yup, it’s no different than a roster update. Don’t expect them to happen as often, but if we notice trends throughout the league or specific team, expect a change. This is also something I would love to hear from you about, what defensive trends are YOU seeing from your favorite team?
- NEW – “Dig” ability in the low post - You no longer have to fully commit to a double team when a player has the ball in the post. The dig setting will have the nearest perimeter defender attempting a quick swipe and retreating back to their man.
- NEW – Team comparison chart now in coaches’ clipboard - No more having to press start to attain this info.
- Improved double team pursuit angles – Double teams as a whole are much stronger this year. Look to get rid of the ball against agile bigs coming to double.
- Changed POE logic -Teams will stay more in their base defense with their team-specific pressures. Look to POEs as more of an extreme this year. More of a statistical impact will be required for these changes to take place.
Last but not least, don’t be surprised to see your favorite coach pacing the sideline with our new signature coach walks.
IN CLOSING - YOU, THE GAMER!
I’m very happy about what we were able to achieve in a year. This is the great thing about working here at Visual Concepts. No vision is compromised, all in to win while having a great time in the process. I hope you guys enjoyed the read, and I would love to see our game be another vehicle to educate our gamers about the beautiful game of basketball.
I’ll leave you with this…
You’ve read through the blog of defensive goodness and you have seen the first clips of gameplay. Now my question to you, do you have what it takes to lead the league in scoring? Can you bring the Larry O’Brien back to your city?
I guess we’ll see on September 25th!
Czar… the floor is yours!