NBA 2K21 was officially released less than a week ago to a pretty rough reception. The new installment in the franchise continues to receive an overwhelming amount of backlash from players and critics alike, which, as surprising as it is, mostly revolves around changes done to a single gameplay mechanic.
Steam and Metacritic both have NBA 2K21 as one of the lowest reviewed sports simulation games in recent times. The game might as well be competing against
the recently released Madden NFL 21, which saw increased year-over-year sales but at the cost of receiving the lowest Metacritic scores in history. That and an entire social media campaign to find a new publisher for the franchise.
So what went wrong with NBA 2K21? Like any other sports game, 2K Sports has been heavily criticized for rehashing NBA 2K20 to pass off as a new installment. The difference being that the said copy-pasting has actually made the game worse. Instead of introducing new content, players feel that NBA 2K21 has gone through a significant downgrade. The all-important MyCareer mode, for example, was stripped off several cutscenes, post-match interviews, and such.
There are several complaints about bugs and glitches that should never have escaped quality testing. Something else of interest is that in what appears to be a push for realism, NBA 2K21 has received a pretty steep difficulty curve. Many players are finding it to be a grind when trying to outplay the enemy AI which seems to be invincible. The gameplay, in summation, has been made just too hard and that is where players are dropping a ton of hate on the game.
The shooting mechanics are subject to change with every yearly installment. NBA 2K20 is widely believed to be the best of the lot in that regard. NBA 2K21 though changed what was never broken, and which essentially broke the shooting mechanics of the game. The new shot meter is all that everyone has been talking about since release. Even long-time players of the franchise are finding it incredibly difficult to shoot baskets. NBA 2K21 features a tedious new way to time a shot when the ticker reaches the exact spot but a basket is still never guaranteed. The game takes into account other variables as well and as such, players are struggling with a percentage-based timing/aiming system.
The good news is that 2K Sports has released a hotfix to tone down the difficult shooting system but on just Rookie, Pro, and All-Star tiers. The Neighborhood and higher difficulty tiers remain untouched. The damage though seems to be done. NBA 2K21 has amassed a lot of negative reviews as well as angry fans.