NBA 2K18 is a basketball simulation game which, like the previous games in the series, strives to realistically depict the National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as present improvements over the previous installments. The player mainly plays NBA games with real-life or customized players and teams; games follow the rules and objectives of NBA games. Several game modes are present and many settings can be customized. In terms of commentary, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett appear as guest commentators.
Along with the current season’s teams and players, previous games in the series have featured NBA teams from past eras, such as the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls and the 1985–86 Boston Celtics. NBA 2K18 adds seventeen more such teams, including the 2007–08 Denver Nuggets and the 1998–99 New York Knicks, as well as ‘All-Time Teams’, teams for each franchise consisting of the greatest players in the respective franchise’s history.
A staple of the series, MyCareer, returns as one of the available game modes. MyCareer is a career mode in which the player creates their own customizable basketball player and plays through their basketball career. The mode features a storyline which plays out as the player competes in games as well as off-court activities. The creation tools have been overhauled – new hairstyles and body archetypes are available for the player to make use of, among other things.
The game’s returning MyGM and MyLeague game modes, which task the player with managing all basketball operations for a specific team, were a point of emphasis during development. MyGM is more focused on realism, whereas MyLeague offers more customization options. MyGM mode attempts to introduce more cutscene-style interactions than previous games in an attempt to give the mode a storyline, which is dubbed ‘The Next Chapter’, similar to the series’ MyCareer mode. Additionally, several additions have been made to the mode which cater to the NBA’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the NBA G League, the NBA’s official minor league basketball organization, is present.
NBA 2K18 again, for the sixth time in the series, features MyTeam mode, a mode based around the idea of building the ultimate basketball team, and maintaining a virtual trading card collection. Players assemble and play with their team in basketball tournament-style competitions against other players’ teams in several different formats. Assets for a team are acquired through various means, including randomized card packs and the auction house. Virtual Currency (VC) is used extensively in the mode.
The game introduces a new feature to the series, Neighborhoods, which tie into the game’s MyCareer, MyPark, and ProAm game modes. In addition to allowing access to the aforementioned modes, Neighborhoods feature an open world design which players can explore while interacting with other players. Several activities can be completed to raise attributes and the player can purchase items.