Analyzing NBA 2K17's "The Prelude" Trailer

Coming hot on the heels of the game's recently released theatric trailer, the first trailer detailing information about the upcoming MyCareer mode for NBA 2K17 has finally been released, just a month before the game's release date.

The trailer, titled "The Prelude," states that the MyCareer portion of NBA 2K17 will be downloadable on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live on September 9th, 2016, a week before the game's pre-order launch date of September 16th, 2016.  

2K's trailer is only a minute and a half long and does not feature any developers explicitly explaining the trailer, but there is a multitude of details which give the basketball gaming community an idea of what to expect in the newest edition of the series.  

Having played every rendition of the game since NBA 2K10,  I can't wait to see what the 2K team has up their sleeve with the latest and greatest edition of the fan favorite game mode.

To get a general idea of what to expect of MyCareer in NBA 2K17, I am going to break down the trailer frame by frame and try to catch every bit of information which is noteworthy.

The first noteworthy screenshot comes 14 seconds into the video.  Behind a black backdrop, the words "The Ultimate Sports RPG" cinematically appear on screen for about two seconds, before transitioning to the next screen.

Source: NBA 2K17

Just as a refresher, an RPG is a role-playing game, in which a player takes control of a fictional character in a fictional setting while making hundreds of thousands of different decisions over the course of a story. What 2K is trying to say explicitly by dubbing the game mode an RPG is up for debate, there's only one direction 2K realistically will go, and that's giving one's MyPlayer a couple of options during cutscenes which determine the trajectory of the storyline.

In NBA 2K11, 2K12, and 2K13, the game mode mixed in a little freedom of choice along with traditional gameplay, with press conferences and the decision between the Nike and Jordan brands as sponsors.  

NBA 2K14 and 2K15 introduced cutscenes in the MyCareer mode, and with these cutscenes came the opportunity to choose what one's MyPlayer said, which pushed the story in a particular direction.  In NBA 2K16's version of MyCareer, ironically titled "Be the Story," the game eliminated freedom of choice in exchange for a Spike Lee Joint.

The trailer then transitions into a series of screenshots which explain how users can customize their MyPlayer, showing snippets of video in which one can choose their position, playstyle, and physicality.  

The trailer then shows footage of a player scrolling past the selection screens for basketball's five traditional positions, which, of course, are Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward, and Center.

When passing through each position, the MyPlayer stands in the center of the screen with two players of the same position on his right and left sides, as well as said player's name, height, and their playstyle.  For example, Stephen Curry is listed as 6'3" and labeled "All-Around Superstar PG."

Source: NBA 2K17

Next, we get a glimpse of six of the many that will be available, Slasher, Shot Creator, Sharpshooter, Point Forward, Lockdown Defender, and Glass Cleaner.

Source: NBA 2K17

Below the playstyles, the screen lists the ten attribute groups that we will be able to upgrade, which are "Shooting off Dribble," "Layups and Dunks," "Mid-Range Shooting," "3PT Shooting," "Post Scoring," "Agility," "Strength," "Rebounding," "Playmaking," and "Defending."

These attribute groups also have a starting level and a cap level, which differ depending on one's playstyle.

Each of the six playstyles has at least one attribute group which can be maxed out, but no more than two, meaning it won't be possible to max out one's MyPlayer.  For example, a Sharpshooter can only max out his "Mid-Range Shooting" and "3PT Shooting," while other attribute groups will be average at best. 

Personally, I'm not a fan of 2K restricting players from being able to create virtual basketball Demigods because it handcuffs a player's customization options.

Listed below the attribute groups are "Upgradable Badges," five of which come with each archetype, meaning one's MyPlayer will start his journey with a couple of predetermined badges.  A "Sharpshooter" has Deep Range Deadeye, Limitless Range, Catch & Shoot, Corner Specialist, and Mid-Range Deadeye to start.

2K is also adding importance to a MyPlayer's physicals, which are height, weight, wingspan, shoulder length, and hand size.  When making one's MyPlayer taller or shorter, attributes are either compromised or enhanced, depending on the physical changes.  

In the context of the trailer, when a player's height is reduced from 6'8" to 6'7", the "3PT Shooting" attribute has a yellow arrow pointing upwards, indicating the maximum rating will be higher.  In response to this, the "Driving Dunk" attribute has a red arrow pointing downwards, showing the highest potential rating will be lower.  The same idea applies with wingspan.

Source: NBA 2K17
Source: NBA 2K17

Just like last season, one's MyPlayer will have the opportunity to play in college.  Last year, users had the chance to pick between Kansas, Georgetown, Arizona, Louisville, UCLA, Connecticut, Texas, Michigan, Villanova & Wisconsin.  Kansas, Georgetown, Arizona, Louisville, and Connecticut make a return, but making their 2K introduction are Illinois, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, and Wake Forest.

Source: NBA 2K17

The trailer then features a short snippet of a cutscene between a MyPlayer and his coach, played by Matt Walsh from VEEP.

Their exchange goes as such:

Walsh:  "Feeling that?"

MyPlayer, jumping up and down: "Yup, I'm pumped."

Walsh:  "Ready to change this program overnight?"

MyPlayer: "Let's do it."

Source: NBA 2K17

A year removed from the much criticized Spike Lee Joint, MyCareer appears to be heading in a direction similar to NBA 2K14, whose cut scenes didn't interfere with the game too many times.  The implications of Walsh saying, "Let's change this program overnight," are standard, as the MyPlayer is probably a high school phenom with high expectations.  There will more than likely be more cutscenes between the two before this one.  

Next screenshot is very self-explanatory.  Play well, raise your stock.  This visual is more aesthetically pleasing compared to the one from last season. 

Source: NBA 2K17

As a college student, this part gave me goosebumps and got me really into the prelude portion of the game.  Here we see ten players on the court, five with white jerseys, five with dark blue, standing in front of the Arizona home crowd.  For some reason, Walsh is sitting on the bench, alone, which I found funny.  The crowd embodies the college atmosphere incredibly well, with the student body doing coordinated dances in support of their team.  Last year, the 2K team did a fantastic job of capturing the college atmosphere, ironically more than the actual NBA games.  

Source: NBA 2K17

The trailer "ends" with another snippet between the MyPlayer and Walsh, also in the tunnel.  So far, these little cutscenes look very basic in nature, but look like they have been well executed. 

MyPlayer: "You know my dad used to say, 'show 'em what you got.'  And I got something for 'em tonight." 

Source: NBA 2K17

I put the word end in quotation marks because just when we thought the trailer is over, we get one more cutscene.

Source: NBA 2K17 

MyPlayer: Hello?

Lady on Phone: Hello?  Is this the president of basketball?

Side note, another dumb nickname?  Well, anything sounds better compared to Frequency Vibrations.

MyPlayer: Uh...yeah, I guess this is Prez, who's this?

Lady on Phone: Okay, thank you, please hold for Coach K of Team USA.

MyPlayer, obviously in shock: Excuse me, who did you say?

We already knew that Team USA from this year's Olympics and the Dream Team would be in the game, but now your MyPlayer can play for Team USA in the Olympics?  Bravo, 2K, bravo.  The only question I have is would we be able to play for other teams or just Team USA?  2K has to know that not every player is from the United States, so it would be great to have the opportunity to represent other countries.  Even if that isn't possible, playing for Team USA would be bonkers.


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