It should come as no surprise that EA Sports is bringing back The One to NBA Live, incorporating plenty of new features into the create-a-character mode that proved so popular last year. The One allows plays to see their own highschool-graduate athlete progress from the streets to a burgeoning NBA career, earning unlocks through a variety of both online and offline gameplay.
This time around, NBA Live 19 will allow players to create a female character, and EA Sports made sure gamers will be chock full of face shape and hairstyle options in this regard. Female characters can be used in all the same game modes as their male counterparts minus The League, with many of those game modes sporting plenty of inter-gender roster compositions.
Once players have created The One, they’ll be able to use them in game modes both new and old along with The Rise, which is the NBA Live equivalent of Longshot from Madden and The Journey from FIFA. Instead of pushing the story forward with rendered cutscenes, EA Sports has utilized videos from famous social media influencers and newscasters like Famous Los, Speedy Morman, Stephen A. Smith, and Natasha Martinez. This footage is combined with a simple interactive cellphone-based communications tool to drive the story of Rise forward.
Players shouldn’t expect the storyline to tread as deeply as some of EA’s other cinematic story modes, but Rise follows the same idea of progression: it’s time for The One to prove they have what it takes on the professional level. As players slam home dunks and score 3 pointers, the aforementioned social media influencers will create highlight videos of these moments, rewarding players with Hype. In turn, this allows players to unlock better gear for The One.
Hype has been split into three categories for NBA Live 19: Career Hype, Court Hype, and Live Run Hype. In essence, players will get unique rewards for playing different game modes, encouraging players to try out different parts of the game. It sets NBA Live 19 apart from the cosmetic reward system of other EA Sports titles , but creative director Ryan Santos stands by the compartmentalization of these rewards:
I think the biggest reason for doing that is that we really wanted to reward players who spend time in those modes with a way to show off what rank they were. For an example, if you’re an online multiplayer kind of person who plays Live Run – and that’s all you play – you could be playing against someone in 18 who had a high Hype score, but you don’t know how they earned it. They could have earned it offline, online, you don’t really get a good gauge of what their level of play is. By dividing it into 3 categories, we have a very clear way of showing your progression path within each game mode.
Playing through The Rise will take players all over the world and square them against some pretty staunch opposition. In our time globetrotting through the game, Ella Delle Don was holding down the court in Rio, while cover athlete Joel Embiid was staying close to home in Philadelphia – and they have some beautifully custom-craft courts to call home.
Like most of the EA Sports annual titles, NBA Live 19 switched to real player motion this year. Changing the engine behind the game’s physics is no small task, and RPM seems to have made things feel a lot more authentic on the court: players now push past and against eachother much more realistically, and more obviously use their size to deny offensive players. Santos says thousands of new animations were implemented from scratch to work with RPM, resulting in on-court action that looks and feels smoother than NBA Live 19‘s predecessor.
The result is that The One – or anyone that players end up controlling – move and play around the court in a much more realistic manner. Sharp turns are powered by momentum, so gamers won’t be able to watch players ‘slide’ around like an analog stick anymore.
Part of how players move and act is influenced by the all-new ICON system, which allows players to boost their ratings and playstyles based on real-world icons of the sport. EA Sports has continued to utilize both genders for this, allowing players to use WNBA-inspired icons like Candace Parker. Each ICON has paths of unlockable extras, letting gamers put their own personal touch as they progress. This allows players to make The One a bit more unique, and find a playstyle that compliments their needs.
The big decision there was really taking what we built with our progression system in The One, and figuring out a way to give players more customization and depth with their progression. A lot of our players last year said they liked what we did with the playstyles in terms of signature abilities and traits, but they wanted more. They wanted more customization to really have their creative play they way they want. So we took this idea of building on this ICON ability and allowing players to customize those, and those are all based off of real current day players, past legends, and even WNBA players.
Of course, it isn’t all perfect: celebrations in the game tend to feel rushed, and in our experience some of the celebration camera angles felt fairly jarring. That being said, none of this ended up taking away from the gameplay as a whole.
With a brand new cosmetic unlock system, the ability to play as a female character, and an entirely new physics engine, the court will feel pretty lemony-fresh for NBA Live veterans returning to The One. NBA Live 19 still has plenty of more content to offer for created players, and only once the whole picture is clear will fans be able to determine if The One will be a GOAT or just another face in the crowd.
NBA Live 19 will release on September 7, 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
You can find John on Twitter at @Makelevi, where The One stands for his single follower.