Review – NBA 2K23

Reviewing the yearly iteration of the NBA 2K series is always a bittersweet pill. On one hand, they are fantastic games; ever since I started reviewing games for WTMG, I’ve been tackling them, and they always push the graphical and performance boundaries of the consoles they’re released for. They also feature a ton of modes and accessibility options, despite their newcomer-unfriendly nature. On the other hand, every new iteration pushes the boundaries of decency when it comes to predatory microtransaction practices and cringeworthy product placement. Will NBA 2K23 dispel this curse and become a small light of hope in a franchise tarnished by its publisher’s arrogance? Let’s find out.

NBA 2K23 Dallas

Let’s say it again, kids: a great pick if all you want is an arcade sports title to have fun with friends, albeit pricey as hell.

Whenever I review a yearly iteration of a franchise for this site, I tend to choose different platforms each year in order to have something different to say about games like these. I did not do that for NBA 2K23, however, for the simple fact that the PS5 version is still, by far, the go-to version for fans of the genre. Between the sublime visuals, fantastic framerate, and smart usage of the DualSense’s features, very little has changed in terms of gameplay and performance when compared to NBA 2K22, but that’s not a bad thing.

Sure, I am still insisting on the fact that these games need to have more accessible control schemes and difficulty options for newcomers, something that was present in EA Sports’ now defunct (and missed) NBA Live franchise, but as a whole, it’s still fantastic. No need to fix what isn’t broken. The problem lies in the broken stuff that still hasn’t been fixed.

NBA 2K23 Ads

Clearly the reason I play a basketball simulator.

Let’s get this out of the way: all the stupid product placement featured in NBA 2K22, such as “Jake from State Farm” basically begging for players to start a new insurance plan by giving your avatar a god damn polo shirt, makes a comeback. Even worse, it does so in a borderline cynical, “we didn’t hear any feedback because we don’t give a crap” kind of way. The microtransactions and predatory progression system in the main career mode still remain. Take-Two knows this is their main cash cow and that a small minority of players will still feed them with enough cash for them to ignore my (and countless others’) complaints. I almost feel like I’m talking to a wall when mentioning these issues. They won’t leave, I have to accept they won’t leave, but I will still complain about them whenever given the chance.

Jordan Challenge

The Jordan Challenge mode is a beautiful tribute to the greatest player of all time. Don’t at me, LeBron stans.

There is one thing that makes NBA 2K23 slightly better than its predecessor, however. Outside of the cynical career mode, lies a brand new mode called “Jordan Challenge”. This, my friends, is what makes this game stand out a bit. I don’t remember the last time I have played a tribute mode in a sports game that felt so… perfect.

As the name implies, the Jordan Challenge is a series of scenarios where we follow the career of Michael Jordan, as a slight reminder to the younger generation that he is the best player of all time, and not LeBron (don’t come at me, you know I’m right). From his rivalry with Patrick Ewing at the NCAA level to the finals with the Bulls, you play superb recreations of these historical events, complete with retro filters and imagery to immerse you into 80s and 90s televised basketball. To top things off, the mode features interviews with people who took part in MJ’s development as a player. I loved it.


Giving credit where credit is due, Visual Concepts keeps knocking it out of the park when it comes to graphical fidelity.

Well folks, you know what to expect from your yearly iteration of NBA 2K: amazing visuals, realistic (but newcomer-unfriendly) controls, a lot of different modes, and enough predatory microtransactions and cringeworthy product placements to make any marketing student want to tell 2K to tone things down a little. The only thing that makes NBA 2K23 better than its predecessor, even if by just a little bit, is the inclusion of the excellent Jordan Challenge mode, a great love letter to the best player of all time. Does that make the game worth your time? Well, if you’re into basketball, you don’t exactly have a choice, but, at the very least, 2K23 isn’t worse than the games that preceded it. Small wins, y’all.


Graphics: 9.0

Still a gorgeous game running at a buttery smooth framerate. It was good last year, and it’s good this year. No complaints.

Gameplay: 8.5

Not a lot has changed from 2K22. Better than previous outings, uses the DualSense in smart ways, still somewhat newcomer-unfriendly.

Sound: 7.0

Take-Two has seemingly given up. NBA 2K23 only features rap and trap songs, and while some of them are good, the lack of musical variety is depressing. As for the rest, the quality of the commentary is still excellent, as to be expected.

Fun Factor: 6.5

The Jordan Challenge mode alone makes NBA 2K23 better than its predecessor, but the predatory amount of microtransactions is still horrendous.

Final Verdict: 7.5

NBA 2K23 is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of NBA 2K23 was provided by the publisher.