(Nothing in this review takes into account the MYGM or MYLEAGUE modes of the game which are still playable in both online and offline modes (although they too are filled with excessive, unnecessary and un-skippable cutscenes). This is exclusively concerning the MyCareer [Road to 99] mode)
I installed NBA 2K18 a while ago. Having played and loved 2k14 I jumped right to the latest edition of the game. And boy was I ever disappointed.
Perhaps I should have begun my review with the fact that I only ever play MyCareer in NBA2k or really any sports game. I loved it in 2k14 so I started one in 2k18. And the first thing that pops up is a notification telling me that since I did not log in to 2k Community, many features of the MyCareer will be unavailable (like the Pro-Am or Sports Store). In a rush since I just installed it, I dismissed the notification and went ahead offline. And it wasnt really an option, I have an unstable, very limited internet connection, so ANY online game is a big bold NO
Once started, it (the game) told me to pick my favourite franchise. And since i never played as a Laker in 2K14 I opted for it. But instead of a Rookie Showcase or Draft or anything really, the game just switches to the game schedule with my character signed on a one-year free agent contract. I say ok, big deal Ill just start and play a match. So I play my first game, once this ends, its aburptly back to the schedule and start the next match or simulate through dates. No post match conference, no player of the game, no locker room, no nothing. So you are stuck with a player having ZERO customization options, you have a fixed nickname (DJ) and you cannot equip or buy jumpshots/routines, uniform accessories, nicknames.
I was really disappointed in this, so I went online at 2k Forums to see whether there were any other disappointments in store for me. And lo and behold I discover that a very common bug whereby you get permanently stuck in any round of the playoffs. I further confirm my suspicion that this NBA 2K18 is nothing short of a grind-fest. If you go online you have to compete with a plethora of micro-transactions and if you play offline its a typical Freemium, kinda like Injustice of IOS or Android. There are no key-match ups. Each game you do play will bear equal value in terms of getting skill points. You can finish Road to 99 in MyCareer but it'll be nothing less of a, as said before, grind-fest. Furthermore, there is a cap to any player you create. Not every archetype of player can get to 99, some cannot even reach 90 overall.
Assuming you are not hit with the playoff Bug, (an Update 6 has been released as of 17 Dec. 2017 which DOES allow prevent you getting stuck on playoffs) your contract expires after the playoffs and you start afresh with a new team, that you handpick just as you did at start of MyCareer, since literally every team will take you up as a free agent for, again, one year. I haven't finished the game as yet but have finished my rookie season, but from what I gathered from Reddit and 2K Forums, is that endorsement deals, sponsors and pretty much every thing that is not directly linked to grinding out your stats is unavailable to the offline player. Further more, I wasn't re-signed by my team despite averaging a Double-Double. Not that its any better for the online player who is flooded with the absolute need for micro-transactions, have to go through a myriad of absolutely unneeded cutscenes and features (like the excessive travelling in The Neighborhood or Locker Room). Furthermore, because of its buggy nature this happened. I played and won the Eastern Conference Finals as a power forward averaging 16 pts and 13 rebs. Once i won the series, the game glitched such that i was under the stadium, as in I could see, as a ceiling the entire Celtic arena with 3 options loaded saying "phone call", "next" "continue", and due to the horrendous pc port key bindings, I have zero clue what I did or what happened with i pressed what should have been the phone call. The screen went blank, then after a while the playoff ladder re-appeared only it was blurry like someone took off the glasses, and the game went on as usual.
The Neighborhood is the equivalent of the waiting/staging area in World of Warcraft or Arcane Legends (Mobile). However unlike the two mentioned games, you cannot interact with the avatars of different online players, you kinda just see them as decorations.
Also, unless you play as a power forward or a center, your character will be so slow as compared to the AI that itll require a lot of patience on your part just to be able to get enough skill points (or VC if you are online) to get a decent average character. And that is not all. Once a save file has been linked to the online setting it cannot in turn be converted to offline and vice versa. So if you have made a character in offline and now want to convert online, too bad. I tried finding a solution but came up empty.
The game is plenty high demanding, with a drastic variation from low settings to high or ultra. You need 2gb VRAM just to utilize Medium textures. For High settings or above you need 3gb VRAM and above. Further, the game is a very poor pc port. All the keys and every symbol in the entire game is as per a Dual Analog Controller. So even if you align the keys to your keyboard like I did, it wont matter, the keys will shift during various moments. So simultaneously, the space bar (attached to Right Analog Up), W (attached to 1 or A) can and will act the equivalent to "OK" or "Enter"
I am still in such a shock. NBA2K's MyCareer was what gave it an edge, held it head and shoulders over every other sports sim in the world, to the point that other ( like EA ) started to add a similar MyCareer whereby the game became like a sports single-player RPG. You get to negotiate contracts, get sponsors, have post match conferences but NBA2K18 decided to abandon that in exchange for a very worthless Multiplayer hub called the Neighborhood where you CAN change outfit, shoes, appearances but only for VC. A ton of unnecessary and unskippable cut scenes and scenarios. God knows what was going through the developers' heads when they decided to abandon the core component that lets them compete with giants like FIFA, PES.
My advice, do not buy this game. Either wait for a patched up version, or wait for 2k19 and hope that too isnt butchered up.