According to Metacritic NBA 2K18 received generally favorable reviews. In their 8.4/10 review, IGN wrote: “NBA 2K18 impresses by making players behave more like their real-life counterparts than ever before.” GameInformer gave it a 9/10, writing, “NBA 2K18 has a few holes in its game – the series needs to improve its writing, the ballyhooed MyCareer Neighborhood hub falls flat, and the tech powering the series is nearing retirement age. That said, boil the game down to its essentials and you have a rock-solid, well-balanced sports sim that provides an immensely entertaining shoulder-to-shoulder same-couch multiplayer experience.”
Polygon gave the game 7/10, praising the visuals but criticizing the reliance on microtransactions, saying: “Of course, it’s no surprise that NBA 2K18 looks good; the series has looked the part since its advent on the Dreamcast, staying relevant visually and staking out its own part of basketball culture. NBA 2K18 continues the trend, capturing the feel of basketball’s urban centers in The Neighborhood. It’s too bad, then, that The Neighborhood is covered in ads and persistent microtransaction begging. The growing push to spend real dollars on VC impacts those looking to build even the most basic of player avatars.” Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a 6.5/10, writing: “Maybe NBA 2K18 has been the king of the court for too long and now it’s getting bored. Instead of improving gameplay, it’s figuring out more ways to make money through MyCareer and MyTeam. It’s new Neighborhood functions as a metaphor for the entire game itself, in that it seems like a big addition to the game but you quickly realize it’s pretty much just an empty shopping mall and a distraction from the actual game.”
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.