Matching up for matches in The Neighborhood stays the same--it can be a slog, waiting for gamers to queue up along with the game to NBA 2K21 MT cycle through all the pre- and post-game animations. I find the Rec's 5-on-5 games a whole lot more satisfying with proper matchmaking (given that clubs are balanced in ability and positions), and you are able to take this basketball ethos a step farther in the coordinated Pro-Am league. But pleasure from such competitive outlets depends on the players you get paired with, and also how much your participant has progressed as a way to keep up.
It's not surprising the microtransactions mess every corner of NBA 2K21--and for me, I've moved on from being outraged to sense despondent. The game boundaries on a pay-to-win version, with progression tracks that are paced in ways to nudge you towards paying for VC rather than making it. Improving your stats nevertheless relies on paying VC, and the costs increase exponentially the farther you upgrade a certain skill. There are loads of nice cosmetics to make, and it is admittedly a whole lot of fun dressing up your player in fresh kicks and the flyest Nike and Adidas apparel, however their steep VC costs suck the life from their experience.
VC permeates the MyTeam mode again, too. This mode functions as a fantasy-esque build-your-own-team endeavor in which you earn card packs to unlock players one of a roster that spans numerous NBA eras. MyTeam can be captivating for long-time basketball lovers such as myself who have Allen Iverson teamed up with Anthony Davis and may take this fantasy team roster into single-player or multiplayer matches. However, the loot-box nature of earning card packs--which can be obtained by slowly earning MT points via new avenues like challenges, seasonal events, and turning into cards that are useless, or by buying them with VC--makes the reliance on VC unsurprisingly egregious.
MyGM, which puts you in the shoes of a group's General Manager, is a style worth mentioning. You call the shots for everything from roster moves, transactions, ticket prices, promotion, and personnel decisions in hopes of building a successful franchise. It's a sports management simulation fantasy, but changes here are only skin deep. You will go through awkwardly written and animated dialogue scenarios to handle relationships within your organization--such as how I chatted to RJ Barrett about the way he used to play clarinet in order to improve his sanity stats, or became the yes-man of head coach Tom Thibodeau to keep him happy. MyGM's menus are also flooded in a way which makes it difficult to navigate and get a grip of how to invest your limited time and Cheap NBA 2K MT resources through the season. I have really enjoyed this mode previously with its RPG-like sensibilities, but it's one that requires a serious revamp.