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‘NBA Live 19’ aims to take another step forward with expanded game modes and features

The latest iteration of EA’s NBA Live will let you play The Streets across the globe, while AI makes the gameplay more realistic.

The summer is here and that means we’re closing in on a new NBA Live! As someone who grew up playing the series and watching it take the tumble it did, it’s been good to see some promising upgrades over the last few years.

Even better, EA announced on June 9 a few new things/improvements that should get you excited ahead of NBA Live 19’s September 7 release.

‘The Streets’ mode is going global.

Last year’s The One mode allowed you to both progress in The League, legendary Pro AM courts, and The Streets. You were able to play on some pretty famous courts, like Venice Beach, Rucker Park, and Barry Farms, to name a few. In NBA Live 19, the streets are international as well, inspired by NBA players going overseas in the offseason (like when Klay Thompson went to China last year or how LeBron visits the Philippines).

“We thought it was a cool, interesting experience that’s relevant to what the players do away from the league,” says Seann Graddy, EA executive producer of NBA Live.

Rio De Janeiro and Paris are a few examples, but it looks like there will be many more courts to come. You’ll be able to universally progress throughout The League and The Streets again, but now you can aim to be a global icon instead of just a national one.

Travel the world and build your best team.

The biggest new feature is the option to build your squad. To make your team better, you’ll have to visit courts from around the world to challenge and recruit NBA Players both past and present onto your squad. It reminds me of Sly Cooper when you had to interact with a new character, then they would join your team for later missions. This means you’ll have the potential to earn players as a new reward for balling out in competitions.

This sounds like the games of old where you had to complete objectives to unlock certain characters instead of just paying extra to get a higher chance at unlocking a character. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new game mode intertwines with The Streets.

Gameplay improvements.

While the game has made good strides in the last few years, the gameplay still left a lot to be desired. This year we’ll see the introduction of 4 things:

Real player motion

NBA Live 18 had some stiff gameplay in terms of certain gameplay moves and interactions. They will try to combat their somewhat stiffer gameplay with Real Player Motion. This feature is designed to make interactions like attacking the basket through contact and changing directions function smoother. This will include some signature player movement for the players that have unique ways they do things This will also affect Triple threat, jab steps, and pump fakes. These new features aim to make the animations and gameplay smooth.


Last year a key focus point was one-on-one on-ball defense. This year, EA is making sure that seeps into off-ball defense as well. In NBA Live 19 you’ll have to deal with guarding backdoor cuts and going through screens, while offensive off-ball players will have to deal with defenders being able to body up players. These one-on-one interactions will revolve around skill-based timing, which sounds like an interesting new wrinkle in the skill curve. it seems that this will be important, especially in 5-on-5 online modes.

“The example we like to use is like a Rip Hamilton,” says Graddy. “He was constantly fighting to get open. He’d be locked up by his defender away from the ball and he’d push off or he would try to get away to get open and then the ball handler would give him the ball and he would take the shot. So we’ve added a mechanic to do just that.”

Interactive Environments

You remember the old sports games where there were fans in the stands, but it didn’t seem like they knew the game was going on? Well, NBA Live 19 is trying to change that with an interactive environment that aims to intermingle on- and off-court action. During the course of the game, you might see players diving for a ball into the crowd, or crashing into the stanchion.

This might not be a thing gamers really care about, but for the people who want as many authentic elements possible, this is only a plus.

Dynamic Gameplay AI

The aim of Dynamic AI is to make the game seem more realistic. For instance, you’ll see players on hot streaks get the ball more and start to get more confident over time. The goal seems to make the players more aware of the situation they’re in.

The Icon system.

NBA Live 18 had a playstyle system where you could choose what type of player you were. It was a cool idea and similar to 2K’s archetype system.

The drawbacks to Live 18’s system was that it was linear and restrictive at points. NBA Live 19’s icon system will let you mold your game specifically after NBA stars and legends, allowing your player to be more versatile and well-rounded.

Who you choose will matter when it comes to skill boosts, abilities, and the overall path your player will take. It’s like an extra layer to the types of play styles — instead of just choosing a slasher playstyle, there’s more than one way to be a slasher.

Here are my thoughts on this.