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NBA Live 15 looks much better than last year, but will it play better?

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

NBA Live 15's first trailer, released today by publisher Electronic Arts, focuses on the visual improvements developer EA Tiburon has made in the past year. But with just five weeks to go until the game's scheduled launch, the video leaves plenty of questions unanswered.

The graphics are indeed impressive, with the trailer showing off a major leap in visual quality over last year's widely panned NBA Live 14. Highlights include much more accurate faces for stars like Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and cover athlete Damian Lillard; details like sweat on bodies and lighting in arenas; smoother, quicker animations; and physics for collisions near the basket. Graphics were perhaps NBA Live 14's biggest shortcoming, so it's good to see a much stronger showing this time around.

Tiburon also provided some details today about gameplay. The latter two elements from that list, physics and animation improvements, will hopefully make a difference in how NBA Live 15 plays. According to a list of features posted on the game's website, Tiburon implemented real-time physics in the paint with more than 100 new animations, and the studio also tripled the animation variety for dunks, layups and athletes' signature shots. Other gameplay improvements include shot feedback, better controls for passing and defense, and new teammate AI.

Some of those pieces are on display in the trailer, but we likely won't know until we can play NBA Live 15 ourselves if all of it will combine to produce a basketball game that's much better than last year's effort, let alone one that can compete with 2K Sports' NBA 2K15. For now, the visual fidelity is encouraging.

NBA Live 15 is set for release Oct. 7 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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