NBA 2K17 doesn’t launch until Sept. 20, but interested parties can get a leg up on the game’s career mode with "The Prelude," a free download that will be available 11 days early, publisher 2K Sports announced today.
"The Prelude" will allow anyone on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One to play the introduction of MyCareer, the NBA 2K series’ single-player RPG mode, starting Sept. 9. That’s a full week before NBA 2K17 itself launches for pre-order customers under 2K Sports’ Early Tip-Off program, and it’s unprecedented in the franchise’s history. It’s also the first time since 2012 in which 2K Sports will offer a pre-release demo, or something like it, for an NBA 2K game.
As you can see in the trailer above, "The Prelude" will feature NBA 2K’s new MyPlayer creation process. In NBA 2K17, your created athlete’s physical attributes — such as height, weight and wingspan — will affect their skills on the court. The game will also connect to the MyNBA2K17 mobile app on Android and iOS; through the app, you’ll be able to scan your face onto your NBA 2K17 MyPlayer. (The app is scheduled to be released Sept. 8.)
Once you create your NBA prospect in "The Prelude," you can choose to join the basketball program of one of 10 licensed Division I NCAA squads. The trailer shows the logos of the Arizona Wildcats, Georgetown Hoyas, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Kansas Jayhawks, Illinois Fighting Illini, Louisville Cardinals, Michigan State Spartans, Oklahoma Sooners, UConn Huskies and Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
A 2K Sports representative confirmed to Polygon that the mode will let you play for any of those teams; NBA 2K16’s MyCareer featured 10 schools as well, but the Wisconsin Badgers appeared only as an opponent. Once NBA 2K17 goes live Sept. 16, players will be able to buy all-time great teams for each of the 10 schools with microtransactions, as well as collegiate MyTeam cards for legendary players.
Playing through multiple college games will affect your projected status in the NBA Draft. And if you need some tips, "The Prelude" will include 2KU, a new tutorial mode narrated by 2016 USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K will explain basketball fundamentals such as defensive positioning and the pick and roll, so you’ll learn how to play not just NBA 2K17, but the sport itself.
You’ll also see narrative cutscenes in which your created baller will interact with high school coaches, teammates and others. The characters include a person played and voiced by Matt Walsh of Veep fame; you can see him in the trailer. The proceedings look very different from "Livin’ Da Dream," the much-ballyhooed but poorly received NBA 2K16 story mode that was written and directed by Spike Lee.
It appears that "The Prelude" will end just before the NBA Draft, but your progress will transfer to NBA 2K17’s MyCareer mode if you buy the full game. For much more on NBA 2K17, read our extensive gameplay preview.