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NBA Live 18 reveals launch date and cover star James Harden

Harden and his beard highlight EA Sports’ basketball return

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

NBA Live 18 launches Sept 15 and five-time NBA All-Star James Harden will be on the cover, publisher Electronic Arts announced today.

The launch date coincides with NBA 2K18s; technically, that game will debut on Sept. 19, but pre-order customers can pick it up four days early on Sept. 15. NBA Live 18 will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

A demo version of NBA Live 18 will go live tomorrow on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live. The demo features “The Rise,” the prologue section of NBA Live’s new single-player career, The One. In “The Rise,” users create a basketball player and take him through several developmental showcases at iconic gyms and streetball courts to improve his position in the NBA draft.

The player created in The One is also the user’s avatar in a suite of competitive/cooperative multiplayer games, as well as the player they take on a solo journey through the NBA to stardom. The One will also feature weekly Live Events, which are goals that deliver unlockable rewards. The NBA Live 18 demo will offer Live Events, and both the character and his progress will carry over from the demo to the full game if the user buys it.

The NBA Live 18 demo also lets users play the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors against each other, in Oracle Arena, with all uniform options.

Polygon has played the NBA Live 18 demo and will offer impressions of that tomorrow. Though EA Sports’ embattled basketball franchise skipped last year, we (and others) liked what we saw from the glimpses offered at E3. NBA 2K has been the unchallenged leader in this category for seven years, and that shouldn’t change in September, but NBA Live 18 will have something its competitor won’t: all 12 teams of the WNBA.

Update: EA announced that anybody who pre-orders NBA Live 18 at “participating retailers” will receive a 33 percent discount on the game, which drops the price to $39.99 from $59.99. In North America, the list of retailers includes Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Toys R Us and Walmart, as well as the PlayStation Store and Xbox Games Store.

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