NBA 2K19: Beginners guide

Fired up NBA 2K19 and found yourself lost in the sheer depth of basketball goodness available to you here? Don't fret. Many have been where you are, and while NBA 2K19 is a challenging game to master, it's easier to get into than the game lets on.

Stick with us and we'll give you all the information you need to understand what's going on when you emerge from the locker room, walk through the tunnels, and step onto the court.

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Hit the training mode to get acclimated with the controls

2K Sports is notoriously sketchy when it comes to providing a new player experience. While the basic controls are well-documented, there are lots of little moves and techniques you can execute, but the game just doesn't even attempt to help you out.

The first thing you want to do when booting the game up is hit the training mode. You'll be given a crash course on the basics, and that should be enough to get through a full game of basketball with your head on straight.

When you get more advanced, know that there's a lot more you can do to take your game to the next level, whether it be when you're driving the ball to score or trying to stop your opponents from doing so. Be sure to refer to the in-game manual and practice all the moves that you want to pull off after you've brushed up on the basics.

What is Virtual Currency and how do you earn it?

Virtual Currency is 2K Sports', well, virtual currency of choice. Introduced back in 2013, Virtual Currency — commonly shortened to "VC" — is used in almost every single mode of NBA 2K19.

It's used to level up your player in MyCareer, as well as to purchase player packs in MyTeam, and to buy new clothes, shoes, accessories, tattoos, and even hairstyles for your player in The Neighborhood, which is NBA 2K19's blacktop mode.

Unfortunately, VC has become the defacto way to make any sort of meaningful progression in most game modes, and obtaining it isn't always easy. You can earn it by playing the game, but the payout amounts are so small that you'll almost have to play the game as your full-time job if you want to stand a chance at keeping up. As you may guess, this system is designed to frustrate you so much that you'll eventually want to buy your way to the top.

That's an option, but we're here to tell you there are other ways to earn VC at a reasonable rate. Here are four things you need to be doing to earn VC in NBA 2K19 if you want to stand a chance.

Get social

For starters, you should follow 2K Games, NBA 2K, and Ronnie 2K on Twitter. They'll frequently drop limited time codes that you can use to boost your virtual bank account.

The amount might be as little as 5,000 VC, but I've seen them give out as much as 100,000 VC as a surprise pick-me-up for the game's loyal fans. You absolutely want to take advantage of these VC drops whenever the opportunity arises, as it's pretty much akin to getting free money.

Do your daily objectives

There are daily objectives you can complete in NBA 2K19 that'll earn you extras. You can earn either fans or VC by doing something like scoring more than 20 points in a game. There's also a daily spin that'll get you clothes, fans, or VC. Do these as often as possible.

Use the mobile app

Next up, download and use the MyNBA2K19 app. You can play daily pick 'em games and excel in NBA trivia to earn extra VC each day. It won't get you rich overnight, but it certainly adds up.

There are other great reasons to download the NBA 2K19 app. One of those is the ability to easily scan your face into the game, so your player can look just like you do. (Or somewhat like you, depending on your lighting and whether the game's algorithm likes your face.)

Other goodies include weekly events, 2-on-2 matches, and the ability to collect and battle with your favorite NBA superstars from the past and present.

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Sign a sponsorship deal

In career mode, be sure you're not only accepting each sponsorship that comes your way but fulfilling your obligations to them. Your NBA salary is great and all, but sponsorships offer you even greater potential earnings. You'll start out with smaller deals from places like local car dealerships, but the more fans you earn and the bigger your status becomes, the more lucrative deals will begin popping up.

This option was available in years past, but they'll be more plentiful and bountiful in NBA 2K19. And new this year, you'll be able to negotiate the terms of your contracts, so you can lobby for easier milestones or more money.

By the way, if you sign a deal with Nike or any of the other shoe sponsors in the game, your shoe from those deals are now completely free for your character to wear. Talk about incentive!

Check out The Neighborhood

2K Sports is adding a lot more to The Neighborhood, which is a shared online hub for you to play around in as you prepare to compete online. When you're not running up and down the courts you'll be able to take part in other fun activities like dodgeball, trivia, and even a trampoline.

The Neighborhood is pretty cool in that regard. Instead of sitting in menus and waiting on loading screens, you instead walk around a collection of basketball courts which are themselves surrounded by the game's various stores, training facilities, and other activities. This is a welcome addition if for no other reason than you get to keep yourself entertained while you're waiting for a pickup game.

Play the game

And don't forget that each game you play in one of these modes will earn you VC. Games in MyLeague and MyCareer will earn you a bit, but the real money is in online play, where you're guaranteed 500 VC per game just for participating (and more if you happen to school some kids at the park).

Granted, it's still going to be a grind, especially when you start getting to that 80 to 85 OVR range. But do these things on a daily or regular basis and you'll at least be able to go online and pass a basketball around without endangering the lives of everyone around you.

Improve your MyPlayer superstar

Physical attributes represent the primary means to player progression in NBA 2K19. You'll level each group of statistics up by spending VC or other currency on them. This is where it's important to think about what sort of character you want, as your maximum OVR in any given statistic is governed mostly by which position you play, your physical stats (such as height, weight, and wingspan) and the positional archetype you chose.

That is to say, your 7-foot monster of a center won't be racing down the court and shooting very many three-point shots. Figure out which route you want to go based on your own personal playstyle. Those who want pure shooters can look to become point guards and shooting guards, dunkers should play around with being a center, while a power forward is a great candidate for being an all-around offensive and defensive monster.

But attribute points aren't the only way you go about upgrading your player. You can drastically change the way your character performs by way of badges. Badges are earned and upgraded purely through gameplay. Yes, that means this is the one thing you can earn in the game that isn't directly tied to VC, and they're a pretty big deal.

To earn a badge, you must perform a move or reach a milestone associated with it. For instance, the Limitless Range badge makes it more likely that your shots from well beyond the three-point line will go in, and you earn it by making 50 shots while beyond the line. Each badge is ranked from Bronze to Hall of Fame level, with some able to be upgraded past their initial rank. And as with attributes, there are certain badges you won't be able to get with certain positions and archetypes.

And new to NBA 2K19 this year, you can now level your badges up by participating in specific drills, and any progress you make toward the badge in other game modes will also apply. This is a far cry from the system of old where you had to look up badge conditions and then still not know whether you were actually on the road to unlocking or upgrading them.

Play basketball how it was meant to be played

When it comes down to it, you won't get far in NBA 2K19 if you can't perform on the court. Here are some general tips to keep in mind while you're trying to score baskets.

Pass the rock

Like most team-based sports games, passing the ball to your teammates is a critical component of success. No one man or woman has ever won a game on their own.

If you can't get open, don't force yourself to take the shot (unless, of course, the shot clock is about to expire). Pass the ball to your open man. That could be one quick pass or as many as 20 of them in a single possession. No matter how many times you have to dish it around, do it and take the smarter shot.

Play on the ball

On defense, we recommend playing on the ball at all times. Playing "on ball" means you want to control whichever defender is guarding the current ball carrier.

While your AI teammates can sometimes make a nice play on the ball themselves, you'll give yourself the best chance at forcing a turnover, blocking a shot, or simply contesting a shot if you're the one controlling the closest defender.

Run a play

Finding it hard to get open? Try to run a play. Basketball may seem like a schoolyard sport with no substance on the surface, but in actuality, there are a lot of schemes and plays you can run to get your guys in open space.

And these plays don't always have to be complex. On offense, calling for a simple pick and roll will cause your teammate to come over and block the defending player so you can try and make a move around them. It could be a play as simple as a swing pass to your perimeter shooters, or one designed to get your center to the paint for easy buckets.

On defense, your options are a bit more limited but you have access to a decent number of concepts. For instance, run man coverage if you're confident in your players' ability to guard their guys one-on-one. If someone is just a bit too fast or they happen to be feeding one player to exploit a bad matchup, calling some sort of zone defense may be able to help.

No matter what you call, the player you control will have their own responsibilities in the play and there are nice visual aides on the court to help you get where you're supposed to be and do what you're supposed to be doing.

Attack from all directions

When you're playing on offense, it can seem fun to take control of Stephen Curry and try to drain every three-pointer you can. And on some of the lesser difficulties you'll start out playing on, you might even be successful with this tactic.

But that's a habit you'll want to drop quickly if you're serious about getting better. It's important that you attack a defense from all angles and all lengths available to you so your opponent won't be able to key in on what you're doing.

For instance, if you're shooting nothing but three-pointers then your opponent will likely make an adjustment to play man-to-man defense and tightly guard the perimeter. It's at this point that you would want to think about calling some sort of iso defense to get someone open down in the paint. Whether you're going for dunks and layups or three-point shots — and everything in between — keep your opponent honest by switching things up every now and then.

Dominate the courts

We won't lie to you: NBA 2K19 is a pretty deep game and it can be intimidating for a newcomer to come to grips with its various systems and nuances. These beginner tips should get you started in the right direction. It'll take a lot of practice to get online and rule The Neighborhood, but you'll find it quite rewarding when you're on the blacktop ripping off multiple wins in a row against your peers.

NBA 2K19 is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch if you bought the 20th Anniversary Edition. All others will be able to join in starting Sept. 11.

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Quentyn Kennemer