NBA Live 18 Review
NBA Live 18 Cover Art
System: PS4, Xbox One
Dev: EA Tiburon
Pub: EA
Release: September 15, 2017
Players: Single, co-op and 5v5 multiplayer
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Content is generally suitable for all ages.

The two forces behind the campaign modes are the skill trees I mentioned earlier and a loot system that lets you continue to work on customizing your character as you play in assumed perpetuity. Everyone’s favorite loot box system makes an appearance here, and there are a whole ton of them to choose from as you level up. Each one shows you what comes in it, and they cost an in-game currency you earn by playing games.

One particular snaggle point is that the NBA Live 18 demo, released a little while ago, had the loot boxes pretty affordable and constant. In the full game, the prices have increased a few fold, making the pace of new unlocks agonizingly slow. Considering you’re customizing two different sets of clothing (League and Street), getting your character set seems fun at first, but quickly becomes a drag. Also notable is the conversation system, which bridge events together in the form of text messages with your friends, agent, and other players. Based on how you answer, you’re rewarded differently, but otherwise it’s fairly dry, inconsequential writing that doesn’t really read like actual humans communicating, save for the occasional emoji.

NBA Live 18 Screenshot

The skill system is neat, and ultimately makes NBA Live 18 a lot more smooth as you level up your skills and subsequently your OVR rating. Your player’s core skills are based on the “class” of sorts (Playstyle) you pick from the get go. You get two at first, but unlock more as you go and get points to spend when you level up. Here you unlock more customization options (mostly sneakers and animations) and gain percentage-based stat boosts. Abilities are separated by League and Streets, and unlock as you complete various actions. Doing those same actions upgrades those abilities and they definitely impact your game.

Beyond The One, you have several other play options at your disposal, most of them familiar to EA Sports veterans. You have the Ultimate Team mode that makes appearances in other games such as Madden, which lets you build a team with collectible cards as you play, as well as a more traditional and stats-y Franchise mode. The WNBA is also isolated in its own separate mode of play, so checking that out and seeing how the balance is tweaked oh-so-differently is a must.


Ultimately there’s a ton of content in NBA Live 18 for basketball and NBA nuts. While it doesn’t have something comparable to Madden’s Longshot, making it more accessible and distinct, there’s still a ton here to do and enough variance that different kinds of players will probably find something to latch onto. For me, it was The One for sure, with its hodgepodge mix of RPG elements, character customization, and a more casual style of play. When I ran into issues, it usually felt like I had the deck stacked against me in a nasty cocktail of RNG, tough opponent AI, and bumbling teammate AI all working together to take my pride down a notch. A more integrated set of learning tools would have been nice, but the game is simple enough at the beginning to make ergonomic, video game language-style sense, which is a plus compared to the much more complex stylings of Madden or NHL. There’s an uphill battle for this one to stand up to the NBA 2K Juggernaut, but it has a chance this time for sure.

Lucas White
Contributing Writer
Date: 09/14/2017

Generally on the same high level of quality you’d expect from an EA Sports game. Sometimes some weird faces show up, and a few other hiccups make it seem a bit less polished.
Relatively simple, but poorly introduced and explained, and poor balance compounds frustration.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Typical sports game fare, although the First Take segments are very well-produced.
Play Value
The content volume here is almost overwhelming.
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Express yourself with customization and depth, defining your signature style on the court. Master your role and create your unique player DNA using a combination of playstyles, skills and traits to execute moves only you can pull off. Unlike other sports games, NBA LIVE 18 delivers distinctive player variety within the community, offering balanced and authentic gameplay match ups across the court.
  • Seamlessly play and progress your player through a true representation of basketball, bringing together the lights and spectacle of the NBA in The League and the flash and style represented across iconic courts in The Streets.
  • From east coast to west coast, from The Streets to The League, your career progress is reflected by your ONE Score. See where you rank amongst the community and stake your claim as THE ONE.

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