NBA Playgrounds is the latest basketball basketball game to try to tap in to the sheer fun of the sport, following in the footsteps of much-loved titles like NBA Jam. This time around, the big-headed players take the hook shot action shot to the old school nets of playground all around the world with decent arcade style gaming and classic 2-on-2 gameplay.
While on the face of things, you’d imagine it to be an easy game to get started, with a simple introduction, but unfortunately it’s actually a bit of a faff. To make things a little easier, here’s our tips on getting started in NBA Playgrounds and how to unlock the online mode.
Introduction to NBA Playground
If you’re anything like us, the first you want to do when you fire up NBA Playgrounds is to get straight online to bring the noise against actual gamers in multiplayer games. Unfortunately the game hold you back to begin with, so you’ll need to jump through a few hoops first before you get to test yourself on the international stage.
In fact, if you’ve got the Nintendo Switch version of the game, the online mode has still not been released for the game so you’re just going to have to wait for now. Developers, Saber Interactive, and publishers, Mad Dog Games, will be patching it in shortly. However if you’re playing the PlayStation 4, Xbox ONE or PC version of the game you can unlock the online mode by following the tips in the next section below.
When you first start out, the game kicks things off with an exhibition match to introduce you to all of the controls and general gameplay features. The first job, though, is to collect your first NBA cards which will give you the players within those cards to play with. The system may seem like it’s some kind of DLC pay for players type deal, but it’s not. You get extra card packs by completing tournaments and winning games, and there’s a total of 200 NBA superstars and legends to collect.
NBA Playgrounds intro video, hints & tips:
It’s worth checking out their stats to find out who are going to be the best from your selection. A good approach is to pick one player with good dunk stats and one with good 3-point percentages to maximise your point scoring opportunities.
Once you’ve got your player selected, you then take on your first exhibition match to get to grips with the shooting system, which can be a little fiddly to begin with. It takes a little practice to get right, so you really need to time your release well and learn from the Early and Late calls whenever you miss.
The exhibition match will also introduce you to dribbling, passing and the crossover move to deliver some silky skills to make space for a shot. Finally the the tutorial will also introduce the Lottery Picks system, which gives you special moves and rewards to use. You build up a meter to unlock this by doing great dunks and perfect shots. This gives features like double points and guaranteed three pointers, which can come in handy when you eventually unlock the online mode.
One of the most important elements in NBA Playgrounds is the stamina metre below each of your players. You’ll need to manage this really well to make the most of it during gameplay action.
You need a full bar of stamina to be able to sprint for long enough to do some damage, but more importantly you need this to pull off a perfect push move o steal the ball. This can literally mean the difference between winning and losing, and it’s probably the most important factor to getting the upper hand over your opponent over and above mastering the perfect shot.
When you’ve completed the tutorial exhibition game you’ll unlock the tournament mode which will see you going head-to-head against AI players in a four match run to the final. The tournament is set in locations around the world ranging from New York City to the blossom trees of Tokyo. As long as you’ve been able to master the skills from the exhibition game, you should be able to take on the tournaments pretty easily.
NBA Playgrounds gameplay trailer:
Unlocking the online mode in NBA Playgrounds
As we mentioned earlier, if you’ve got the Nintendo Switch version of NBA Playgrounds then the online mode isn’t available as of yet. However for the rest of you, it’s pretty easy to unlock the online mode and to do this you simply need to win two matches in the tournament mode.
The opening tournaments in the game is set in New York and it’s relatively straightforward to pick up the game wins you need. However, if you’ve been struggling to drop enough shots to take the wins then you can follow some of our hints and tips for beginners below below.
NBA Playgrounds hints and tips for beginners
By far the most important factor in winning and losing when you’re playing NBA Playgrounds is getting the timing of the shots correct. There’s a really short threshold for error, so you’ve got to time it exactly right to sink your buckets. What you’re looking for is to release shots when you’re at the top of your jump.
The good news is that the game does give you some pointers as you play, so if you release early or late it tells you about it. Keep practising to get your timing right and this will start to feel like second nature.
The second tip is to keep an eye on your stamina gauge because you’ll need to use this effectively for both offense and defense. Getting well timed pushes in to steal the ball can have a big impact on the result, so it’s good to keep reserves of stamina to be able to get the turnovers you need to turn the game in your favour.
Equally, it’s useful to be able to spin past somebody when you get in the opposition half, so it’s wise to have a slow buildup play instead of dashing all the way down the field. Stamina will also mean you being able to throw out elbows to give yourself lots of space for a shot, as well as freeing you up to pull off an epic dunk when you get close to the board, so it should be a crucial part of your match strategy.
The last of our tips for beginners playing NBA Playgrounds is that it’s all about hussle in defence. If you’re hitting shots well enough then you should be able to keep pace with the competition, which means the big difference will be all about how much you steal. A big part of this is switching well between your players and mashing the steal button for all its worth.
Throw in a few pushes here and there to mix things up, but make sure you time them well, because they burn through stamina. Trying to get into a good position for rebounds is tricky, but it’s worth doing the best you can for this. However, if you focus on steals and pushes, you should be able to turn the tables pretty easily.