Comparing the NBA 2K18: The Prelude and NBA Live 18 Demo

Sep 11, 2017 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Your vote
NBA 2K18: The Prelude and NBA Live 18 Demo are both playable today. Let’s take a look at how each of them hold up! WWGDB - Comparing the NBA 2K18: The Prelude and NBA Live 18 Demo

This year, two basketball games will be released on the Playstation 4, XBox One, PC and the other last-gen consoles. One is the complete underdog the NBA Live 18 and the reigning favorite, NBA 2K18. If you are torn between the two, you can grab both of their demo versions for free online and try it out. However, if you don’t have enough time to sit and make your own conclusions, we have you covered.

2K18 vs Live 18

Kyrie Irving 2K18

Before we dive into what the demos provide though, let’s talk a little about both games and their backstories first. The NBA 2K series are absolutely dominating the market, and is touted as having better gameplay, animations, and presentation than NBA Live (by EA Sports) always had. Unfortunately, 2K has been hounded with a number of issues, like the constant few-gigabyte updates dished out every week and the exorbitant amount of microtransactions. All of these may likely be brought over to 2K18.

The NBA Live franchise meanwhile may have been a bigger name back in the day, but it has stayed in the shadows since 2007. Live’s quality has always been inferior to that of 2K ever since. With the rather disastrous NBA Live 16, EA has bounced back with NBA Live 18, which is looking to be a much better product than its predecessors. Moreover, if you preorder the game before September 15, you’ll be given a 33% discount. The full game costs just $40 compared to 2K18, which is at $60.

Both games are bound to be released this September. NBA Live 18 will be on the 15th, while NBA 2K18 will be on the 19th, but it will be available via early-access on the 15th to the people who preordered it. With the “lore” of both games aside, let’s focus on the demos.


If there is one thing NBA Live 18 is much better compared to NBA 2K18: The Prelude, hands-down, it would be the presentation. Everything, from the text boxes, text message popups, and the transition animations on the user interface in Live 18 is superior compared to any of the recent NBA 2K games. You could say the same about the music: Live 18’s soundtrack includes Kendrick Lamar, 2 CHainz, and Rick Ross are part of it.

There’s really nothing wrong with NBA 2K18: The Prelude’s presentation elements: it’s normal, intuitive, and pretty decent. The soundtrack itself is standard for any 2K game. Unfortunately for 2K though, EA absolutely killed them in this front.

Graphics and Animations

James Harden Live 18

NBA 2K18’s demo showcased how far it is ahead compared to Live in this regard. The Prelude showed how much closer it is to being a simulation game, as compared to Live 18 which is more arcade-ish. That being said, 2K18’s facial and jumpshot animations, as well as soaring to the air to go for a dunk or a floater over a taller defender look more natural. Live 18 is getting there, but it looks stiff and though the faces and expressions are accurate, they still feel a little off.

The Gameplay

NBA Live 18’s demo absolutely WRECKED NBA 2K18: The Prelude. The reason is simple: Live 18 provided an almost complete gameplay experience, especially the online aspects. Basically, you will end up creating your player (there’s a face scan mobile app you can use), decide its primary skill set which will determine his identity, and play streetball with NBA stars. Moreover, you can also go online and actually play against other players or play the co-op mode, which has special events. There’s also the Drew League - a Pro-Am league circuit - which you will be taking part of as well. In addition, you can also play an exhibition game using either the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Demarr DeRozan NBA 2k18

Meanwhile NBA 2K18: The Prelude might be 12 GB in size, but it’s not worth the one hour and 30-minute worth of gameplay especially if you have a limited Internet cap. You will go through the similar basics: create a character and decide how he looks like. However, you will also get to decide what his two “archetypes” are. For example, you can create a rebounding stretch 4, or a pure playmaking and passing point guard. After which, you will get a taste of the new feature “The Neighborhood” by playing a series of games. You will then get a tryout for a team you picked in the character creation phase. Beyond that though, there’s only the 2KU which is simply a practice game between the Cavs and Warriors. You can’t go online to play against other people, which is a huge bummer.

Though Live 18 has more gameplay features than The Prelude, the mechanics still belong to the latter. Running around the court and actually playing basketball feels a lot smoother on the 2K18 demo. That being said, you still have to give props to Live 18: the new defending mechanic (which is set up like blocking attacks in a fighting game) is absolutely a joy.


NBA Live 18 cover

If 2K could stop writing basketball soap operas with utterly atrocious scripts, the game would be ten times better. The Prelude gives you a taste of the full game’s absurdity: from awful nicknames, dialogue you wouldn’t dare use in the real world, and characters that would instantly make you cringe. The story is terrible, and it would be best if you would focus on the on-court action rather than what is happening off it.

Meanwhile, Live 18 comes off as something that is believable. You’re a former college player who got injured and is now trying to make his way back into the NBA. You will do so through Pro-Am leagues and making a name for yourself on the streets.

Which is the better demo?

The NBA Live 18 Demo absolutely destroys NBA 2K18: The Prelude. With that said, you can definitely feel the love and effort put by EA into it, giving you an outstanding experience that can last for dozens of hours. The Prelude is decent for a demo, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what the Live 18 one brings to the table.

The demos have answered a lot of questions, but until the new games are released, we can never be sure of which of them is better. Will NBA Live 18’s new elements lure in new players? Will 2K18 still hold the majority of the market, or will its emphasis on microtransactions play a negative role? One thing is for sure though: competition will be tough in the years to come.

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