PS5 gameplay looks amazing in NBA 2K21 trailer — now this is next-gen

NBA 2K21
(Image credit: 2K)

The handful of PS5 games we've seen in action leading up to the system's November 12 launch have been pretty impressive. However, none of the crop of incoming PS5 games have shocked and amazed more than the latest NBA 2K21 trailer, which reveals an astonishing amount of detail for 2K Sports' flagship basketball title. The lengthy bit of footage, shown running on the PlayStation 5, is nothing short of jaw-dropping. 

From the moment the NBA 2K21 YouTube clip begins, you'll find yourself wondering whether you're watching a recording of a crowd swarming around the basketball players that tower over them, or if it's the game. It's easy to be fooled. Steph Curry is especially detailed, as is Klay Thompson, with both Golden State Warriors moving about the court in one of the most convincing ways possible. Developer Visual Concepts seems to have gone the distance when it comes to bringing some of the most detailed scenes in sports game history to life, and it shows. 

In some cases, such as watching players mingle with others on the court and jockeying for position, it's extremely difficult to tell where the game ends and real life begins. There is some expected wonkiness to be had in some of the unnaturally fluid moments as the game gets underway, but photorealism permeates nearly every aspect of the trailer in some truly astonishing ways. 

The timeout segment alone is indicative that we'll be in for some exciting creations when the PS5 is out in the wild. Watching all the moving, detailed pieces come together in a veritable ballet of graphical goodness in this trailer is hugely satisfying. Though it's fascinating to watch the dance team trot out onto the court and workers putting out chairs, it's even cooler to see what appears to be a living, breathing crowd watching their favorite teams go head to head. 

Seeing this kind of tech in action is certainly an exciting prospect for would-be PS5 owners. If this is what the hardware can accomplish with a sports game, other genres should be able to achieve great things as well -- even if photorealism isn't the goal. 

Higher, more consistent frame rates for console players will ensure that NBA 2K21 looks and feels more like realistic sports. It's been difficult in the past for consoles to reach a smooth frame rate simultaneously with consistently awe-inducing graphics. 

With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, both systems should pack enough power to ensure the game is aesthetically appealing as well as powerful enough to offer the fluidity and believable motion you'd want to see out of a sports title. Additionally, with ray tracing capabilities, even smaller aspects like lights reflecting off the basketball court (a particularly well-polished one) will offer deeper layers of realism and immersion, which both systems will be able to provide. 

NBA 2K21 is already available on current-gen consoles like Xbox One and PS4, as well as PC. You can pick it up when the next-gen consoles arrive on PlayStation 5 on November 12 and Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on Nov. 10.  

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.