NBA Live’s return has hardly been the stuff of legend. After the cancellation of NBA Live 13, EA needed to make NBA Live 14 something special. Instead it was almost universally panned by both fans and critics for serious gameplay and graphical issues, and was a commercial flop. That hasn’t stopped them rolling up their sleeves and trying again with NBA Live 15.

Sean O’Brien, the game’s Executive Producer, felt the need to give fans of the franchise another open letter, following on from last year’s apology for the failings of NBA Live 14. Thankfully he has some positives to share. Visible on the EA Sports site, O’Brien starts off by announcing that NBA Live 15 will be available on October 7, just in time for the start of the NBA season.

He then reiterates that the team is aware of the flaws of NBA Live 14, namely the 5-on-5 gameplay, which “didn’t have the depth and polish of an EA SPORTS game,” and the visuals, which he admits “just weren’t up to the expectations for a next-gen title.” O’Brien then reassures fans that these issues have been taken on board.

So what has the team done to combat these issues? Well the open letter offers some explanation, with details about EA’s progress. Work on player head scans is nearly done, with scans being completed with a “majority of the league,” and apparently NBA Live 15 will offer new player models and lighting that will leave fans “pleasantly surprised” with the graphical improvements.

NBA Live 14 Screenshot

O’Brien also gives a hint at how EA has improved the gameplay experience. “We want teams to play just like their real-world counterparts,” says O’Brien, “and to that end we’ve spent a lot of time this season talking with NBA coaches to better understand their schemes and philosophies.” Alongside this tactical insight, which EA hopes to “implement in-game”, the team hopes to improve the flow and responsiveness. According to O’Brien, the “shooting, passing and dribbling all feel much better this year.”

We are also teased with a brief rundown of when further information will be released. EA will offer up a first look at the gameplay details in July, before continuing with a more in-depth insight “through August and September.” O’Brien promises that there will be plenty of content “popping up” on the NBA Live website, and hints at “hands-on previews” at sports and gaming outlets. Finally, he thanks the fans for all their “feedback, encouragement and positivity,” and admits that “we know we’ve got a lot to prove this year.”

EA certainly does have a lot to prove. There is a long way to go for the NBA Live series to reach the heights it once used to call home, particularly given the stranglehold that Take Two’s NBA 2K franchise has over the basketball sim marketplace. NBA 2K14 not only had stellar reviews and a BAFTA nomination for best sports game, but it was still in the top three of the best-selling game list as of April. NBA 2K15 is in the works, and is bound to offer stiff competition for NBA Live 15. Let’s see what EA can pull out of the bag.

NBA Live 15 will be available on October 7 on Xbox One and PS4.

Source: EA Sports