NBA 2K22's WNBA Career Mode is Great, but I Want More

Can we just get on with equality now please?

Key Takeaways

  • NBA 2K22 now has fully fleshed WNBA options.
  • The majority of content is exclusive to PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S.
  • It's still a huge step forward for women's sports.
WNBA character creator in NBA 2K22

Lifewire / Jen Allen

It's been a long time coming, but, finally, the NBA 2K franchise seems to have embraced the WNBA appropriately. NBA 2K22 has righted the wrongs of previous installments, adding more depth to its WNBA career modes and giving players a chance to be a bit more inclusive about how they play.

It's not perfect, lacking the finer details like achievements or trophies linked to such accomplishments, but it's a big step forward and one I'm a fan of. 

Starting Out in the WNBA

This isn't the first year that NBA 2K has provided players with the chance of controlling one of the 12 WNBA teams. First introduced in NBA 2K20, the feature felt like a huge step back then, but it was pretty limited. While the game offered all the relevant licensing and so forth, players only could use WNBA teams in the Play Now or Season modes of the game. It was pretty limited compared to what could be accomplished as a male player, but it was a start. 

WNBA character stats screen in NBA 2K22

Lifewire / Jen Allen

NBA 2K21 built on that but—again—it wasn't quite enough. It had a fairly basic WNBA career mode that wasn't exactly gripping. The only influence players had on their created basketball star's development was by playing well. It wasn't possible to set aspirational maximums for your attributes and work towards such plans, which was a pretty strange omission. 

Choosing a male basketball player gave a ton more options, including being able to participate in side-gigs between matches. It felt more well-rounded and made you feel as if you were truly in control of a future sports star.

NBA 2K22 has fixed all that, making the WNBA career mode much more like the NBA career mode. While it's likely players will still gravitate towards male players, thanks to them often being a bit more familiar to the average basketball fan, progress is steadily being made. 

Building Up Your Career

Picking the WNBA Career Mode—known as The W—rather than the more traditional option of the NBA, no longer makes you feel like you're missing out. I'm a casual player of basketball games, but an enthusiastic one, much like my love of FIFA games. I'll never compete with the best online players out there, but since the early days of playing basketball games on the Sega Genesis, I have a soft spot for the sport.

By comparison, right now FIFA is pretty limited when it comes to representation. FIFA 22 finally will allow players to create a female virtual pro to be used in Pro Clubs, but otherwise, it's pretty limited. Players can't even play as teams in the Women's Super League or National Women's Super League. 

NBA 2K22 felt like a breath of fresh air when I loaded it up. A little part of me grumbled at how MyWNBA is located at the bottom of the opening screen, but it's there and it's packed with options. Within seconds, you can create your own female player and nothing feels any different than going the male route. 

WNBA career mode in NBA 2K22

Lifewire / Jen Allen

Like with the male career mode, you participate in a series of matches in a bid to become better as you play, but you also get to take part in off-the-court activities, too. It's all part of the NBA 2K series's plan to offer more role-playing style qualities because—after all—basketball players have to do more than just play the game. They also need to consider sponsorships and lifestyle choices in a bid to strengthen their brand. There's also the need to partake in drills and scrimmages to build chemistry with the rest of the team. 

This is a fairly well organized mode and one that means you don't miss out on a thing by "daring" to want to go down the WNBA route of playing. 

If you feel like developing your management career instead, there's also the MyWNBA franchise management mode, which feels similarly full of features and potential. 

Welcome to Badges

The WNBA career mode also now offers a badge progression system like the regular MyCareer mode. By taking part, you can enhance skills in four different categories encompassing finishing, shooting, playmaking, and defense. Earn points to unlock them and you can equip the boosts to improve your abilities. It's all typically RPG-like in nature, but something so many games skip when it comes to sports games that include women. 

So, What's the Catch?

NBA 2K22 sounds like a dream come true for anyone wishing to embrace women's sports, and it kind of is. At a time when there's no other competition for this area, it's certainly a huge breath of fresh air. However, there are limitations.

Notably, The City—NBA 2K22's open-world mode that brings players together—doesn't unify the genders, so segregation remains. Alongside that, NBA 2K22 offers a game cover with Candace Parker on it, but she's not there as standard. Again, that annoying glimpse of segregation when so much has been achieved.

In-game texting in NBA 2K22's WNBA career mode

Lifewire / Jen Allen

The ultimate issue though? Almost everything I've laid out is only available on the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 versions of the game. If you have an older console or a PC, your WNBA options are much more limited. So, women are still being left as second best here.

That hopefully will change over time. After all, the WNBA only was founded in 1996, and things have changed drastically since then, including salaries and even how the game is played. 

Still, there's little reason why things can't change faster. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction.

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