It’s been over a decade since we last smashed a killer serve in the TopSpin series, but 2024 will see the confident re-debut of TopSpin 2K25. This is a bombastic return that easily stands alongside its 2K brethren with a flashy, fun, and packed experience that has steadily become our most anticipated sports title of 2024 — and what’s even better is that it lands on PlayStation next month.

We were flown out to Paris last week to try out 2K’s latest ahead of its April 26th PS5 and PS4 launch. The excitement in the room was palpable — the devs are clearly proud of what they’ve cooked up here — and it wasn’t long before we were excited to check out the game ourselves. This in many ways is your standard 2K affair — think NBA or PGA Tour with tennis racquets and you’re on the right track. However, of course, with the 13 year gap between this and TopSpin 4, what exactly has changed (or stayed the same) with this series?

Game director Remi Ercolodi was keen to emphasise that TopSpin 2K25 still feels like TopSpin 4. This is a game that relishes in the sport and acts as a celebration at just about every turn. From John McEnroe acting as your trainer while you learn the basics, to Serena Williams and Roger Federer — the game’s cover stars — performing their own motion capture.

Top Spin 2K25

The TopSpin Academy is where you’ll learn the basics, from launching a strong serve to aiming your shots. At the heart of it all, and the biggest change in TopSpin 2K25, is the swing time mechanic. With a hold of X, triangle, square or circle you must release your button within a small timing window, which dictates the quality of your shot. Timings cover “too late”, “too soon”, “good”, and “perfect”, and each is individualised by unique rumblings on the DualSense controller. Landing a perfect return shot is always satisfying thanks to Sony’s haptics.

2K’s reasoning for this change is to shorten rally time, which could get ridiculously long in past entries. It’s all in an effort to make 2K25 the most realistic tennis experience out there, but it does much more than that. Truthfully, it’s a system that will take some time for players to get used to, and it’s a delight to really have to consider positioning, swing directions, and of course the timing itself. Once things finally click, TopSpin becomes utterly engrossing. It’s the type of experience that’ll have you locked in, leaning from side to side, making William’s level grunts and furiously fist pumping the air after winning a gruelling set.

In the Exhibition Mode — where we spent our preview — you can play either singles or doubles matches across seven AI difficulty modes, and switch up aspects like venue, time of day, and match formats. The game is a ton of fun with an AI companion, but elevates to another level when playing with real players. We only had the time to try out a quick doubles match, but it proved to be a riotous affair and we can already envision the amount of hours that we’ll sink into the local multiplayer when it finally launches in April.

Top Spin 2K25

The whole experience is wrapped up in a vibrant and pristine visual package, which does veer into uncanny valley at times, but at a glance can look like the real thing. Across its 48 courts, including the likes of Wimbledon and Court Philippe Chatrier, players can take in the minutia, like scores on the court, the various player apparels, and recreations of entrance hallways at various arenas. There is a spot of pixelation regarding character models, but it’s the sort of thing you really need to lean in to see, and we’re hoping it’ll be ironed out come launch.

One aspect that has majorly stepped up from the TopSpin 4 days is the animation. As mentioned, big stars like Williams and Federer were confirmed to provide their own mocap, however, not every one of the big stars confirmed to appear could do the same. 2K says that it used semi-pro Czech players to fill out the majority of the mocap, but analysed videos of the various pros, so their unique play styles could be emulated. That means each of the real-life stars should serve, stride, and swipe like they do in real life, which paired up with the reworked serving and swing mechanics, makes 2K25 all the more immersive.

In terms of the stars you can expect to see, the game is splitting them into the categories of both legends and pros. This will be a mixture of former tennis champions such as John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, along with players like Coco Gauff, Frances Tiofoe, and Emma Radacanu. 2K is a little coy on the rest of the roster for the time being, but eight were present in our preview build.

Top Spin 2K25

Amidst all the real-life tennis stars you’ll be playing as, you’ll also be crafting up your own star in the MyCareer mode. Customising everything from height and hair to eyes and prosthetics, once you’ve carved out your own character, it’s up to you to make a name for yourself in the tennis scene. There will even be a feature that allows umpires to call you by a long list of selected names during your matches, which we think is pretty cool. We don’t know much else about the MyCareer mode at this point, but we’d expect something similar to the recent NBA 2K games.

The biggest intrigue of TopSpin 2K25 however is its live service leanings. Like its 2K brethren, TopSpin will have strong post-launch support with new venues, pros and legends, game modes, and, of course, season passes. We couldn’t help but spot the “Pro Shop” greyed out on the main menu too, so expect some microtransactions to make their way to the game. We’re quite excited by the potential of the post-launch support, but there are some of those annoying elements, like a night time variant of a court being locked behind pre-orders of the game. Hopefully, the purchasable aspects of TopSpin 2K25 find that balance of fun options rather than mandatory buys.

TopSpin 2K25 is a welcome return for the sporting genre. Although we saw just a portion of the game, it seems purposefully packed with plenty for tennis fans to sink their teeth into. It’s got a nice presentation style, the gameplay feels attuned and engrossing, and the post-launch promise excites us more than anything else. We already know we’ll sink an unreasonable amount of time into TopSpin 2K25, and we’ll be counting down the days till it smashes its way onto PS5 and PS4.

Will you be checking out TopSpin 2K25 when it launches on April 26th? Let us know down in the comments below.