September…The Fall season is here, and football and basketball have arrived, but for us baseball fans, it’s still MLB The Show season as well.
This season there’s a lot of competition for our Fall free time with a bunch of games, including some really good sports games. Games like Madden 19, NBA 2K19, NBA Live, NHL 19, Golf Club 2019, F1 2018 and NASCAR 3, just off the top of my head. Not to mention the non-sports games like Spiderman and a bunch of others to take our time away. MLB the Show has been the console gamer’s baseball game of choice for years, and rightly so. It’s had the market to itself for years besides the sim text-based OOTP Baseball series which to baseball fans is the holy grail of simulation baseball games.
This years iteration of The Show has been revised and critiqued many times over since release in March, so I’m not here to do another review, but instead a look back at what worked, what didn’t, and what gamers–especially gamers like myself–want in the future.
Disclaimer: I am an “older gamer,” and my focus is and has been since I grew up in the days before the ultimate team modes, franchise mode. The sports games that I mentioned earlier all have one big thing in common, except for NBA Live 19, and that is additions and revisions to franchise mode, some being quite significant.
F1 2018 may have the single-best franchise mode in any console sports game ever. NBA 2K (series) is amazing and extremely deep and gets deeper every year. NHL 19 added and amazing scouting system and is getting better and better. Even Madden made some nice strides with franchise mode this year.
The Show’s single player plays a good game of baseball. Hitting is an opportunity more online than offline. Let’s get that out of the way: Strategic in-game decisions, roster moves, and more come into play and are executed pretty well, for the most part, and the CPU plays a smart game of baseball on the field. You still see some questionable bullpen management on occasion, but nothing too crazy. Online play is a different story and an article for another day.
Franchise mode received some front-end love this year making it cleaner, faster, and more accessible to the casual gamer, and I like it. Under the hood, the game has seen some love in the sim areas as well and some other tweaks. Nice additions, but franchise gamers want more.
As a person who helps bring the most popular rosters for MLB The Show to the community for years, my first want is more customization.
Let’s start with managers. We should be able to customize and create managers just like we create players, appearances, and even traits. Hitting coaches, pitching coaches and even minor league instructors should also be editable. This would be a huge addition to immersion. As far as team rosters , we are stuck with 90 for each team and have been for years. I have been told it’s a limitation that can’t change. I ask, “Why not?” Let’s expand to 120. Even if we can’t get another playable level such as playable A-ball, which would again be one of the coolest features a game like The Show can add, let’s at least get expanded rosters. We can stash and add younger prospects. Ages should be able to be adjusted below 18 years of age as well. If teams sign 15-16 year olds in real life, let us have players those ages we can stash at lower levels. Customization, customization, and more customization–SCEA, that’s what we want.
As far as graphics–player models and the like–the game looks good…that’s good not great. Player models need improvement, and the game needs to pop in 4K and HDR. Look at how Madden 19 just pops off the screen.
The franchise interface is much better, SCEA, please keep refining it. Refine the lower levels of minor league baseball, maybe add minor league awards (that could boost progression?). You have the license to do it, we would love to see it. Stadium creation or editing of stadiums would be another great addition. Let us edit minor league stadium names, create our own stadiums and even share them.
I know these are huge asks, but are they unreasonable considering what a game like NBA 2K has in franchise mode? No, I don’t think so. MLB the Show is my favorite game of all-time, has been for years. It’s September, and it’s into the rotation less than it has been in years, and that’s not just for me, it’s for others as well. We love this game, we love this franchise, the developers clearly love the game of baseball. We want more, even a little at a time. Baseball is a game of history and is a game unlike any others. MLB The Show the last few years has been on the verge of something really great…so why not make history?
Photo courtesy of PlayStation.com