With MLB: The Show making it’s long-awaited Xbox and next gen console debut, expectations are high for an upgraded baseball sim.
Sony’s critically-acclaimed franchise will be the first baseball simultation on the Xbox since Major League Baseball 2K13. With two months before the game’s release, little is known about any new features the game might have.
MLB: The Show 20 was my most played PlayStation game of 2020 with well over 100 hours. This is generally the case each year as I have owned pretty much every release from 2008 to 2020.
And now with the next generation of consoles upon us, I feel the developers can finally make some much-needed updates. Here are five improvements I feel could benefit the game moving forward.
Deeper Road to the Show Career
You can say what you want about the NBA 2K series but one thing is for sure, they’ve long offered something not many other sports games have up until recently; a story mode within My Career.
Admittedly, the MyCareer mode can get cheesy at times with inconsistent story quality on a year-to-year basis. My least favorite story came during the year Academy Award winner Spike Lee was involved.
It was cool to see him use the slimy agent from his 90s basketball film He Got Game but overall the story was over dramatic and non-consequential.
Choosing to go pro or play collegiately is an option for MLB: The Show but it’s not deep or overly impactful. You don’t get to play college games but rather just choose to stay and have the year in college simulated.
The hope is they will take a page out of 2K’s book and allow for an in-depth college system. Even when you’re in college you’re still interacting with friends, agents and coaches as you navigate your life and career.
For MLB: The Show to offer a vast upgrade they wouldn’t necessarily have to give you the option to go to an actual school. Instead, they could allow you to go to some no-name fake school and allow you to play some college games.
Conversely, if you choose to play the internationally, you could create a player and play in foreign leagues before making the leap to the bigs.
I’ve always felt the little pieces of story like this make the aspect of creating your own player feel that much more special and realistic. The Show has already implemented Role Playing elements into their game play for quite some time so why not continue to expand?
More Realistic Contact Negotiations
This is legitimately the worst and most unrealistic aspect of practically any sports game and MLB: The Show is no different. As someone who is an absolute transaction nerd, that’s deeply disappointing.
Currently contract negotiations are pretty much like any other sports game. You offer contracts to players until your hearts content and they either sign or they don’t. The contract offers are strictly a set amount of years for a set amount of money with no incentive-based bonuses.
Making contract negotiations more realistic seems logical due to the depth of Road to the Show and Franchise modes.
In my experience with Road to the Show, my player Jordan Wicky Jr played until he was 45 and retired after hitting 1000+ homers. His last season saw him hit 50 more homers, yet because of his age no one would take a flyer on him.
And while it may be unrealistic to see someone ever hit that many home runs in a career why would no one sign him? Surely an incentive-based contract would give a team like my hometown Minnesota Twins enough motivation to sign him.
All of this is in addition to the lack of multi-year offers I received once I hit my early-to-mid 30’s. My player had to accept one-year deals only and became a journeyman.
Hopefully Sony San Diego is willing to put in a little more time on this side. Small details like this tend to sour the realistic simulation of the game. This is one upgrade MLB: The Show could very much use.
MLB: The Show has done a terrific job of constantly upgrading their legends roster for Diamond Dynasty and Franchise modes.
Ever wanted to know what it’d be like to have Rickey Henderson bat lead off with Mike Trout batting third and Ken Griffey Jr cleaning up? Well, in The Show, you absolutely can have that dream outfield.
Unfortunately, the game has has some glaring omissions from it’s legends roster. Baseball greats such as Kirby Puckett, Doc Gooden and Hank Aaron have yet to get their proper due.
I would not be surprised to see Aaron appear in the game this year after passing away in January. I am curious to see what the team will continue to add.
Baseball has so many legends and with the MLB’s announcement that they will finally recognize the Negro League statistics, I would anticipate a big release this year or in the near future of past stars.
Adjustments in the Field
Sony San Diego took a big step in the right direction last year by adjusting how aggressive players are when going after a ball.
In MLB: The Show 20, if you’re playing as a highly-rated defensive player, you’re more likely to not only make the catch but make a more aggressive, all-out approach to do so.
The game’s defense isn’t without it’s limits, however. Certain plays like robbing a home run and diving for a ball has never been the most innovative or easy thing to do in the game.
There are also times where the game will force you into “normal baseball moments” such as errors, weird hops, etc. While I don’t hate this aspect of realism, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the randomness of it.
Perhaps utilizing the game’s “ShowTime” slow motion mode more would allow for a more player-controlled experience.
When NCAA Basketball 2010 came out, the best aspect of the game was the presentation. If you played weekend game you had a CBS presentation with Gus Johnson and Bill Rafferty on the call. If you played weeknight games, you’d get ESPN with Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler and Erin Andrews.
The game itself was mediocre but the presentation was absolutely top notch and we’ve not seen anything like that since.
MLB: The Show does include an option to have a standard or MLB Network presentation with the same announcing teams. With this being the one true baseball sim to rule them all, it’s time to incorporate other networks.
Imagine having a postseason broadcast with Joe Buck, Bob Costas or John Smoltz calling your game? The more realism the better in my mind.
I’d also love to see bigger post-game celebrations since the championship celebrations have long been the same cinematic.
I’d like to see locker room celebrations or maybe a bigger presentation of the trophy. There also needs to be more excitement from the commentary teams. Winning a championship in this game has largely felt like winning any other game. That may have been fine in 2008 but two generations later, it’s time upgrade.