MLB The Show 20 Review: A Triple to Left-Center
Baseball has always been a keen interest of mine, but baseball games never really appealed to me.
That was, until MLB The Show 19.
Six months ago, I wrote about MLB The Show 19's brilliant depth and diversity of modes, and how it gave me a near-endless variety of gameplay to dip into without feeling like I was completely out of my depth.
This year, MLB The Show 20 has expanded its presentation, modes, and more, and while none of the changes feel earth-shatteringly impactful, this is still the most extensive, feature-rich baseball title available.
MLB The Show 20 Review: A Triple to Left-Center
Let's start with new modes featured this year. One of the big-ticket additions is Showdown.
Doubling down on the extreme popularity of the acclaimed Battle Royale mode, MLB The Show 20 introduces another draft mode to Diamond Dynasty in the form of Showdown.
Showdown lets you draft players and perks before completing challenges to advance towards the Final Showdown against a legendary pitcher. The playable moments are all against the AI, which is a nice change, but it also appeared to be batting only.
Batting is by far the weakest portion of my game, so this was a little upsetting — especially after drafting ace pitcher Justin Verlander, only to find out it was a complete waste of a draft pick.
Showdown is still a great addition, though, as draft modes are a lot of fun and the rewards pour forth in droves.
You can also now set up Custom Leagues to square up against your friends online. While I didn't test this mode myself, I can see this being a big hit with friends and families that are states or countries apart but still want to regularly take to the mound to prove who's best.
There's a host of additions to singleplayer modes, too.
Franchise mode now has a customization suite for you to design your own team, complete with custom logo, kits, and colors, while March to October has been tweaked to provide more variety and improved pacing.
Road to the Show is the main draw for me, though — and many others, I'm sure — which I'm pleased to say has also received a fresh set of improvements.
Dynamic challenges and on-the-field moments now immediately display your stat changes with little bubbles above player's heads. They also affect player relationships now, which speeds up your progression through the perk tree, a significant improvement over the slower pace of last year's mode.
Seeing the first baseman's relationship with you improve in real-time, or watching your rivalry with a batter increase when you strike them out, helps captivate you in the spectacle of the game. You feel closer to your pro, more involved in their antics both on and off the field.
Those new popups can be hard to see from a distance, however — I actually had to move closer to my screen to make them out, but they were noticeable enough from 3 to 5 feet.
Finally, let's talk general gameplay changes.
The gameplay tweaks in MLB The Show 20 largely favor precision, so that those perfect swings or flawlessly-timed throws feel more effective.
There's a new Perfect/Perfect hitting tier for when your timing and alignment are at peak precision, and a new sliver on the throwing indicator to let you make those game-saving throws to home plate.
Now, I've already admitted my batting could use some improvement, so the new tier only ever triggered a few times during my time reviewing the game, but it definitely felt more rewarding whenever it did, enticing me to improve so I can perfectly nail more pitches in the future.
SIE San Diego has also added a new Extreme Catch Indicator whenever a line drive is dropping just short of a player; elite fielders will be able to layout and catch the ball with the perfect dive if you time it right, which is always a great spectacle.
Overall these changes aren't massive, and the game looks almost identical to MLB The Show 19 — with the exception of a few menu updates — but that doesn't detract from the sheer enjoyment of pitching a no-hitter or smashing one into the bleachers.
MLB The Show 20 Review — The Bottom Line
- Top-notch gameplay has only been improved by new indicators and precision timing methods
- New life has been given to existing modes, while new modes add extra flavor to keep things interesting
- Changes are fairly minor compared to last year's title
MLB The Show 20 still feels like the most complete baseball title available — comfortably so, in fact. But it doesn't feel like a significant evolution over last year's entry in the series.
But that's to be expected, right?
After all, MLB The Show 21 should be releasing on the PlayStation 5 next year, so hopefully, we'll see some game-changing improvements and additions for the next release.
Until then, MLB The Show 20 is definitely worth picking up for returning fans looking for their yearly fix, or for those that have missed the last few entries and want to jump back in.
Nothing feels broken, and the new additions — though relatively minor — all feel like steps forward for this grand slam franchise.