MLB The Show 19 Articles RSS Feed | MLB The Show 19 RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network MLB The Show 19: One of Modern Gaming's Finest RPGs Tue, 01 Oct 2019 10:23:47 -0400 Jonny Foster

As a tea-drinking, crumpet-eating Brit, my first peek into the world of baseball was through a crack in mainstream gaming with Mario Superstar Baseball on the Nintendo Gamecube.

Britain barely plays baseball or has much interest in the sport at all. So, despite my experience with MSB, the flame that initially grew so bright eventually flickered and died.

Since then, no baseball game has made me want to dust off my cleats and take to the diamond. As someone who only vaguely understood the rules of baseball and had no real-life experience with the sport, baseball games always seemed pretty uninviting outside of that singular experience. 

The RBI Baseball series felt like a daunting simulator, and even MLB games under the usually approachable 2K banner gave off the same impression. 

That all changed with MLB The Show.

Though the series as a whole only offered vague appeal in recent years, MLB The Show 19 changed all of that. Sony's latest has enough luster and shine to tug at my purse strings, though it’s done far more than just that. In no small way has it reignited my love of the sport and propelled me into fanaticism  even an ocean away. 

Ozzie Albies of the Atlanta Braves rounds the bases in MLB the Show 19

As I’ll go on to explain, MLB The Show 19 is clearly the years-long culmination of steady improvement by Sony’s San Diego studio. 

Conquest mode was added to the series in 2016; the 2017 installment made great strides in modernizing Franchise and Diamond Dynasty; and MLB The Show 18 played a significant role in making Road to the Show what it is today.

But MLB The Show 19 has packaged everything together, wrapped it up neatly, and delicately placed a shiny bow on top. In essence, MLB The Show 19 is a game with the power to appeal to a much larger crowd than those in the United States. It casts a net far wider than just baseball fans, too.

With 2019’s MLB playoffs stepping up to the plate this week, we’ll have a perfect storm of new interest in the sport — and The Show 19 will be there to meet the demand, especially as one of the free game's for PlayStation Plus in October. 

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

You can clearly see the appeal in MLB The Show 19’s newest mode, March to October, which streamlines baseball’s marathon seasons into sprints for playoff success. It’s the perfect way to make 160+ matches of baseball palatable to a casual crowd, but the real star of the show is still the ever-popular Road to the Show mode. 

On the surface, Road to the Show might look like any other sports game’s create-a-player campaign mode. You start by customizing your player, selecting your playing position and strengths, and working your way through the minor leagues. Mostly, you have to start somewhere, and the first few seasons you play won’t be for the big-name MLB teams you’ve heard of. 

No one gets plucked out of high school and starts pitching for the Yankees the next day. You need to show your worth against weaker competition before you get a shot with the big boys. 

Now that I’ve made the mode sound sufficiently grueling and arduous, let me explain why it’s the most engaging, fundamentally intriguing campaign mode I’ve ever seen in a sports title.

You see, lurking beneath the leathery surface of this baseball title is ...

A Well-Disguised Western RPG

You aren’t just taking your budding superstar through a monotonous series of matches, going yard and throwing fireballs until your fingers fall off. You have control over your character’s personality and their relationships; you face trials and complete minigames that diversify your playing experience and keep the gameplay feeling fresh. 

This is particularly evident from one of the newest features: dynamic challenges.

Throughout otherwise run-of-the-mill matches, challenges pop up that allow you to earn bonus experience to improve your player. You’re usually given the choice of three similar tasks that get progressively harder but will offer more reward in return. 

These range from “don’t let the other team score during this inning” to “hit a home run off the next pitch,” and they can trigger at just about any time. This revitalizes your interest in the game moment to moment, continually giving you new reasons to push forward. 

And you do it all while steadily improving various stats based on your playstyle, giving you increased autonomy of your player’s abilities. Even during your training sessions, you’re given multiple options of which stats to prioritize as well as the occasional accompanying minigame to bolster your performance.

As for the social aspects, they aren’t precisely Mass Effect-level decisions that have rippling repercussions throughout your player’s story, but there’s more depth there than I was expecting. You’re given control over select conversations with your teammates, managers, or agents, and can choose responses that will further one of four personality archetypes. 

By antagonizing the opposition, you can pursue a Maverick persona, or you can spur on your teammates and keep a cool head if you want to earn points towards the Captain perks.

That’s right, Road to the Show has a skill tree and perks that affect your playing style. These offer bonuses like stronger home-field advantage or more lenient umpires that can boost your on-field performance. 

You’re left with a surprising level of control over your player’s path to the Bigs, and by the time you get there, you’ll be hungry to make a name for yourself and prove you’ve earned that spot. 

It certainly helped that I’d had a previous interest in baseball, however minor it may have been. Still, I genuinely believe MLB The Show 19 can be enjoyed by everyday gamers and non-sports fans around the world.

While there's standard play, a strategy game in Conquest mode, and a card game in Diamond Dynasty to draw in even more players from outside the sports genre, The Show's most compelling aspect is its surprisingly deep RPG elements.

If you’ve never touched a sports game in your life and you despise the genre, this version still might not be for you. But if you’ve never tried a baseball title before or haven't stepped up to bat in a season or three, now might be the perfect time to build your own field of dreams.

For a deeper dive into MLB The Show 19, head over to our official review.

Days of Play Returns in June With Special Edition PS4, Discounted Games Wed, 29 May 2019 16:41:49 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Sony's Days of Play is making a comeback again this year, running from June 7 to June 17 and offering a number of deals and discounts. Oh, and a shiny new, limited edition PlayStation 4 model.

The new PS4 model was initially announced during Sony's second State of Play episode. It sports the usual black color, but with a steel aesthetic plus the classic PlayStation symbols (X, O, Triangle, and Square) embossed in silver on the top. There's a matching two-tone DualShock 4 Wireless Controller to go with it as well.

The system has the standard 1TB hard drive and will retail for $299.99 starting June 7.

The PS4 Pro, controllers, and VR bundles will be getting discounts during the Days of Play 2019 event as well.

The Pro normally costs $399.99, but will sell for $349.99 while the event lasts, and DualShock 4 wireless controllers of all color varieties will be available for $39.99.

VR bundles will go for $249.99. The blog post doesn't mention what bundles will be included, though promotional materials are showing Trover Saves the Universe and Five Nights at Freddy's VR included with the VR headset.

On top of that, some of the PS4's biggest recent hits are getting discounted for Days of Play. The following titles will be available for $19.99:

Some select PlayStation Hits titles will be discounted even further too, to $9.99. The accompanying Days of Play blog post shows The Last of Us, Ratchet and Clank, Bloodborne, and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End as included titles, but as of yet, there's no official list. Also, despite the blog saying the games are available at that price now, they're still listed for the usual $19.99 on the PSN Store.

There seem to be a few details still missing from the announcement, but with June 7 right around the corner, we'll doubtlessly be getting more information soon.

MLB The Show 19 Review: Another Season of Your Favorite Show Thu, 04 Apr 2019 13:49:11 -0400 RobertPIngram

The days of true parity in the realm of sports games is long since past for most in the genre, and baseball is no different. MLB The Show 19 is the latest entry of the lone ace left standing on the mound, and on a broad level, it mostly delivers more of the same.

This is not entirely a bad thing. In past years, The Show established itself as the most accurate simulation of the sport available. Part of this can be chalked up to the nature of baseball, which features fewer interacting players at any given point, with most plays needing only a few players behaving correctly. That's compared to something like football, where a single snap features all 22 players making a contribution.

However, credit is also due to the minds behind The Show, who have fine-tuned their game throughout the years in order to deliver such a realistic experience.

The latest edition comes with more small tweaks to gameplay, though players familiar with prior editions will likely find that there’s not much to relearn. Although work has been put in to improve the feel of playing in the field, ultimately, this is The Show that you’ve come to know.

New players, on the other hand, can take advantage of a comprehensive but well-integrated tutorial system. Rather than bombarding you with a series of screens showing the different controls for different phases of the game, MLB The Show 19 instead puts you right in the action and begins to teach as you play.

While this can make your opening innings feel like the kind of stuttering, long-dragging experience the MLB is working to remove from the real game, it’s a welcome offering if your last baseball game experience involved a single button to pitch and a single button to swing.

The game even responds dynamically, holding off on tutorials until you naturally encounter a need for them, rather than forcing situations on you, or teaching something you will then have to remember for a while before you use it for the first time.

Pace of Play Improvements

One of the major drawbacks of playing a baseball game is that the nature of the sport can make it a marathon endeavor. At minimum, every full-length game needs to see 51 batters put away, let alone additional bats if the home team needs their ninth inning, and for every runner who gets on base.

Even with video games allowing you to cut out some of the downtime between pitches, as more realistic features have been added through the years that also meant expanding time between pitches. Compared to a game of FIFA or Madden, the average The Show contest simply takes longer.

This becomes even more complicated when it comes to playing out an entire season. Even if you play only a fraction of your team’s schedule, that still leads to many more games than your average season in the NFL.

Enter the newest addition to the franchise, March to October.

This mode is perfect if you’re looking to live the thrill of a full campaign, but lack the time to commit to an unabridged version. In March to October, you play out only the key moments of your chosen squad's season.

This limits your time commitment in two ways. First, you don’t take part in every game. Second, you don’t play the full nine innings when the time comes to take the field.

Instead, you are dropped into the middle of the game, usually in the late innings, tasked with seeing it out. You may control the entire team, down late, or an individual player, like a pitcher holding onto a no-hitter with all of his might.

The better you do in these games, the better your team will perform in the simulated games between then and your next key moment. String enough successful games together and your team will catch fire, going on a tear through your simulated games.

In between games, your progress is tracked through a stripped down menu. Rather than pouring over league stats and standings, you are instead faced with a simple win projection, as well as the number of wins you need in order to hit certain milestones of postseason positioning. Over the course of the year, your progress is tracked by the changing of those projected numbers.

While more hardcore players may not enjoy the abbreviated games, it’s an outstanding mode for any player looking to play out a year without having to play the game all year. And the game makes it easy to move the team over to a full franchise season after you complete it if you want a deeper dive.

The Big Dogs are Back

If you’re looking for something more demanding than the abbreviated games in March to October, don’t worry. Both Diamond Dynasty and Road to the Show are back for another year.

The online Dynasty mode has its fingers in most of the other modes you may choose to play, with new unlockables earned even when not taking part in the Dynasty mode. It also features the Risk-like conquest mode where you battle over hexagonal-grid maps.

Like Risk, you earn fans, the game’s answer to armies, based on the area you currently control, and you can use them to conquer neighboring regions. What you can also do, however, is win territories through baseball. The better your numerical advantage in the tussle, the more options you have for your opponent’s difficulty. If you’re even, you may be forced to face off with a full-strength opponent, but come in with a significant numbers edge and you can take them on in a Rookie-level challenge.

Road to the Show is also back for more, with minor tweaks which have varying effectiveness for keeping things fresh. The addition of personality types, like Maverick or Captain, offers the opportunity to unlock special abilities for your player. These traits are leveled up by regularly behaving in a certain way regularly. Answer questions like an egotistical star and watch your Lightning Rod rating level up.

While the skill tree is fun in practice, it makes your social interactions feel less real. The responses are a bit overwritten in order to meet the specific archetype, leading to unnatural responses. The game also adds new challenges for your player, which allow you to speed up your development by satisfying specific goals in a game or at bat. The harder the goal set, the more rewards waiting for you if you succeed.

Not So Momentous Moments

As an added feature on top of the game’s more traditional modes, it’s hard to complain too much about the new Moments mode, but it’s also easy to wish there was just a bit more invested in it, as well.

In Moments, you take over in a series of predesigned scenarios, with moments coming in a variety of modes. The Innings Moments are a series of time-sensitive challenges played out with your Diamond Dynasty team against MLB greats. The debut features Andruw Jones, Ty Cobb, and Goose Gossage, with players tasked first with besting the legends. They're then offered challenges playing as them if they succeed.

The game also introduces four legendary series of Moments, with Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, the 2016 Cubs, and Bryce Harper’s rookie season highlighted.

As enjoyable as some of the Moments can be, the mode is not without its flaws. Playing as Ruth drops you into a black-and-white world, with Ruth’s shuffling run reproduced wonderfully — but your opponents are generic cookie cutters. Other challenges see recent but retired legends squaring off with the players of today. It’s not game-breaking, but it is immersion breaking.

The shorter challenges also suffer for drama. While a situation like the one presented in Bryce Harper’s Philly debut — down a run, bases loaded, and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning — represent as high of stakes as there can be in a real game, they fall flat in Memories.

Your task is a success or failure immediately after one at-bat, meaning that with the very quick reset times following failure, you’re presented with a task which simply amounts to taking a series of at-bats until eventually, you get the desired hit. When your total time investment prior to almost recreating Babe Ruth’s famous called shot was one button press, it’s hard to be that bummed at failure.

All told, Moments is still a pleasant addition to the game, even if the quality varies greatly from one to another. As a style of mode which dates all the way back to recreating Super Bowl classics in early 2000’s Madden games, it’s a wonder why more sports titles don’t still offer similar modes.

Calling in the Closer

  • Lifelike simulation of a real major league baseball game
  • March to October makes a full campaign more accessible than ever
  • Road to the Show remains a premier sports solo campaign mode
  • Gameplay changes feel minimal if you already own The Show 18
  • Some memories fall flat
  • Microtransactions hang over Diamond Dynasty mode

So, should you buy MLB The Show 19? That depends on which of three camps you fall into.

Players who are used to picking up every edition with the knowledge there may not always be massive overhauls to gameplay can make their purchase confidently. This is still the same excellent baseball game you know and love, just a little different, and a little better. Similarly, anyone who has not bought a new baseball game for several years should consider giving the latest, greatest edition a try.

Where things get complicated is in between the two. If you’re not inclined to automatically make the switch every year, and have The Show 17 or 18 sitting on your gaming shelf already, you can give this a pass. It’s a fine game, and you would enjoy your time with it, but the same can likely be said when MLB The Show 20 drops, only you’ll probably enjoy that one just a little more.