In these strange times due to the global pandemic, we no longer associate spring with the return of baseball as we normally would in March.
Copy of game and images courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment
Except self-isolation at home can encourage our thumbs on our gamepads and the best way to experience spring baseball fever is with the return of SIE San Diego Studio’s The Show franchise.
Since 2006, exclusivity on Playstation has raised the bar for baseball simulation and the 2020 edition, at first glance, does not deviate from the path, quite the contrary. For this final single-console year, SIE has refined core mechanics on its simulation to lay the groundwork for the next generation of consoles as the graphics capabilities increase tenfold.
But before racing into the future, we must solidify the present and provide players with an optimal experience.
Truer than true baseball
The big changes this year in The Show are showing on the pitch and it feels good.
The behavior of defensive players has been reviewed and corrected in order to increase realism and avoid, as much as possible, redundancy and automatisms. Thus, a new approach at the level of the first steps of the players according to their skills widens the gap between the ordinary players and the players of exceptions. Same thing with relays and ball chases. What used to be an overlooked aspect of simulation is now a beautiful representation of skill gaps between players.
You notice these differences from the first game and the adjustment period will be noticeable even for more experienced players.
Another important change for the 2020 edition: batting mechanics. We’ve added a precision system that will reward the more skilled player while the hitter’s vision is enhanced by the ability to combine perfect contact with perfect timing to create the perfect shot based on your hitting skills. Thus, the most powerful will take the ball out on the other side of the fence while the most strategic will place the ball in play between the defenders.
It’s the kind of new approaches to batting that gives The Show a great sense of renewal without changing the basis of the game. These details do not detract from casual players, but will allow the more active to find good satisfaction in seek the perfect momentum with each presence.
An amusingly satisfying mechanic
Otherwise, we notice that SIE has significantly reached the visual limits of the PS4. It’s beautiful and fluid, but not so different from the 2019 edition. On the other hand, we really appreciate the attention to detail, the addition of new partners in terms of equipment and, above all, the addition of hundreds of new players in the minor ranks with real names and photos to get us out of the generic players furnishing the minor ranks in other editions.
It doesn’t change the way you play, but it really improves the experience when you have long seasons and you like to manage all aspects of your team.
A noticeable return
Another big novelty in 2020: the return of a franchise mode in COOP. Dropped from recent editions, the season with friends online is back and despite its lack of depth compared to the single-player campaign, there are plenty of hours of fun under the hood of this addition.
This return of a co-op franchise also underlines the strength of the single-player franchise which remains, again this year, the most stimulating experience in the game. The modifications are minor, if not non-existent, but the possibilities are endless or almost for more patient players. So why change a force.
The character creation is incredibly deep and the only downside that can be highlighted is the lack of the possibility of creating a stadium for your team. You have to dip into the existing bank.
An aspect that sets SIE apart from its competitor EA Sports, for example, and the less demanding emphasis on microtransactions. The famous “pay to win” is not so applicable in the Diamond Dynasty mode since it is possible to amass a lot of virtual currency just by playing the game and completing challenges.
It is possible to buy cards and players with money, but the costs are lower compared to the FIFA and Madden franchises, for example. It’s a lesser evil and a way of playing The Show that appeals to many players.
One could even say that the Diamond Dynasty mode deserves to be known and explored, but do not fall into the trap of burning your savings there. Instead, let yourself be guided by the freebies in the game and the possibilities at your fingertips. Unfortunately, the Showdown game mode is probably the most fun in Diamond Dynasty due to its drafting of players from all categories, but you have to pay a small fee to start the adventure. It’s annoying.
Always the same Road to the Show
If last year we were delighted with the new approach in the popular Road to the Show (RTTS) mode, we must admit that this year, it’s a bit of the same thing with the priorities in funny places.
There’s a lot of emphasis on relationships with your teammates in scripted and not very interesting chats. It quickly becomes tiresome to navigate through your discussions and choose the right answers to progress.
On the other hand, the addition of modifications to your statistics in real time during matches is very interesting.
MLB The Show 2020 doesn’t stray too far from the 2019 edition and is still a great game of baseball.
The lack of major changes could dampen the enthusiasm of many, but you won’t be disappointed if you’ve been waiting for your annual baseball fix with the release in March for the new season. If you skipped the 2019 edition, for example, 2020 will be a breath of fresh air for you.
There’s no real baseball on TV anyway, so you might as well hone your skills at the virtual version of America’s pastime.