Every year America celebrates the start of summer at the end of March with the Major League Baseball season opener. This year, due to the current world health circumstances, that is not happening as is the case with almost all sporting events across the globe. Luckily, we can at least play a simulation of it with the annual release of MLB The Show 20.
New season, some changes
We didn’t receive a review copy of MLB The Show 19, so comparing the new iteration and seeing what changed over the last year is not possible, but we can at least give an opinion on this game, and how it has improved (or not) over the last two years. Unfortunately, the game still looks and feel a lot the same as The Show 18, meaning it doesn’t feel like too many improvements in terms of graphics and presentation has been made.
It’s not really a bad thing, as the game looked damn good two years ago, and it still holds out today. Character animations look good, the crowds look alive and dynamic, and it is an overall solid looking game. Just no real visual improvements.
In terms of gameplay however, MLB The Show 20 did make some notable changes. First off, the career mode, called Road to the Show, while still similar is no longer the main focus of the game, with a lot of the attention shifted over the Diamond Dynasty, the online mode of The Show. Road to the Show does have a few inclusions such as relationships and rivalries, but for the most part sees you play as a rookie, working his way up the ranks. The character creator for Road to the Show is pretty good, with a lot of options, or if you have a save from The Show 19, you can pick up where you left off last season.
Building a Dynasty
As mentioned, MLB The Show 20 focuses a lot on the online experience, and that does not necessarily mean PvP. I am happy to report that matchmaking is a lot better, even though it does take a bit of time. I don’t think it’s the game’s fault though, as it tried to match me with players based on ping, meaning I might have to wait sometime before connecting to a US-based player, the most likely candidate. Online play works, giving you enough time to try and strategise your team and tactics without being too much of a wait or annoyance for your opponent.
Diamond Dynasty, the card-collecting online mode, is where the meat and potatoes of this game sit, and it has a lot to do. There are several modes you can enjoy, especially if you’re a Major League Baseball fan and this is where you see who The Show 20 is really made for.
As mentioned, Diamond Dynasty is essentially a card collection game, where you try and build your ultimate All-Star team by completing challenges, playing matches, progressing in Road to the Show and so on. The more you do, and the better you are at it, the better the cards you’re going to get. The cards, similar to traditional baseball cards, come in packs or as we like to call them, loot boxes, and doesn’t always contain players, but also boosters and perks which you can give to your team.
You can earn these cards or packs either by completing things in the game or buying them with Stubs, the currency of the game. You also get stubs by completing challenges and game progression. Most of the things you can do are in Diamond Dynasty itself, like replaying moments in history, which I really enjoyed.
Moments are great, as they are short sessions with varying challenge and rewards, and have you do something special at a crucial time in a match to complete the challenge. You can do these one at a time, or as a long challenge, with each giving progressively more rewards as the challenge increase. The downside is, that if you fail, you have to start again from scratch.
Overall, the experience is pretty solid, but I do feel there is a slight problem where MLB The Show 20 does have a bit of a pay to win mechanic to it. You see, you can buy Stubs on the PlayStation Store, meaning you can buy better packs and improve your side which you take into online play. I didn’t explore it enough, but the potential for pay to win in the game is concerning.
Still one of the best sports games of the year
Here in South Africa, we often overlook MLB The Show 20, simply because we don’t really understand Baseball. We cannot however deny that it still is a very well made game. The presentation is great, although it can be a bit overwhelming, and the game looks really good. The visuals can do with a bit of an upgrade, but that should be expected for the PS5, whenever that is supposed to release.
The microtransactions and potential pay-to-win systems can be a bit of a issue here, but it doesn’t seem to be nearly as nefarious as other sport games we’ve seen in recent years. Still, MLB The Show 20 is a good game, and if you have some interest in the sport of Baseball, then you should definitely check it out.