For years, I’ve maintained two different characters in MLB’s The Show’s Road to the Show career mode: Sam Wade, my string bean from Maryland, handles pitching, and Country Breakfast Vaughn, a cut of country roast beef from Arkansas, is the hitter. Ramone Russell from Sony San Diego tells me that many players do the same thing, spotting back and forth between storage files that do not exist in the same timeline.
That will change with MLB The Show 21, which launches on April 20. Now players will be blessed with real two-way potential: They will both hit and hit in their careers, and will have the opportunity to develop one ̵
I get the idea, and I like the convenience, but I worry about the potential for breaking narrative realism in a mode that, among all the vicarious fantasies sports video games offer, has presented the most real life and expectations of a young player’s development. No matter what kind of stud I have built at the beginning of RTTS, he has always spent at least an entire season in minor leagues, and often there are two.
But Russell reassures me with that MLB The Show 21The new approach will fit with reality, and not just because people can point to the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani as a bona fide double threat in the major leagues today. Russell says that this year’s two-way story will find support with podcast-style scenes that discuss the player’s unique potential and comment on his progression, if the user still specializes in a single branch.
“If you do not want to be a two-way player, you can just say no, like ‘I just want to hit. “You can still do it,” Russell said. For the “visual podcast,” Russell said, former players Sean Casey and Cliff Floyd will make regular appearances, accompanied by MLB Network studio host Robert Flores and many other guest stars. “The second feedback we got about the road to the show was: “I beat home races like crazy, I beat the guys out, and it’s like MLB does not notice. No one notices it,” Russell said.
For all the depth of modes and fidelity to on-site gaming, MLB The Show presentation has been the weakest component year-round, and single-player career mode generally leaves users to fill in their stories with their fantasies. It’s good to hear that Road to the Show will receive specific support, and understand that other sports series have tried social media imitation in their career modes, and the news wears out if the comment provided is one size fits all.
Russell on Road to the Show i MLB 21 will also remove the goal of painting to the top overall ranking in a player’s core characteristics, and be limited to that set. This will largely be achieved with an additional distribution system that can be changed from day to day to allow players to develop more talent areas. Earlier in RTTSes, players were selected from several archetypes, but were then locked up to award caps for the rest of their careers. (For example, a pure power hitter may have little in the way of speed or defensive range.)
From what I’ve seen in Sony’s promotional material, the “extra benefit” may be a little wrong. it looks more like players can switch from the old RTTS archetypes (with new ones thrown in) to games. As a first-year minor, they may still have power or have contact with making rankings in the 40s. Heavy load equipment does not guarantee home runs; it allows players to develop a game of power. While previous RTTS archetypes were somewhat limited by position, it seems that this approach gives more leeway to develop a great midfielder, such as Francisco Lindor or Oriole killer Gleyber Torres.
“No longer are you trying to make this guy a 99 in every category,” Russell said. “You can create the type of player sheet you want to create for any situation. […] And then you can replace these parts and the parts to create more loads. ”
Although Road to the Show is still the MLB Show’s most played mode, it’s by no means the only one to get improvements and new features this year, especially as the game debuts on PlayStation 5 (and Xbox Series X). Two additions sound like they can add a ton of depth to multiple game modes, but I need practical time with both to really assess their impact.
The first seems a bit self-explanatory – a toolkit for stadium creation, which fans have been asking to have for years. In the past, The Show has somehow thrown players into their open custom toolkits (such as the uniforms of the Diamond Dynasty several years ago), with little in the way of a starting point. Not so with the park creator, Russell said.
“Michael Compton, chief designer, he created 30 amazing stadiums that come with the game,” said Russell. “So you can go into any of these 30 and change them to your heart, and share them and plan them. But if you want to build something from scratch, you can, and we have templates where there is nothing but flat grass. ”
Customization options and architectural features are there for many of the stadium’s creators, with “thousands of props” ready for players to trick their property. Russell said Show players have been asking for this type of modding suite for at least a decade, and to deliver it required locking graphics programmer Jonathan Ramsey “in a cave for a little over two years, working on nothing but stadium creation. And I’m not exaggerating at all. ”
Then there’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while – at least since the closure of 2K Sports’ MLB 2K series: a gesture-based pitching system. It was one of the few things that MLB 2K did with distinction, and Sony San Diego has never tried anything like it, even in the seven years since MLB 2K was last released. But now pitching stomachs will have a more deterministic delivery system. Russell said that Pinpoint Pitching, as the new control is called, will provide the greatest pitching accuracy yet, but that it takes the longest time for players to adapt and master.
The other three pitching systems are still available; Sony San Diego always preserves older systems when the studio introduces new gaming options. Russell said that developers balanced the other control sets – the old meter, the straight stick-based Pure Analog option introduced in 2011, and Pulse Pitching the following year – to ensure that none of them provide a specific advantage over another. “We try to make sure we never have a meta[-game] there you can be effective with all of them, but one does not stand above the rest. “
Still, I asked why San Diego Studio would struggle to develop, and then balance, a new command set when the game already has three. Players also have strong preferences for one of these options.
“We wanted to give people a mechanic who had a lot of depth. If you did everything right, you could be very, very accurate,” Russell said. This is consistent with a new three-column approach to the game’s difficulty settings, with one prioritizing spelling skills to exclude player rankings, mainly for online competitive play.
MLB The Show 21 launches April 20 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and in an unusual world-class first Xbox One and Xbox Series X – although the stadium creator and certain other new features will only be on the newer consoles. Major League Baseball, Sony and Microsoft agreed at the end of 2019 to develop MLB’s signature simulation video game for multiple platforms, with a Nintendo Switch version possibly coming in the future.