For years I’ve kept two different characters in MLB The Show’s Road to the Show career mode: Sam Wade, my bean from Maryland, handles the pitching, and Country Breakfast Vaughn, a cut of fried steak from Arkansas, is the hitter. . Ramone Russell from Sony San Diego tells me that a lot of gamers do the same thing, jotting back and forth between saved files that don’t exist on the same timeline.
That will change with MLB The Show 21, which will be released on April 20. Now players will be blessed with true two-way potential: they will pitch and hit in their careers, and have the opportunity to develop one, or even both, skill sets as they progress through baseball’s secondary career. suspenders.
I understand the idea and I like the convenience, but I am concerned about the possibility of breaking narrative realism in a way that, among all the indirect fantasies that sports video games offer, has presented the most realistic duration and expectations of a world. young player development. No matter what kind of stud he built at the beginning of RTTS, he has always spent at least one full season in the minor leagues and often there are two.
But Russell assures me that MLB The Show 21The new approach will fit reality, and not just because people can point to Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels as a genuine double threat in the major leagues today. Russell says this year’s two-way story will find support with podcast-style cutscenes discussing the player’s unique potential and commenting on their progression, in case the user ends up specializing in just one branch anyway.
“If you don’t want to be a two-way player, you can just say no, like, ‘I just want to hit.’ You can still do that, ”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 comment we got for Road to the Show was, ‘I’m hitting home runs like crazy, I strike out guys and it’s like MLB doesn’t notice. Nobody notices, ‘”Russell said.
Despite the depth in their modes and the fidelity to the game on the field, the presentation of MLB The Show has been its weakest component year after year, and the single-player career modes, in general, let their users fill in their stories. with your imagination. It is good to hear that Road to the Show will receive specific support, understanding that other sports series have tried the imitation of social networks in their career modes, and the novelty disappears if the comments delivered are the same for all.
Russell told Road to the Show in MLB 21 it will also remove the goal of reaching the highest overall ranking on a player’s core attributes, and will be limited to just that set. This will largely be accomplished through a perks and equipment system, which can be traded on a day-to-day basis to allow players to develop multiple areas of talent. In RTTS’s past, players chose from various archetypes, but were then subject to attribute caps for the remainder of that career. (A pure power hitter, for example, may have poor speed or defensive reach.)
From what I’ve seen in Sony’s promotional materials, “benefit” may be a bit of a misnomer; It seems rather that players can switch from the old RTTS archetypes (with new ones) from game to game. As a first-year minor league player, they may still have power hit or contact ratings in their 40s. Equipping a powerful load doesn’t guarantee home runs; allows players to develop a power game. While previous RTTS archetypes were somewhat limited by position, this approach seems to give more latitude to develop a heavy hitting middle infielder such as Francisco Lindor or Oriole killer Gleyber Torres.
“You’re not trying to make this guy 99 in every category anymore,” Russell said. “You can create any player archetype you want to create for any situation. […] And then you can swap these bits and pieces to create multiple equipments. “
Although Road to the Show remains the most played mode of MLB The Show, it is by no means the only one receiving improvements and new features this year, particularly as the game is making its debut on PlayStation 5 (and Xbox Series X). It seems like two additions can add a ton of depth to multiple game modes, but I’ll need some hands-on time with both to really assess their impact.
The former looks like something that’s self-explanatory: a set of stadium building tools, which fans have begged they had for years. In the past, The Show has thrown players into its open customization toolkits (the uniforms at Diamond Dynasty several years ago, for example) with little as a starting point. Not so with the park’s creator, Russell said.
“Michael Compton, the lead designer, created 30 incredible stadiums that ship with the game,” Russell said. “So you can go to any of those 30 and change them to your heart’s content, and share and plan them. But if you want to build something from scratch, you can, and we have templates where it’s just flat grass. “
Customization options and architectural features abound in the stadium creator, with “thousands of accessories” ready for players to fool their grounds. Russell said Show players have been asking for this type of modding suite for at least a decade, and delivering it required locking graphics programmer Jonathan Ramsey “in a cave for a little over two years, working alone on creating stadiums. . And I’m not exaggerating at all. “
Then there’s something I’ve wondered about for a while, at least since the close of 2K Sports’ MLB 2K series: a gesture-based launch system. It was one of the few things 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 the launcher experts will get a more deterministic delivery system. Russell said that Pinpoint Pitching, as the new control is called, will provide the highest pitching precision yet, but that players need more time to adapt and master.
The other three launch systems are still available; Sony San Diego always preserves the legacy systems whenever the studio introduces new gaming options. Russell said the developers rebalanced those other control sets – the old meter, the right stick-based Pure Analog option introduced in 2011, and Pulse Pitching the following year – to make sure none of them offer a specific advantage over another. “We are trying to make sure we never have a goal[-game] There, like, you can be effective with all of them, but one doesn’t stand out from the rest. “
Still, I asked why San Diego Studio would go to the trouble of developing and then balancing a new set of commands when the game already has three. Players also have strong preferences for one of these options.
“We wanted to give people a mechanic that had a lot of depth, where, if you did everything right, you could be very, very precise,” Russell said. This somewhat aligns with a new three-column approach to the game’s difficulty setting, with one prioritizing stick skills and excluding player ratings, primarily for competitive online play.
MLB The Show 21 launches April 20 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and, for the first time at an unusual world-class level, Xbox One and Xbox Series X, although the stadium creator and some other new features will only be on the newer consoles. Major League Baseball, Sony and Microsoft reached an agreement in late 2019 to develop MLB’s exclusive simulation video game for multiple platforms, with a Nintendo Switch version possibly in the future.