The world might be on lockdown, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a plethora of ways to keep ourselves busy. While the start of the MLB season has been delayed, The Show has just released to give baseball fans a chance to get some action. MLB: The Show games are notorious for high quality, and 2020’s version helps spread the fun more than ever.
It needs stating at the beginning (so you can keep reading) that MLB: The Show is not just for baseball fans. If you’ve ever had a remote interest in the sport, or there’s some nostalgic value from playing early NES baseball games or even RBI from the days of SEGA, then this is the perfect jumping on point for non-fans and fans alike.
There’s no need to be concerned about knowing all the rules or being overwhelmed by the content, stats, game modes or anything else. MLB: The Show does an incredible job of providing tutorials for beginners, while also supplying important information for veterans of the game. No matter your level, there’s an environment tailored for you.
That said, at first you might feel overwhelmed when loading up purely due to the amount of content MLB: The Show 20 has to offer. A slick presentation of the menus and options provides in-your-face content that will keep you busy pretty much for the entire year cycle. Standard modes such as Franchise, Home Run Derby and online matches are available, together with a retro mode, but the depth of the other modes is where the real action is.
Road to the Show returns and is more comprehensive than ever. The story-like mode where you create your own player and take him from the minor leagues to (hopefully) stardom feels as fresh and dynamic as it’s ever been. Starting off at the trials, hoping to get a decent draft pick, playing through the minor leagues is incredible. The off-field action is as important. Baseball is very much a team sport and Road to the Show provides an off-field experience like no other sport game.
Maintaining and developing relationships with fellow players (rivals and teammates) is important in how your personality develops. Based on your personality you can gain “perks” which you can use to boost in-game skills. There’s a mini-RPG aspect to the entire game mode with skill trees and more. The ability to simulate to when your player is involved is seamless, while the action is always intense. Small dynamic challenges give you extra goals to achieve, and the mode simply never gets stale.
Last year’s addition of March to October was probably the greatest mode to hit the franchise in recent times. Playing through an entire season can be tiresome (over 100 matches with 9 innings each is a lot to get through). March to October circumvents that by throwing you into key moments in matches throughout the season.
Closing out games, hitting the winning runs, striking out opponents and other challenges will provide your team with a momentum boost, seeing your simulated games getting good results, while failure to achieve in the key game moment will put your side on the slide. The mode has added a lot more content and management aspects which includes scouting and trades to improve your side, as well as other team elements which need to be managed in order to get your team to the World Series. It’s like the T20 of baseball modes.
It goes without saying that Diamond Dynasty is the most impressive, and probably the most worthwhile mode in the game. It’s the MLB Ultimate Team equivalent, but it’s on a whole new level. While EA and 2K have a heavy focus on microtransactions, MLB: The Show 20 seems to hide them away. It took me ages before realising you could actually spend real money on the game. Something you simply don’t have to do at any point, really.
Diamond Dynasty’s reward structure makes collecting items and improving your team an absolute breeze while continuously engaging players in all that it offers. What is great about it is even if you play different modes, you can still gain rewards for Diamond Dynasty, meaning that you aren’t punished for exploring other areas of the game and not spending all your time in one mode (*glares at FIFA*).
Team building is simple and provides you with enough reason to actually want to grind the game, improve your team, finish off card collections and more. It helps that within Diamond Dynasty there are a number of modes and challenges to complete too. You can take on a conquest mode which has a base building mini-game as part of its makeup, you can play full matches against other teams, moments from the history of Baseball and a whole lot more. Each mode has remarkably different expectations, so whatever you choose you are guaranteed to enjoy and not feel like things get repetitive.
Of course, the modes wouldn’t be any good if the gameplay didn’t match up. Now, earlier I mentioned NES Baseball and RBI from the SEGA, and despite enjoying MLB: The Show over the years, I have always felt like the simulation factor outweighed the fun factor. MLB: The Show 20 seems to have the perfect balance. Pitching in previous years felt like a bit of a chore, but this year the intensity makes it more exciting, while the intuitive control system makes it more manageable. Skipping cutscenes and foul balls makes things move a lot quicker too. Fielding is the same, and thankfully works perfectly.
Batting feels as though it has gone through the biggest changes. As for all areas of the game, you are offered one of three control methods: complete analogue control, directional control, or area mapping. Everyone will have a different preference, so definitely play around with them, but having the option makes a huge difference. Similarly, MLB: The Show 20 comes with a dynamic difficulty setting, something we have seen before, but feels more in tune with the action.
One problem I’ve always had with Baseball games is that the easiest difficulty option was always far too easy, the hardest difficulty was far too hard and the medium difficulty was way too sporadic with its tempermental difficulty curve. Dynamic difficulty changes this as it scales up and down depending on your performance. Truly game changing and a massive assistance for anyone new to the game.
With all the new additions, comprehensive modes and impressive intricacies, you could be forgiven for thinking that there would be a drop in quality elsewhere, perhaps in the presentation? Almost needless to say, but the visuals and smoothness of the gameplay is truly next level with all details of the players, stadiums, fans and even the kits taken into consideration.
The soundtrack is mostly pleasant without becoming invasive and the rest of the sound aspects of the game are spot on, from coaches shouting instructions, players talking you through situations and fans cheering or jeering. The atmosphere is always as it should be for a major sporting event. MLB: The Show 20 is seemingly moving towards a multiplatform ecosystem from next year, but it’s going out with a bang in its final PS4 exclusivity innings.
MLB: The Show 20 makes getting to first base feel easy, getting to second a true joy, third a journey and getting the home run an experience worth reliving. It’s by far and away one of the most complete sport game packages out there, and provides good reason to stay home in these crazy times.
Last Updated: March 23, 2020