2019 is shaping up to be an epic year for Major League Baseball. Superstar cover athlete Bryce Harper is settling in for a long (and profitable) stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani is working through rehab for his Tommy John surgery and could start at DH as early as May, and countless other story lines are heating up as the season progressed. And what better way to kick things off than with MLB The Show 19, baseball’s perennial gaming franchise.
MLB The Show 19 Details
Platform: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developer: SIE San Diego Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
What’s new for 2019
The MLB The Show franchise is indisputably the premier baseball franchise in gaming. It’s almost always one of my most anticipated video games of the year leading into another season of Major League Baseball. But what has Sony San Diego done this year to improve MLB The Show 19 over previous years? Let’s take a closer look at this year’s new additions.
Moments is a new mode in MLB The Show 19 that lets players relive some of the greatest events on baseball history. Take the bat as Babe Ruth calling his famous shot, or try to replicate the historic back-to-back homers of father and son duo Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. There are also fantasy Moments that create hypothetical “what if” scenarios as well.
While Moments are a fun new way to spice up shorter stretches of gameplay, they ultimately feel like a lengthy exercise in fail-and-repeat. If the trial is to simply recreate Jose Bautista’s legendary homer and bat flip against the Rangers in the 2015 ALDS, then the challenge ends up being a matter of repetitive retries until you finally pop one off.
Many Moments can be done in a few tries, or even on the first go. That said, some are certainly harder than others—and players could find themselves hitting retry over and over again. Still, Moments provide nice rewards across MLB The Show 19’s three-tiered currency system, so they payout is often worth the effort.
March to October
March to October is another new mode designed for an even more streamlined seasonal franchise experience. Here you will only take control of your club during the most pivotal games and moments. The idea is to give time-strapped players a chance to have the full MLB season storyline without having to play a large amount of games to progress their franchise.
As a gamer who spends a lot of time on multiple titles, I really appreciate the idea behind March to October. I often wish I could find the time to participate in a multi-year franchise simulation, but often the time commitment is too heavy. In March to October however, players can reach their first franchise post-season in just a few multi-hour play sessions, while still having a meaningful impact on the season as a whole.
Performance in the playable segments of March to October is extremely important. Player’s failure or success will swing team momentum and dictate how the franchise performs in between play sessions. This means that instead of randomly simulating with no control, those chunks of the season which you don’t play rely heavily on the parts that you do.
There is a nice variety in the key moments that call upon the player. In some cases you’ll enter a tie game late in the 9th, tasked with preventing a walk-off victory for the other team. In other instances you’ll be position-locked to one player on the roster. Perform well and that player gets a season long boost to their skill and performance.
Road to the Show
Road to the Show is easily my favourite mode in MLB The Show 19, and this year Sony San Diego does even more to branch out its RPG-like experience.
Dialogue choices are more important than ever. In MLB The Show 19 the way you interact with your team, coaches, opponents, and the press will ultimately inform just what type of player you are. If you put the team before yourself, you’ll earn points towards the “Captain” archetype. If you’re more of a lone wolf, trash talking personality, you’ll instead be labelled a “Maverick”.
The best part of this system is that your player’s special skills and attributes are locked behind these personality types. Each path has a branching skill tree that provides buffs and situational advantages that take root in that particular attitude. Throughout the course of a career players can explore multiple paths to find a blend of skills to perfectly suit their play style.
The only potential downside to this is the elimination of previous years’ “Showtime” feature, where players could slow time at key moments to come up with a big play. I have to admit that I miss the extra edge when trying to get the edge on a steal or hit a walk-off long ball.
Diamond Dynasty sees a significant expansion as well, with more ways than ever to earn currency and rewards toward its ultimate card-collecting meta game. From expanding the “Risk”-like strategy and domination “Conquest” mode to the addition of Moments, there are plenty of way for players to experience success and reap the benefits.
While serious players may always deal with the temptation to purchase “Stubs” (the only one of the three currencies that can be accumulated with real money purchases), it still feels like MLB The Show 19 is more fair than most sports titles in its capacity to let players earn currency simply by playing the game. In fact, nearly every facet of interacting with MLB The Show 19 involves some kind of currency reward.
MLB The Show 19 is another stellar entry in the top notch annual franchise
MLB The Show 19 lives up to its history as the premier baseball simulation franchise in gaming. This year a number of new modes offer extra variety on top of the always gorgeous graphics and tight gameplay mechanics. March to October is the best time-conscious franchise mode I’ve ever played, and Road to the Show feels like the best role-playing version of itself to date.
Moments are a neat addition as well, although occasionally they can be a repetitive chore, and like most sports games, the micro-transaction dynamic will always loom— although MLB The Show 19 handles it better than most. All-in-all though I can’t wait to keep playing more.
+ March to October franchise mode
+ Emphasis on dialogue and personality in Road to the Show
+ Huge variety of Diamond Dynasty tasks and rewards
– Moments can be repetitive
– Removal of Showtime mechanic
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF MLB THE SHOW 19
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5