Baseball season may be put on hold, but fans need not fret. Even though the boys of summer won’t be taking the field at the end of March, there’s still one way to take our minds off the lack of pro sports. Live your own 2020 season right now with MLB The Show 20 for PlayStation 4.
MLB The Show 20 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)
Almost as good as the real thing
It’s truly difficult to approach a review for a game like MLB The Show 20 without taking the current state of affairs into context. It isn’t just baseball season that’s on hold. For many of us, our lives are drastically different right now as well.
I think that’s why right now, playing The Show actually feels better than ever. Amid all the uncertainty an chaos, MLB The Show 20 emerges as a familiar fixture, delivering the same stellar gameplay it does year over year. It’s pure comfort food for the baseball and sports simulation enthusiast.
MLB The Show 20 is full of a plethora of great modes. Yet right now, my largest indulgence is simply playing an entire season mode with my favourite team (The Angels). Every game. The first pitch to the last out. Right now, the 2020 MLB season is alive and well on my PlayStation 4 hard drive.
MLB The Show 20‘s incredible realism is what truly allows for such in-depth immersion. Nearing the end of the console cycle, SIE San Diego Studio is at the top of its game, and it shows. The game just looks and feels so good, it’s that much easier to let my worries melt away in a game of baseball.
What’s new in Diamond Dynasty
MLB The Show 20‘s online hub is still the most robust aspect of the game. There is a vast selection of modes and challenges to play here. Everything from head-to-head multiplayer seasons, the “Risk”-style conquest mode, daily challenges, and much more.
New to 2020 is “Showdown” mode. Here players draft a new team, then take on a gauntlet of increasingly difficult challenges. Every victory along the way earns new players and skill buffs. Thus, performing well early mitigates the difficulty toward the end.
Showdown mode is an intriguing divergence, particularly because the challenges are fairly short, and players can leave and come back in between. The Diamond Dynasty rewards for victory are enticing enough to add excitement as well. Furthermore, new Showdowns will continue to show up throughout the year.
All-in-all, Diamond Dynasty is a bit of a double-edge sword for me. On one hand, it offers many of the most interesting and unique ways to play. On the other hand, it’s extremely convoluted and sometimes hard to navigate. There’s almost too much going on here, and in particular newer players may be a bit lost in the chaos.
Update in throwing mechanics
Another change that really stuck out for me in MLB The Show 20 is the new “Perfect Throw” mechanic. The series has always been so good at offering multiple ways to approach its controls. Pulse vs. meter pitching, button press vs. analog stick batting, and so on.
I’ve always been a bit conservative when it comes to fielding. I opt for the simple “button press” method where each symbol represents a base. As long as I choose the correct base, my fate (ie. accuracy) is in the hands of the CPU.
However, the new “Perfect Throw” mechanic involves an accuracy meter. When using it, players not only need to choose where they want to through, but they have to time their press correctly to ensure accuracy. The window for a good throw is extremely brief, and the learning curve for most will likely be steep, with errors a-plenty.
For this reason I was not a fan at first. But I stuck with it, and once my timing improved, I actually started to appreciate how now, accuracy was more in my hands and less in the hands of RNG. And the best part? Under the right circumstances “perfect” throw timing will result in an amazing play, such as ensuring success in throwing out a baserunner stealing 2nd or a long throw to home from the outfield to save a run.
Improvements to March to October and RTTS
Finally, a few core single-player modes receive somewhat modest updates. March to October is a fantastic returning mode that lets players enjoy a full season or more by only participating in key moments. The momentum gained or lost here affects the outcome of the simulated portions in between.
This year the mode has supplemental additions such as a trade hub and minor league call-up system. These are perfect tack-ons that add a bit more flavour to “managing” a truncated season. Players get a taste of roster management while still investing significantly less time in simulating a lengthy MLB campaign.
Road to the Show (A.K.A. “RTTS”) has a few modest improvements as well. For the most part these focus on the more RPG-like aspects of the game. Your pro can now develop relationship bonds with teammates through dialogue and interaction. Such chemistry leads to situational boosts in overall performance. Similarly, rivalries can develop between players on the opposing side as well.
The is also a refinement in the user interface for RTTS. This makes it easier for players to navigate and manage the various menus and skill trees that define their player’s style and performance. Nevertheless, much of the RTTS experience still feels like the same recycled assets and dialogue we’ve seen for the past few years.
MLB The Show 20 is a fantastic baseball simulation in a time when we can truly use it the most
In a time when the postponement of pro sports is the least of what is on our minds, MLB The Show 20 offers a beacon of light. It’s not just escapism either. The game’s standard for realism and excellence can allow many such as myself to find some comforting familiarity and routine in filling some of the gaps in our daily lives.
New features and modes provide the same incremental improvement we are accustom to in yearly sports titles. Diamond Dynasty may be a bit muddled, and some modes such as RTTS see only very minor changes amid a lot more that remains the same. Nevertheless, I can’t think of a game I can rely on more right now for pure relaxation and fun.
+ The same high quality simulation we expect from The Show
+ New modes like “Showdown”
+ Updated mechanics
– Diamond Dynasty is a bit busy
– Parts of RTTS feel well-tread by now
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF MLB THE SHOW 20
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5