The boys of summer have returned in baseball’s most authentic virtual experience yet, with MLB: The Show 21. This year marks a historic change for the series, now making its way to both the PlayStation and Xbox platforms. Along with more places to play, there are new next-gen improvements along with enhancements to Diamond Dynasty, Franchise, and March to October modes. The biggest addition for 2021 is in the all-new Stadium Creator mode, where you can build a custom ballpark. Your favourite players, teams and all new legends hit the diamond this year, let’s dig into what The Show has to offer in its latest outing.
MLB The Show 21 Details
Platform: PlayStation 4,Xbox One,PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Developer: San Diego Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (for Everyone)
Welcome to the big leagues
One of the best parts of MLB The Show 21 is that it offers a respite from the lockdown restrictions we are currently living through in Canada. It has been so refreshing to boot up my PS5 and play a ball game at the Rogers Centre (Skydome) in Toronto. Sadly, this is something that can’t happen right now, but the game offers a reminder of the fun times on the horizon. The Show does an excellent job bringing the game to home consoles through lifelike player and stadium authenticity. Developer San Diego Studio has been successful in delivering the next best thing to an actual real life pro baseball game.
The Show is chalk full of modes to keep your bat swinging from Diamond Dynasty, Franchise, March to October and Road to the Show there is plenty of content to keep baseball fans busy. If you are a rookie to the franchise the three distinct difficulty modes are there from the outset to help get you settled in quickly. It’s a great touch as it makes the game more accessible while at the same time offering up a challenge to veteran players of the series.
A new place to call home
The single biggest addition to The Show this year is the Stadium Creator, which lets you customize your own ballpark.
This is a next-gen exclusive only found on the PS5 and Xbox Series of consoles.
The user interface is flexible, and well organized with an incredible number of options. You can customize and save 30 different stadiums with over 1,200+ props and almost endlessly modify the field’s parameters. One of my favourite things to do thus far in the mode has been to build the Field of Dreams from the classic film starring Kevin Costner. Between building your dream stadium or indulging in Hollywood movie references like I did, it will be exciting to see the creations the community comes up with. Unfortunately, there are some downsides to the mode, for example, you can’t play in your custom stadium at night. Besides this, and a confusing menu layout, I am excited to spend more time building and seeing where this goes in the future.
MLB Road To The Show Improvements
The “create a player” mode or more aptly known Road To The Show (RTTS) has seen some significant improvements, offering a lot of playstyle flexibility. After you create your character, they automatically develop into a two-way player, meaning you can be both a power hitter and an ace pitcher. This type of player is a unicorn in professional baseball, only greats like Babe Ruth and Shohei Ohtani were able to pull off this feat. For video game fantasy’s sake, it’s a welcome change that gives you more flexibility in how your player develops.
This year you can also export your Road to the Show player across multiple modes, extending their legacy. For the first time they can join lineups in Franchise and Diamond Dynasty modes. It’s a highly requested feature that further lets you stack your fantasy team’s roster.
A major league helping of baseball
The Show is busting at the seams with just about everything baseball related you can think of. In addition to all the aforementioned new content, modes like March to October, although seeing only minor improvements, are still excellent. The menus have been streamlined making it easier to get into the action with ease. The mode really synthesizes the thrill of the playoff huntl with exciting cut scenes and a momentum system to swing things in your favour.
A dynasty in sports video games
When it comes to Diamond Dynasty, you’d be hard pressed to find a better card collecting mode in a videogame. Many other sports franchises have added their own twists on the formula, but I find myself enjoying Diamond Dynasty the most and the amount of content is incredible. This year you can build a team from pro baseball’s long storied history adding players like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr. and more to your line-up.
Your MLB legacy migrates across modes
Now that you can bring your player over from Road To The Show it adds to the fun and longevity of the mode. You can continue to build and stack your roster with new and old MLB superstars and use your RTTScharacter too. Along with all the new improvements Battle Royale, Conquests, Programs, Ranked Seasons, Showdown and Moments all make their return. It’s one of the most comprehensive modes in all of sports video games.
The sights, sounds and feel of MLB The Show
This year The Show got the call up to the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S next-gen hardware. This brought with it expectations for major graphical upgrades, unfortunately there aren’t many to speak of. The game looks great in motion, next-gen consoles allow you to play in 4K, 60fps but other aspects of the visuals leave more to be desired. On the PS5 and Series X there is improved lighting, but textures are in need of an upgrade. Especially in comparison to other sports’ next-gen counterpart’s things like fabric, hair and facial animations are behind the curveball. Despite this, next-gen hardware is still the best place to play with faster load times and exclusive modes like Stadium Creator that can only be experienced on the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles.
The sounds of MLB The Show
The sounds of the players, crowds and stadium are great, especially when listening through the PULSE 3D Headset. Cranking a homerun or delivering a strike out to the roar of the crowd is especially satisfying with 3D-Audio surrounding you. Some of the colour commentary is a little too familiar repeating a lot of similar dialogue from older games. There is the odd new line to reflect the addition of two-way play styles now found in Road To The Show.
Feel every play with PS5’s DualSense Controller
The biggest sensorial change this year comes with the PlayStation 5’s DualSense Wireless Controller. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers in the remote dial up the immersion by accurately reflecting the on-field action. Whether you are hitting, fielding or pitching there are big differences with how the on-screen action is output to the controller.
For example, if you are jammed in the batter’s box you feel a residual “ringing” in the remote. If you hit the ball perfectly there’s a more satisfying single “pop” that rises off the bat. Even with fielding the ball depending on the player’s handedness you’ll feel difference in the left or right side of the remote. The DualSense integration adds to the immersion of the experience in a big way, making the game standout more on the PS5.
Pinpoint accurate gameplay
When it comes to gameplay, The Show 21 is absolutely stellar, putting a focus on the new pinpoint pitching mode. This makes use of the right analog stick, players must quickly trace a pattern before delivering a pitch. It’s tough to master but offers a greater challenge but better accuracy if you can pull it off. If this isn’t your style, “button-only” and “meter style” pitching are still options, but it’s great to have so much choice in how you can approach the game.
The MLB diamond awaits
MLB The Show 21 offers a rock-solid baseball simulation experience that has been evolving over each iteration of the series. The entire package is bookended by a plethora of excellent modes and new gameplay improvements. Next-gen consoles are the best place to play with exclusive modes like Stadium Creator, fluid and crisp 4K visuals running at 60fps. Some modes only feature incremental improvements but there is so much included in the presentation that it doesn’t take away from the overall experience. I highly recommend lacing up those cleats and diving into The Show.
+ Excellent gameplay with new pitching options
+ Multiple modes providing hours of gameplay
+ Two-way player type introduced in Road To The Show
+ Surprisingly deep Stadium Creator on next-gen consoles
– Lack of a next-gen graphical leap
– Colour commentary is repetitive
– No save carry over
OVERALL ASSESSEMENT OF MLB THE SHOW 21
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.25/5
Overall Rating: 4.1/5 (82%)
Purchase MLB The Show 21 (PS4)
Buy MLB The Show 21 (Xbox One)
Get MLB The Show 21 (PS5)
Purchase MLB The Show 21 (Xbox Series X)
Buy MLB The Show 21 Jackie Robinson Edition (PS4 / PS5)
Get MLB The Show 21 Jackie Robinson Deluxe Edition (Xbox One /Series X)