Major League Baseball is back in your living rooms once again as the giant of baseball video games makes its annual return with MLB The Show 22. Over the past few years, MLB The Show has delivered a competent, and at times innovative, baseball experience. Generally, those stepping in for the first time will find an outstanding game, but have there been enough improvements to make annual owners happy?
MLB The Show must work to avoid annual disappointment, and with a few new modes added for 2022, there is likely enough here to satisfy all baseball fans, no matter how often they purchase a game in this storied franchise.
MLB The Show 22 Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One
Reviewed on: PS5
Developer(s): San Diego Studio
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment, MLB Advanced Media
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Avoiding the annual release slide
To avoid falling into the yearly annual sports game release trap, MLB The Show 22 has overhauled one major aspect of the game, the announcers. I have played a number of sports games over the past few years, and the reality is that reusing old announcers, and their commentary is one way to guarantee returning players feeling like they are playing the same game, with a slight roster tweak.
The new announcing duo is fairly authentic, giving you that almost live TV feel of each game you play. Of course, as the games you play slowly grows, the constant dialogue begins to feel unauthentic. With less dialogue than previous games, you are going to notice fairly quickly.
Online cooperative play is another way the game is trying to make new waves in 2022. Playing online in 2v2 or 3v3 situations, either with friends or through random matchmaking, is actually quite fun. It allows players to rotate through batters, and trade off fielding and pitching duties each inning. Cooperative mode allows players to focus on one aspect of the inning, perhaps worrying about pitches as opposed to what you might need to do if you give up a hit. Any hits you give up will be the reasonability of your cooperative partner.
Proof of Concept versus Actual Mode?
While a great addition to MLB The Show 22, it has some major drawbacks. There are no leagues built into the online framework of the game. This means you can’t persistently play as your favourite team, with your friends, in a meaningful way. Furthermore, if one of your partners is better at pitching, while the other better at fielding, there is no way to set those as permanent positions; you will continue to trade off each inning.
Additionally, there is also no way to actually play against your friends online, outside of getting randomly matched against each other. Some may say this gives the developers room for improvement in MLB The Show 23, I cannot help but feel that these are elements that should have been part of this year’s release.
While the online cooperative mode is a nice, albeit bare bone experience, there are things that the development team should be applauded for. Accessibility in video games has never been as necessary as it is today, and MLB The Show 22 might be the shining example of how sports titles should be created. At its most difficult settings, The Show is an incredibly difficult game that relies not only on video gaming ability, but also baseball knowledge.
Realistically, that is only appealing to a fraction of the potential consumer base for this title. Thankfully, almost everything can be tailored and customized to fit your needs. Good at pitching but lousy at batting? You can make your batting easier and your pitching harder. Or make it all easy, and just enjoy a day at the ballpark. Either way, there are few sports titles as accessible as MLB The Show 22.
An authentic ballpark feel
Visually, MLB The Show 22 on the PlayStation 5 looks even better than last year’s release. Ballparks from around Major League Baseball have been recreated with shocking detail. Home games feel like home games!
The presentation of the game will give you live TV vibes as you see pitchers walk to the mound, stats displayed and commentary provided as appropriate. The sounds are also well done, from the crack of the bat to the screams of the crowd. Compared to other sports titles, it is in a league of its own.
Lots to play, many small tweaks
Thankfully, the development team has given players a lot of reasons to head out to the ballpark for an afternoon in the sun. All your favourite modes are back in MLB The Show 22, but many have received small, positive tweaks. March to October now allows you to run your team through multiple seasons, as opposed to just one. This is a great extended game mode alternative for those who don’t want to invest lots of time into Franchise Mode.
Road to the Show has received minor updates as well, adding in more dialogue and discussions around your player and the team. Although not groundbreaking, and really doesn’t impact your character’s progression, it does make the entire experience a bit more fulsome over past entries.
Player progression is also a bit faster than in previous years, keeping the story and your career moving at a good pace. Diamond Dynasty is back, and like the presentation of the game, should be the gold standard for ultimate team modes in all sports titles. Stubs, currency used to purchase packs, are generously given out, and creating a good team isn’t overly difficult.
MLB The Show 22 kicks off the baseball season on the right foot
Another year, another MLB The Show game to sink your teeth into. For those wondering if MLB The Show 22 is worth picking up, I would argue it is. While there are a few negative things that need to be sorted out by patches, the overall game has taken a step forward from 2021. The changes might be minor, but they do provide enough of a reason to grab your bat and glove and head to the field.
+ Outstanding, realistic presentation
+ Positive tweaks to classic modes
+ Fantastic ball physics, most realistic baseball game yet
– A few performance issues and bugs
– Cooperative play feels incomplete
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF MLB THE SHOW 22
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5