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Making the Leap From MLB The Show to Out of the Park Baseball

MLB The Show 19

Making the Leap From MLB The Show to Out of the Park Baseball

If you’re a true die-hard baseball fan, one video game simulation just isn’t enough. As someone who plays MLB The Show year after year and marvels at how consistently great the series continues to be, I’ve still found myself wondering from time to time: what else is out there? Maybe it’s born out of some fatigue at looking at The Show’s familiar presentation and incremental improvements over such a long period of time. Maybe I was just really excited about baseball season finally starting after a long winter. But whatever the reason, I was anxious to see what other baseball video games had to offer.

As strictly a console player only though, my options were limited. R.B.I Baseball 19 hasn’t exactly received the greatest of reviews for yet another year, and beyond that, there aren’t really any other baseball games available for consoles. However, I was aware there was another annual baseball game on the market that I was continuously being deprived of by limiting myself to playing only on consoles: Out of the Park Baseball. And I knew that trying out the only other baseball simulation available with a reputation that even approaches that of MLB The Show was going to have to involve expanding my horizons.

In order to try out the newest edition of the Out Of The Park Baseball series, I was going to need to move from the cozy and familiar world of my PS4 and play my first ever actual game on my Mac. To be honest, I didn’t even have a Steam account. To be even more honest, I was so naive about the entire world of computer gaming that I didn’t even know if I could get a Steam account on my Mac. What I learned: I can! And just like that, I began to become immersed in the vast and unfathomable depths of baseball management involved in Out of the Park Baseball 20.

Gameplay

I feel like it’s important to get this out of the way from the start: As someone who’s making the jump from MLB The Show to OOTP, it’s hardly even fair to compare the action on the field between the two games. For one thing, you don’t even really “play” any baseball games in OOTP so much as merely attempt to manage your team to a victory. There are none of the pitcher-batter duels that are really the heart of the MLB The Show series and there are absolutely no plays in the field where you’ll be required to move someone in position to make an out. Initially, this felt like a huge limitation to the game that would take some pretty fundamental aspects of baseball out of my hands, but the more I played, the more I began to realize that these really weren’t all that integral to the kind of simulation that OOTP is trying to be — one that relies more on stats and player attributes than any skill input from the user.

As such, the impact you can have on games as a manager becomes just as minimal, but in key moments of the game it becomes just as vital as if you were really in the dugout calling the shots. But to be fair, most of the game is spent clicking on the generic “Swing Away” or “Pitch” options that allow your players to do what they do best, and then watching as the action plays out with some rather primitive animations and graphics along with some play-by-play text. It’s not like I was expecting the visuals to be on the same level of The Show or anything — and they are certainly not without their own charms and utility — but what you get is a pretty crude rendering of every play that isn’t all that far beyond what I recall seeing from a baseball simulation on my Commodore 64 as a kid.

But in those crucial moments when the game is on the line, you can still make your impact felt as a manager, and potentially determine whether your team wins or loses. Strategic decisions like when to pull your starter from the game, when to sacrifice bunt, or when to bring in a pinch hitter or runner can really swing a game one way or another. And not only can you call for a steal to control activity on the basepaths (although baserunners will still sometimes be stubborn about following your orders), you can also play third-base coach and give runners the wave home or hold sign on potential close plays at the plate.

It’s all enough to make you feel like you’re involved in the game, even if it does leave a little something to be desired if you’re used to getting your hands a little dirtier and controlling your own players in games of MLB The Show.

Franchise

This is where OOTP shines and, at the risk of hyperbole, frankly makes MLB The Show pretty much look like it barely knows what it’s doing in some respects. From the ability to use historical rosters and customize your franchise any which way you choose to the overwhelming number of screens that you can navigate to manage your team and view all sorts of statistics, this is the comprehensive franchise mode MLB The Show players have wanted at their disposal for years. In fact, there are so many options when it comes to managing your teams that it wasn’t too long before it felt like a classic “be careful what you wish for” scenario, as I found myself using the ability to have the AI manage everything about my team more and more. I do like being able to do things like plan your lineups seven days in advance when controlling the minutiae of your team, but I have to accept the reality that I may never be someone who enjoys delving into all of the finer aspects of contract management.

Perfect Team

I’ll admit that a large portion of my time so far with OOTP has been spent playing their Perfect Team mode and trying to build a squad that can contend with others online. The concept is relatively simple and, at first, it all seemed like a bit of a waste of time to me. So I purchase players on the market using Perfect Points, carefully build my lineup and then all I get to do is review the results of a simulation? Where was the fun in that? But then a strange thing happened. I’d find myself checking the results of these simulations regularly each day, analyzing the recaps and box scores, wondering how my team had faltered over a five-game losing streak or anxious to find out which players had been on a tear when the team got hot all of a sudden.

I’m still not invested enough to begin spending any real money on the mode, but I do carefully watch my Perfect Points accumulate through various achievements, waiting until I have enough to upgrade a position of need. My bullpen is still a bit of a weakness and I should probably replace Tim Wallach at third base, but as an Expos fan who once met Wallach at spring training as a kid it’s going to be a difficult move to make. I have managed to make the playoffs a couple of times (never getting further than the Wild Card game though) and ascended to some tougher leagues, but my team right now certainly remains far from perfect.

Conclusions

If you’re willing to accept, or even embrace, the fact that games in OOTP aren’t going to be quite as immersive or offer you nearly as much control over your players as MLB The Show, there’s plenty to like about the game. For those of you out there like me who have grown so accustomed to carrying out every little action on the diamond, it will likely take some time to adjust and accept the fact that this is a different style of baseball simulation. But if you’re willing to be patient and give yourself over to becoming more of a manager than a player, you’ll likely find that the game is fun and challenging in a way that values baseball strategy and team-building philosophies over things like hand-eye coordination and stick skills on a controller.

This is the kind of game that shows the type of reverence for stats and advanced analytics that would excite those who appreciate Billy Beane’s Moneyball tactics in building a roster, or those who have their own theories about what teams need to win baseball games that they would like to put to the test. It may not satisfy anyone who needs to have their input felt on every swing or state-of-the-art graphics to show the action, but OOTP represents a worthy alternative for anyone who has ever dreamed of governing over both the front office of a baseball team and the strategy on the field, all while getting out of the way and letting the players perform just as they would in real life.

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  1. Great article Kevin!
    I made the leap to OOTP and have never looked back. Give this game a chance and you'll be hooked too. Love the ability to manage a baseball team and the strategy on the field. The depth of this game is incredible...
    I have owned nearly every version since the first OOTP release. They have made a ton of strides through the years, and that's putting it lightly. The depth that you can experience when playing this is crazy. I love creating a new fictional league in the early 1900's and letting it simulate until the 90's. Then I take over and be a GM of whatever the worst team in history is. Over the past few years they've been working on giving some graphical look to the on the field game play which just makes this feel even better. In the past you'd see the text "Back, back, back..." on a long hit. Now you see the ball in flight. Like Peter_OS said, the depth and strategy of the game makes this engrossing. If you're a fan of baseball I strongly suggest it. You can find free versions online of their older games. You'll miss out on the in game graphics but you'll still get a taste of the management aspect. It's unlike any other game on the market. I know once upon a time they were developing a football game, however the lead had health issues and haven't seen anything further on that. Sorry for the long post. 
    OOTP and The Show need to have a baby. When I play The Show I’m miss the in depth team management of OOTP.   When I play OOTP I miss controlling the on-field action.  Both great games. 
    Appreciate where you’re going here but comparing these two title  aren’t apples to apples.  The “if you’re willing to sacrifice this for that etc” argument is crazy.  Yes, franchise mode is crazy awesome in OOTP but OOTP’s gameplay rivals PONG...
    neither title perfect, both amazingly in their own ways but really not playing on the same playing fields IMO... completely different experiences.
    -GW-
    GWPump23
    *Yes, franchise mode is crazy awesome in OOTP but OOTP’s gameplay rivals PONG...

    I wouldn't go that far.
    I guess it depends on what you define as gameplay.
    To me, making strategic moves is gameplay. Just like in a empire-building game like Romance of the Three Kingdoms or in a lot of respects Total War when not in PvP.
    I'm not controlling how each individual soldier in my army fights, I'm controlling the composition, the resource management, the strategy, the leadership that will go into that army's performance on the field.
    OOTP is a baseball version of that.
    I don't remember the first OOTP I bought. I haven't been with the franchise as long as many here, but I've been playing it for sometime now. Once they added the 3D on field stuff I've loved the game even more. I am someone that really gets immersed more with visual representation of what is going on and the 3D gave me that. I haven't bought The Show for 2 years now and a big part of that is OOTP. While The Show continues to change the minimal amount with their franchise mode, OOTP already offered huge amounts of depth and customization for the franchise. They continued to make strides yearly and I just don't see myself going back to The Show until their franchise mode can match the depth of OOTP.
    I really hope sports titles take a cue from OOTPD and continue to push their games, instead of getting fat and happy with only monetized gambling modes. I would love for developers to soon be able to support and create more complex games and give us
    Out of the Park: The Show
    :cheers:
    beastmode2013
    I really hope sports titles take a cue from OOTPD and continue to push their games, instead of getting fat and happy with only monetized gambling modes. I would love for developers to soon be able to support and create more complex games and give us :cheers:

    Well, OotP has added Perfect Team to the game which is similar to Ultimate Team. Also, OotP probably doesn't make close to the same type of money the bigger name sports games do. I'd say part of that is being PC only. Part of it is not having any traditional on-field gameplay. I do wish every sports titles out there had a franchise mode as deep and feature rich as OotP at the minimum, but they focus on their Ultimate Team modes for a reason.
    So I bit the bullet and bought OOTP 20. I've been an avid player of MLB the Show and enjoy Franchise Mode the most, making trades, drafting prospects and trying to rebuild teams.
    For those that are familiar with the game, what would you recommend I do when I start? Is there a franchise mode you can jump right into? Any suggestions that you think would help me dive into that simulation experience and help me learn the game would be great.
    I’ve been playing OOTP for probably 5 years or so. I have always liked it but never got too deep into it. I always felt a disconnect just simming games and it’s way too much work to play all the games out. Ultimately I just didn’t ever feel very connected to my team.
    This year however I figured out a way that has me way more invested. Instead of just playing the games or just simming through time quickly I go into the “play games from league schedule” section, check hide scores then do a quick sim and then watch highlights. I get to experience my team this way and because I hide score I don’t know how the game is going to unfold. It’s also not anywhere near as time consuming as playing out full games. It’s really helped me care more about my team and the players.
    CujoMatty
    I’ve been playing OOTP for probably 5 years or so. I have always liked it but never got too deep into it. I always felt a disconnect just simming games and it’s way too much work to play all the games out. Ultimately I just didn’t ever feel very connected to my team.
    This year however I figured out a way that has me way more invested. Instead of just playing the games or just simming through time quickly I go into the “play games from league schedule” section, check hide scores then do a quick sim and then watch highlights. I get to experience my team this way and because I hide score I don’t know how the game is going to unfold. It’s also not anywhere near as time consuming as playing out full games. It’s really helped me care more about my team and the players.
    Thanks for sharing, great idea!
    Sent from my SM-G965U using Operation Sports mobile app
    I played ootp like 10 years ago expecting something like the show or mvp.  just didnt get into it.
    now i want an alternative to the show. 
    I like they have historical rosters and stadiums.  I'm not a pc/mac gamer so like the author Im sort of lost where to start.
    I think I will eventually pick it up but going to do more homework on it.
    I’ve been playing baseball video games basically ever since I was old enough to learn how, starting with Triple Play 99, moving to the original ‘MLB’ games then eventually the current iteration of the Show through 19. I started playing on rookie mode back in the day just mashing the CPU, eventually got heavy into RTTS, dabbled with DD a bit in 18 but now mostly play Franchise. The management / player development side of the game interests me most. And the amount of time I have put in to force my experience with the Show emulate a true-to-life simulation this year has led me to beieve that OOTP may be the game for me (at least to satisfy my need for extremely in-depth realism). I end up quick managing 85% of my franchise games anyway.
    Does anyone play both? I read a post where someone would play OOTP and the Show side-by-side in order to govern the storyline of their Show franchise. That’s kind of what I’m looking for as I don’t think I can part with actual on-field gameplay completely. But the shortcomings of the Show’s franchise mode become harder to ignore the deeper I try to get into the mode.
    dukefan123a
    So I bit the bullet and bought OOTP 20. I've been an avid player of MLB the Show and enjoy Franchise Mode the most, making trades, drafting prospects and trying to rebuild teams.
    For those that are familiar with the game, what would you recommend I do when I start? Is there a franchise mode you can jump right into? Any suggestions that you think would help me dive into that simulation experience and help me learn the game would be great.

    I would highly suggest just starting a franchise, it's the quickest way to learn. However, I wouldn't let this first chise be your lengthy one. Make mistakes, call guys up, send them down, adjust your roster a ton, and see how everything works. I'd then sim into the offseason after a few weeks (game weeks) to understand how the offseason works as well.
    Everyone says "there's no wrong way to play OOTP" and that couldn't be more true. The game has so much complexity if you want it, so you need to know what options to hit or not hit & doing a dry run chise is the best way.
    My story is all over the place. The first time I played MLB The Show was ironically the same I played OOTP for the first time...in 2017. The great thing about my experience with The Show was the fact that because I was new to it, I didn't know anything about legacy issues...the game was fresh and new to me and I loved every minute of it. As far as OOTP went, the Franchise Owner and GM in me was in heaven. The game was so deep that it overwhelmed me at first. I lietrally had to take like a couple of days and just mess around with stuff to get a feel for it...mess some stuff up and then just start over. The only thing that was missing for me with OOTP were the visuals. I couldn't get down with the chess pieces.
    So, then when I found out they were adding 3D visuals of on-field action I've bought OOTP every year since then. However, I ended up selling my PS4 and haven't played The Show since. As much as I love baseball and I want to play that game, I just couldn't justify having that system for just one game. So, now I have the Xbox One X. OOTP gives me a fix in what it does best and I'm actually still diving into MVP 2005 on the PC. With the mods man that game right there...

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