MLB The Show 18 has been in stores now for just about two weeks. Our writers took some time this past weekend to reflect on their experience of the game thus far. Also, we break down whether its a good idea for you to join in and play this year’s game if you haven’t yet done so!
At this point, I’m ready to declare that it’s worth picking up. I can’t speak to any modes outside of Diamond Dynasty thus far but if you look at just the gameplay, MLB The Show 18 delivers an incredibly realistic and impressively detailed game of baseball — just as it reliably has pretty much every year.
The real question then becomes how much better is the game than last year? Hitting feels like a satisfying update of last year’s engine for better or worse. You’re just as likely to experience balls that are squared up perfectly and hit hard directly at fielders as you are others where you only get a piece of the ball and it falls in for a bloop single. Both pitching and fielding are more challenging in a rewarding way that sees you pay for your mistakes. And then there’s the usual assortment of animation and presentation updates that only get the game closer than ever to looking like an actual game of baseball.
There are certainly nits that can be picked on another day (the commentary, for instance, is still lacking) but the overriding initial impression is that this replaces last year’s game as the finest baseball game on the market.
MLB The Show 18 remains a must for any baseball fan. It benefits from having little competition, but the core gameplay has been refined to levels where anyone who enjoys a simulation experience will have plenty to like.
The biggest disappointment for me is the completely cut online franchise mode. Given its former state, we certainly didn’t lose much, but it’s a shame the franchise experience isn’t one that can be shared with friends.
The CPU remains a limited foe in crafting smart baseball rosters — making The Show absolutely ripe for a fantasy baseball kind of experience. In terms of gameplay, the game of cat and mouse between hitter and pitcher remains one of my great joys in video games. MLB The Show has captured that experience so perfectly, that even when the game feels a little light on features, I’ll have a hard time staying away.
To be truthful, I want to echo Robert’s full review a bit and say while the gameplay has enough here to feel fresh, the entire package took some strong steps backwards as well.
Whether you enjoy this year’s game or want to buy it really depends on how you feel about a couple of things. First is did you play Online Franchise? If so, this title is disappointing no matter how you slice it. The second is how much do gameplay improvements matter to you?
For some folks, especially those who aren’t hardcore baseball fans, its entirely possible you’ll find yourself content with sticking with last year’s game for now or just waiting out for a sale for The Show 18.
MLB The Show has captured OSers’ attention two years in a row, winning the 2016 and 2017 Sports Game of the Year, but I think some of the aura it had the past couple of years, and perhaps the momentum it was enjoying was lost a bit with this iteration.
It’s not a long fall from the top of the mountain in our genre to simply a really good game, but I think The Show certainly did that and has given anyone who isn’t a hardcore baseball fan reason to wait things out for some patches and a lower price. It’s likely this year is a small blip in an otherwise steady upwards trajectory for the series though.
I am a die-hard baseball fan and look forward to The Show’s annual entry. I buy it on launch day without any reservations whatsoever, and to me, it is as much of a part of Opening Day and the MLB season as the real-life games themselves. It has seen its ups and downs as a steady stream of post-launch patches have bounced the game from a pure playing masterpiece to a clone of ’17 and vice versa.
But there is no doubt that baseball fans will love the updated rosters, hitting improvements, graphics, small touches here and there, new legends available, and the joys of sinking time into their favorite modes. The game was criticized for a lack of marquee upgrades and/or new features, and it has frequently been described as a perfected version of MLB The Show 17.
After playing for a week or so, I think it’s a bit more than that and find it a formidable entry especially for those looking to get back into baseball or those who have not played in a year or two.
I am not certain that MLB The Show 18 is a must-buy for more casual fans who already own ’17, but MLB The Show 18 remains the best option around for baseball fans. For a close friend of mine, MLB The Show 18 is the first baseball title he’s played since the PlayStation 2 days, and I envy his exploration after years of baseball gaming hiatus.
Lastly (this was a big issue last year), for those who experienced the frustrating server issues last year, I have been playing consistently since the early access weekend and have yet to have a game disrupted by or not logged due to a network error (though I know that people have experienced them).