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MLB The Show 18: Our Thoughts on This Year's Game (Roundtable)

MLB The Show 18

MLB The Show 18: Our Thoughts on This Year's Game (Roundtable)

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!

Kevin Scott

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.

Ben Vollmer

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.

Chris Sanner

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.

Elliott Jenkins

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).

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  1. I'm sorry but I can't recommend MLB 18 if you have already played MLB 17. To me it feels just the same. The omission of online franchise mode and the lack of updates to the offline mode is a big one for me. It's disappointing.
    My early favorite for game of the year has to go to OOTP 19.
    TheEndIsNear4All
    To me, 18 is leaps and bounds better than 17. The graphics, the commentary, the physics of the ball coming off the bat, the colors on jerseys/stadiums, and so much more make this iteration the best to date.
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app

    In what way is the the commentary in 18 leaps and bounds better then 17?
    Yeah commentary is awful. I get that it's bordering on impossible to get good commentary, but it's so bad that I turned it off within 10 games.
    The colour palette is nicer though and makes the whole game look a bit prettier, not sure if the graphics are better or whether the colours just make the game less dreary looking.
    Ball physics seem closer to what they were like last year before they killed them for no apparent reason. It's not perfect but it's a step in the right direction on that front. Still miles away from realistic imo, but at least it's not just late paradise anymore.
    other than that I think it's a pretty sideways year, a few improvement with a few steps backwards. A lot of the game modes have taken a backwards step for me and that's very irritating. The most frustrating thing is the amount of issues from previous years that they didn't fix, that should be the bare minimum expected from a yearly title tbh
    tnixen
    In what way is the the commentary in 18 leaps and bounds better then 17?

    Well considering they now mention a player's contract, draft position, and as you get into franchise discuss your franchise, I'd say it's better than '17.
    I also think the general play by play/color commentating is better than '17.
    It may not be "leaps and bounds" better (and he wasn't stating specifically that commentary was leaps and bounds better, but rather the game overall), but it is definitely the best thus far in the series.
    One thing that annoys me about the commentary. Overuse of a word or phrase.
    Last year, Harold Reynolds used the word "electric" all the time when talking about pitchers. This year Mark DeRosa keeps saying "ambush tactics" all the time.
    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
    PhilliesFan13
    One thing that annoys me about the commentary. Overuse of a word or phrase.
    Last year, Harold Reynolds used the word "electric" all the time when talking about pitchers. This year Mark DeRosa keeps saying "ambush tactics" all the time.
    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
    Yeah same, I shouldn't be memorizing phrases this early yet.
    And I know countryboy mentioned it earlier it earlier that they now talk about contracts. But if they aren't going to do it right, I'd rather them not do it at all. Hearing them talk about how a minor leaguer under team control is on the last year of his contract and is going to test the waters is just annoying.
    I also miss the voice of Harold Reynolds, but can't really fault sds for that.
    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
    smoother animations, but that's about it. They added an "arcadeyness" to the game I'm not too crazy about with all the ridiculous on base celebrations after nearly every damn hit. Still very buggy as well. Stick to '17 until a bunch of things are fixed.
    Bochte23
    smoother animations, but that's about it. They added an "arcadeyness" to the game I'm not too crazy about with all the ridiculous on base celebrations after nearly every damn hit. Still very buggy as well. Stick to '17 until a bunch of things are fixed.

    Glad I am not the only one who hates this.
    I am seeing on base celebrations way to much after meaning less hits and even after the first base hit of the game.
    I am all for adding on base celebrations but only when the situation cause for it.
    SDS needs to add a few different animations example after a meaning less single they should show the batter standing on first base base taking his batting gloves off and talking to either his first base coach or even the first basemen. You see this all the time on real broadcasts.
    PhilliesFan13
    One thing that annoys me about the commentary. Overuse of a word or phrase.
    Last year, Harold Reynolds used the word "electric" all the time when talking about pitchers. This year Mark DeRosa keeps saying "ambush tactics" all the time.
    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

    The third game of my Yankees franchise, when I was playing the Jays, and J.A Happ was pitching, DeRosa was talking about how Happ was having a subpar season, and something along the lines of him not being happy at all with his performance this season. It was his first start of the year, and we were in the 3rd inning, he had given up 0 hits, and 0 runs. That one was a head scratcher.
    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.

    In a nutshell. Picked right from the article text itself.
    tnixen
    Glad I am not the only one who hates this.
    I am seeing on base celebrations way to much after meaning less hits and even after the first base hit of the game.
    I am all for adding on base celebrations but only when the situation cause for it.
    SDS needs to add a few different animations example after a meaning less single they should show the batter standing on first base base taking his batting gloves off and talking to either his first base coach or even the first basemen. You see this all the time on real broadcasts.

    Yes, I agree about the celebrations. I get sick of seeing players treat a 1 out single in the first inning of a game in April like it's a walk off in the World Series.
    I rented it to play over the weekend.
    It's a better representation of the sport no doubt. But it isn't worth full price unless you didn't like how Diamond Dynasty played last year and that's your main mode.
    RTTS is (was) my favorite mode. They've ruined the mode. They did nothing to Franchise besides overhaul the menus.
    When you say the game is the same or didn't change from last year, most people will rebuttal by saying, "It's baseball. What did you expect? Rocketships?" But that's an excuse for lack of innovation. The way we play now can't be the ONLY way to experience the sport.
    So many people are obsessed with the game looking like an actual broadcast when in reality, most of us won't want to watch those same cutscenes over and over. When time is a factor, we will all most likely button through most of the presentation.
    MLB The Show 18 is a great game. But they didn't earn my $60 this year. The series needs some competition and innovation.
    I was very skeptical about getting the game on day one, mostly because I enjoy franchise mode, but I cracked. It is an improved game without a doubt, outside of those who played online franchise. Better animations overall, and I’m not great at attention to detail, but I believe whoever says the strikeout animations are better. I also think the hitting is more responsive, which indirectly affects pitching in a positive way. Ridin’s rosters are great so far! Just buy it. 4.5/5 (5/5 if franchise was improved)
    Caulfield
    Is there any other on-base celebration than the one that looks like drunken karaoker trying to dab? It seems that's the only one I ever notice.

    I get the "stirring the pot" animation a lot, almost exclusively.
    PhilliesFan13
    One thing that annoys me about the commentary. Overuse of a word or phrase.
    Last year, Harold Reynolds used the word "electric" all the time when talking about pitchers. This year Mark DeRosa keeps saying "ambush tactics" all the time.
    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

    I feel like their commentary must be ad libbed because there are so many redundancies. The announcer might say the same word 3 or 4 times in the same sentence. Things even a bad writer would catch. I've been playing MLB 15 since it came out and I definitely prefer the 15 commentary. It seems more polished, probably because it has multiple years of recordings to draw from.
    I'm in that sweet spot (I admittedly notice it in other posters over in the NHL forums) where I'm a fan of baseball, but not in the diehard sense (Opposite of how I am with hockey). 
    So I can enjoy MLB The Show for what it is, I guess in a sense, because I'm ignorant of the way it should be. I rented MLB The Show 18 and was really happy with the roster update, and the way the gameplay felt. I was able to import my MLB The Show 17 season over and continue playing as myself at 3B. On that note, does anyone know if it is possible to import single created players? I've got myself as a 3B in 17, but I was hoping to import just my player over to 18. The Season import is nice and all, but I want to play with the new Brewers season in 18, and more importantly, a realistic version of Thames at first.
    I think I'm going to take the plunge.  Didn't play much of last year's game due to an overall shortage of gaming time, and honestly I've grown pretty bored of all my other sports titles.
    I'm generally a 'Play Now' kind of guy, and it sounds like the gameplay is as tight as ever.
    I'm not sure how none of you (comments included) mention the defense. Sure the catchers have been fixed, but I find, entirely too often in this game, that major league players aren't making plays simple plays even at the high school level. How many times are guys with 60 speed going to get infield singles from a ball hit a step or two away from the shortstop? Or how about the outfield? It's currently a joke and not a good one, I really hope they fix it ASAP.
    actionhank
    I'm in that sweet spot (I admittedly notice it in other posters over in the NHL forums) where I'm a fan of baseball, but not in the diehard sense (Opposite of how I am with hockey).*
    So I can enjoy MLB The Show for what it is, I guess in a sense, because I'm ignorant of the way it should be. I rented MLB The Show 18 and was really happy with the roster update, and the way the gameplay felt. I was able to import my MLB The Show 17 season over and continue playing as myself at 3B. On that note, does anyone know if it is possible to import single created players? I've got myself as a 3B in 17, but I was hoping to import just my player over to 18. The Season import is nice and all, but I want to play with the new Brewers season in 18, and more importantly, a realistic version of Thames at first.

    No you can not import just a single crated player in franchise mode. The year to year save feature is just for franchise mode or Road To The Show. Not a player you created and plugged into your franchise mode and player locked.
    You have to use the same franchise save you do the player lock to keep him on 18.
    Now any SCEA created player on your 17 save file does get the updated face scan, hair, equipment etc when you transfer the file. But if your Thames was a player CAP then no, he will not get the updates when you transfer the file to 18.
    bronxbombers21325
    The third game of my Yankees franchise, when I was playing the Jays, and J.A Happ was pitching, DeRosa was talking about how Happ was having a subpar season, and something along the lines of him not being happy at all with his performance this season. It was his first start of the year, and we were in the 3rd inning, he had given up 0 hits, and 0 runs. That one was a head scratcher.

    Noticed this in game #2 of my franchise, vs TB...think it was Brad Miller in his first AB of the game, and the commentary was around his sub par season and hoping to turn it around...game #2...
    Quick Likes:
    - new colors, love the Red Sox red this year, much more vibrant than the standard color palate red
    - ball physics seem better on hits, more variety through 10 games (more bloopers for sure, more line drives to the outfield, fewer balls that stay in the air forever)
    - new batting glove brands, new fielding glove brands, new cleat models, stance socks, face guards
    - less stutter/judder on cut scenes and foul balls using 'enhanced' graphics (or whatever it's called this year, 'balanced'?.. can't remember)
    - crowds..TB half full for opening series vs Sox, stadium looked nice though, folks walking the concourse etc. Felt more immersive to me somehow.
    - Fish Eye 2 camera. Don't think this was in last year?
    - I use auto fielding, and the animations seems smoother and more natural to my eye this year.
    - New Franchise menus...I like 'em, not a huge improvement per se but the order and optics suit me.
    - The quick response/fix from SCEA with regards to the OSFM roster vault glitch issue.
    Quick Dislikes:
    - Commentary, an example of which is above, along with reused lines and DeRo sounding like the other 2
    - No Nike catchers gear (Nike obviously licensed), no Victus bats (Victus owned by Marucci which is obviously in the game), No Chandler bats (not surprising since not licensed, but given their cover boy uses Chandler...), some popular cleat models taken out (same as every year), Oakley's taken out
    - Season and Online Franchise taken out, no real improvement to Franchise other than menus (which, as I say above, I do like)
    - Marketplace bugs - I 'lost' some cards/stubs, not a huge amount but still annoying
    - Folks talk about catchers being fixed, but I am not seeing it personally...in game #1 Sox vs TB, Sale vs Archer, 4 wild pitches (2 by each starter, HOF Classic pitching) before I even got into the 'pen.
    - Rocket bunts, hits up the middle drilling pitchers who stay in the game. Insanely precise user (Classic) and CPU pitching (AKA few walks). Same 'ol same 'ol.
    - Meh on the base celebrations after every hit, it happens a lot in MLB and it annoys me there too (Sox might be the worst offenders).
    - Overhyped 'batting stance creator' is just a 'batting stance tweaker' with sketchy results IMHO (although I may just not be using it to it's fullest, spent about a half hour trying to edit some stances and with all the restrictions/error notification on hands/elbows/etc etc I got annoyed and gave up). Related to that, the frequency of 'broken wrist' stances - the ones that look like they defy the laws of physics with one hand at an awkward angle.
    - No collision detection (fielders and base runners warping through each other, especially at first base).
    Overall:
    - The good far outweighs the bad for me, given I am exclusively an offline Franchise player. I am very happy to have purchased '18, and would certainly recommend an informed buy understanding some of the removals/omissions. I give it a solid 8/10 so far. Think it probably gets better with another robust patch or two.
    g22
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Executive Editor. Based in Oklahoma.

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