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MLB The Show 19 Review

MLB The Show 19

MLB The Show 19 Review

The release of MLB The Show 19 is, for myself and many others, the official beginning of the MLB season. This year’s release has its occasional hiccups, but this is the best on-field video game baseball in years.

What I Like

Gameplay

Veterans of the series will immediately notice how responsive hitting is. Players can chase balls outside of the zone, square up pitches, and poke others where defenders are not regardless of the count. I have triggered multiple no-doubt home-run animations after squaring up a pitch in an 0-0 count on higher difficulty levels. I rip base hits down the line now. Pitchers jump out of the way of batted balls (they still get hit, but only occasionally instead of once-per-game). The CPU makes fielding and throwing errors now. In short, The Show is a hitter’s paradise once more and feels very, very different. Players are thrown into an unusually zoomed-in batting camera — one that more closely mimics what many online fanatics already were using before this season — and an unusually zoomed-out fielding camera. I have yet to change either setting. The batting camera yield greater emphasis on reading pitch movement, which works wonderfully with some of the redesigned hitting. Punishment for early count swinging has been considerably reduced.

It only takes tracking one outfield flyout with a speedy outfielder for veteran players to feel the difference in defense. Players glide, do not get trapped in pre-set animations, and do not botch routine outs just because they are partially not on the field indicator. Poor defenders occasionally get slower reads on ball angles or drop outs, while better defenders can read how balls will hit off of the outfield walls.

Moments

I have really, really enjoyed Moments so far. A narrative-based twist on last year’s Programs with an added challenge ladder centered around baseball history. Rewards are cumulative and worthwhile for Diamond Dynasty players, and the mode truly shines in high-leverage, short-duration scenarios. Going back in time is a blast even with anachronisms such as Steve Finley, Michael Brantley and Jeff Bagwell hitting in the same lineup, or Babe Ruth in front of an MLB.com advertisement. Restarts are immediate but you have to wait until after the play is done. This gives users a taste of elite Diamond Dynasty players, which is a great way to push you towards Moments and towards working to acquire other elite DD cards as well. The mode has its drawbacks (more on that shortly), but it  will be interesting to see how these grow throughout the season.

Diamond Dynasty’s Updates

Two months ago, I was wondering if this would be the first year in my life since the mid-90s I would not purchase a baseball game. Today, I am combing the Community Market once more and looking for any and every opportunity to grow my beloved Diamond Dynasty squad. If you are unaware, much-desired updates to DD include XP earned in every mode going towards DD rewards, the removal of collectibles, the shifting of exchange missions to optional, Community Market prices and immediate “Sell Now” options displayed on cards as you acquire them, multiple lineups (but make sure you set them as primary before playing), a minimum sale/purchase offer that falls within a card’s average value, multiple (and some smaller) Conquest maps, and quick stat comparisons between players. There really is something for everyone here, and what feels like almost constant rewards makes your team feel like it is always growing. If you’re a DD fan, you’re in for a treat.

New Pause Screen

A small but great new feature: the pause screen now shows much more data in an easy-to-read manner without having to climb through a maze of menus.

The Near-Perfect Road To The Show

Road to the Show is exceptional. It was great last year as well, but some good tweaks put it in a bit of a sweet spot. Players can finally choose the team that drafts them, and RPG-style in-game skills are baked into progression trees. It truly possesses phenomenal depth and has been polished to near perfection this year. The dynamic in-game challenges, where you select what you think your player can pull off in certain plate appearances, were an excellent touch. Don’t forget, you can build up your career as a college player before jumping into the draft with performance boosts after each year. It would be great if this was a two-second button push instead of multiple years of showcases and drafts. Otherwise, the lack of two-way players and customizable archetypes can hopefully be remedied in the next release cycle.

What I Do Not Like

March To October’s Depth

I treasured Critical Situations in franchise mode. I take multiple franchises with different teams into multiple years, but I’m never playing the full 162 games. Key Moments were an exceptional way to add narrative and replayability to franchise mode for those of us who simmed a lot of the calendar but still found time to play. March to October could be a better fit folded into a franchise mode option instead of a standalone mode or even replacement of season mode. Each month takes about an hour or so depending on your difficulty level, and it has Diamond Dynasty incentives. Consider it a shorter, narrative-driven XP grind, if that is of interest to you. I always appreciate the developers’ efforts to jazz up the series’ perennial offerings, but the watered-down season mode does not offer much in terms of replay value. If I were going to take one of the Longshots and try to win a World Series, I would do it in franchise mode where I have more control over the entire organization and careful player acquisition. That being said, the mode does a great job of mixing in a variety of missions, and none of them are ever too time consuming. How great would that team-specific video be before you start franchise mode? I just wonder if this would be better suited as an enhanced franchise option instead of a full-blown mode.

Luck-Based Moments Missions

Moments have a handful of luck-based missions that feel especially difficult due to elements of the game outside of the player’s control. One instance is re-creating Jose Bautista’s epic bat flip from the 2015 ALDS. All a player has to do is hit a home run to pass the mission. The home run felt impossible despite squaring up the ball in all sorts of different counts, and it made me dread any instance where a home run is a mandatory part of the Moment. Three hits in a row missed a home run by mere feet. Sometimes the CPU would throw four straight balls. It made me very hesitant to attempt a Moment with a mandatory home run requirement, and unfortunately, there are tons of them. I find myself blindly swinging for the fences in multi-game home run requirements, abandoning all other baseball strategy just in the hopes of getting these dingers out of the way as soon as possible.

Another is being player locked as Babe Ruth to pitch a complete game shutout in the World Series. I found myself surrounded by randomly incapable defenders that would see a routine chopper that required zero range bounce off of their glove in one at-bat only to have the same defender make a Nolan Arenado diving stop in the next one. After losing the Babe Ruth challenge for the third time in a row to the same hitter in the same inning, I found myself very disinterested in trying it again. These random luck-based missions can greatly hamper the fun and flow of the mode. It is frustrating to figure out that on the first day of the game’s release, I will likely not complete a handful of the programs due to their mission requirements.

Franchise Mode Lacks Updates

One of the hottest topics surrounding this year’s release has been the improvements or lack thereof to what was once the driving mode behind purchasing a perennial sports title for many folks. And, frankly, outside of razor-sharp presentation, very little feels new. Many requested features, such as relocation, team creation, a stadium editor, and three-team trades still remain absent. Budgets remain difficult as well. Adhering to the game’s wonky budget also yields a “Franchise Budget” section where you can buy extra money for free agents with Stubs. While maintaining a budget can be fun, MLB The Show 19 unfortunately remains too messy to even bother with it. Turning off budget restrictions before starting a franchise remains the best option. Regardless, it is still tremendously fun to hunker down and take ownership of a team from top to bottom.

The Running Game

A Terrance Gore drag bunt remains a success almost every time I try it, which does wonders for some of these peskier Moments, but can be immensely frustrating online. Pickoffs remain completely impossible. The game decides whether or not your leading runner will be picked off with almost automatic timing. It hurts a fundamental component of the game as players with a 94 speed rating will get stuck in quicksand before reaching second while the computer has divine ease swiping the same bag with a low-70s speed baserunner. This has been an issue for a few years now, and this studio generally does a great job of addressing the series’ exploits and breaks. Here’s hoping that baserunning and pickoffs are next.

Final Analysis

MLB The Show 19 has easily the sharpest baseball gameplay in years and is a clear improvement over its predecessors. The on-field product is tremendous, and feels both varied and rewarding. It is a must-have for series newcomers, longtime veterans, and even fans who have skipped a year or two. Franchise mode did not receive the boost that fans were hoping for, but it remains an engaging experience. SIE San Diego Studio has done well to innovate the game and franchise, and I am thrilled to see what the studio puts out next year as well.

21 Comments

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  1. It would be nice if this article could also elaborate on the defensive perspective of Player Lock and RTTS which is fundamentally the same. Opposed to just the 1st player perspective experience.
    The Player Lock and RTTS defensive experience feels overlooked considering the number of issues with these modes defensively that have been consistent over the years most notably.
    PickOff Moves: The basic pick off move when playing as a short stop or a second basemen.
    The controls do not work and have not been improved over a very long period of time. And the CPU always returns safe. Regardless of runner speed or ratings. The controls are also listed incorrectly in the help menu for several years.
    Defensive Shifts: I have mentioned this before but when playing as a Infield Position failure too move your player in time before the count down timer reaches zero. Results in your player being on top of the other infielders. You also have to repeat this process for for each pitch. As a work around you can change the option to “Some” which says only non-routine hits but it’s not very clear exactly what that option means.
    Tagging: Several times on defense while a play is still active runners will often jog into second and third base and a user controlled Player Lock or RTTS player is unable to make the tag. Defensive ratings do not affect this in any way. It’s especially painful in close games as you are left with no choice to make a play.
    Cut Off Relays: Often your controlled Player Lock or RTTS infielder is overlooked when throws come from the outfield. Even when you are in key spots the ball comes in and disregards your controlled player on the field and goes to the next available CPU fielder completely taking you out of the play and often allowing runs to score.
    I'm planning on picking the game up for the first time in a few years. Hopefully I'm not disappointed with franchise considering it's basically the only mode I play.
    Frame Rate issue is such a disappointment.
    I feel like I get very tired after a short period. My eyes can't take it!
    Waiting patiently for a possible fix or acknowledgement...
    XxGamerXx
    No mention of the stuttering and fps drops....

    I dont have the game but based of the past I am guessing that most people dont have the issue because it has been said the game is at 60 FPS the last like 10 years yet ever year there is like a thread talking about FPS issues.
    I so agree with the part about pickoffs.
    I wish they would implement something like the meter you get when catching (button throwing) when someone steals a base.
    This could work for both sides.
    Pitching: same meter while catching that determines how accurate the pickoff is.
    Baserunning: when the pitcher makes a pickoff move the play slows down and a meter appears to determine how fast your reaction is to get back.
    Player ratings will still be a factor based on how big the sweatspot is for a good pickoff or the reaction time a baserunner has but gives you more user input as well.
    I think something like this could make this pasrt of baseball in The Show so much more exciting!
    Review is pretty much spot-on, but I too wish the frame rate issues were at least mentioned. It’d be really nice to see at least one review call it out, and it seems like OS would be the best outlet to do so since they dive a lot deeper than the likes of IGN or Gamespot.
    Good review.
    Agreed that on the field gameplay is absolutely superb and also agree that franchise mode is in need of some quality of life updates, but the mode is still fun and enjoyable to play.
    I completely agree with your take on "Luck-Based Moments Missions."  I would enjoy said missions be of multiple options...i.e. 1 HR or 4 hits or 3 RBI's over a 2 game series.  Or maybe throw in a WALK in there someplace.  But I greatly enjoy the fact that if it is a "Hitting Mission" you only have to go through the AB's and not all the other parts of the game.
    Frame rate issues, lack of improvements and upgrades to franchise mode. Pass for me. I'll stick to MLB 18 until next year and hope we see changes.
    Smallville102001
    I dont have the game but based of the past I am guessing that most people dont have the issue because it has been said the game is at 60 FPS the last like 10 years yet ever year there is like a thread talking about FPS issues.

    I have a bridge to sell you if you think that the game has ever been 60fps in the last 10 years
    Smallville102001
    I dont have the game but based of the past I am guessing that most people dont have the issue because it has been said the game is at 60 FPS the last like 10 years yet ever year there is like a thread talking about FPS issues.

    Yes, I don't have an issue. Is there anyway on of these people can post a youtube video showing the problem with the frame rate?
    I feel the same way about moments. I gave it a shot and kept an open mind but it's not for me. The player lock is absolutely frustrating. I can't watch an AI controlled defender make another boneheaded play or I will pull my hair out. Combine that with the fact that the moments aren't historically accurate, and it's just not my cup of tea. Also I find it very hard to hit/pitch in black and white for some reason. I would prefer they just did these in color. The black and white feature is pointless when I am playing in a modern Fenway park.
    XxGamerXx
    I have a bridge to sell you if you think that the game has ever been 60fps in the last 10 years

    I have had almost ever mlb the show for the last like 10 years and I have never ever had a FPS issue ever. I dont known why some people have it and a lot dont.
    Some people just aren’t as picky about it or don’t play PC games to see how much smoother they often are than console games, but yeah this isn’t the first time the series has had framerate issues. MLB 14 for example, the first of the series on PS4, had an awful framerate on foul balls and cutscenes as they hadn’t figured out optimization on the new system yet. 17 on release had a nasty fps hitch right before every pitch, with they eventually patched, so I’m still optimistic that a future update will address this.

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