Moving on from part one where we covered the “most common” issues currently hindering MLB The Show 20 in the field, let’s discuss a couple other areas of the fielding.
The categories I’ll now cover include situation-specific issues, legacy issues, non-issues and issues introduced via patches. This is a more diverse group, and some of the stuff I’ll talk about is relatively rare. This is also the area where there can be more debate about the problems themselves and how important or unimportant they are.
Please check out part one if you have not as of yet, and read on now to get part two of our breakdown and analysis of the fielding issues in MLB The Show 20.
At The Wall
On some level, this is a legacy issue as well, but the point is right now it’s just very unclear what’s happening at the wall on catches. It ties into not having animations trigger sometimes (as we’ve already covered in part one), but also you just don’t know if you can catch the ball or not at the wall when the landing zone indicator is right near where the warning track meets the wall. On some level, this is probably as designed, but it’s still not working as expected.
In the above example, the outfielder covers an insane distance to get to the wall, but then notices no animation will trigger and aborts at the last moment. I get that the game wants to provide mystery on whether or not the ball can be caught at the wall, but it doesn’t play out as the developers probably want because it ends up just looking silly when the ball bounces off the wall right near your head. You just think the outfielder should have reached up and caught the ball. In a perfect world, that moment at the wall where the risk-reward of trying to catch the ball at the wall rather than wait for the ball to bounce off it pays off one way or the other in a fashion that looks visually acceptable. Whatever is happening right now during that moment is not visually acceptable.
This is compounded when the AI fielder won’t pick up the ball after finally running it down, showing the pick-up issue can impact AI-controlled players as well. (Side note, that’s a hell of a bounce off the wall to travel that far back towards the infield.)
Frozen In A Rundown
Rundowns actually have not caused me much distress this year. Even with the bug I’m about to show off, it still doesn’t lead to any negative outcomes. In that sense, it’s a big step up from prior years where rundowns were just an absolute disaster at times. The developers have improved these over the years, but there’s still one weird issue where sometimes fielders simply won’t move off the bag.
Here the 2B will not budge the first time around, even though I want him to chase the runner. I can still throw whenever I want to (good!), but I just can’t move at all (bad!). I think this might have something to do with not wanting to leave the bag unless it’s being covered by someone else, but that’s my only guess for how the designers implemented this portion of the rundown. I say that because there seems to be something specifically about second base being the weird frozen spot. Eventually the 2B here gets coverage from an oncoming fielder coming in to rotate for him during the second phase of the rundown, so I’m able to move and tag the runner.
Again, the 2B is frozen here even as two fielders sort of stare at him at one point. Again, I think maybe something isn’t triggering with an AI player coming to cover the bag (even though there’s two players in the area), and so you can’t move off the spot.
Frozen For No Reason
This happens in a couple different scenarios, but neither is entirely new. I think they might be happening a little more often than they did in the past, but “frozen” fielders have been a thing before in the series.
A “normal” person might not notice anything going on here, but longtime veterans can probably tell that the 2B can’t move. He makes the play, but the game basically locks you into an animation right after the ball is hit, and you just have to wait for the ball to get to you. In other words, you can’t charge the ball or goof up the hop by trying to meet it early. The game has instead decided you will get the ball, but just on its terms. This might tie into ratings on some level, but it just feels very weird to be out of control for so long. In the outfield, you get sucked into animations here and there, but it’s not usually at times where you’d still like to move most of the time.
“Frozen” fielders has improved in some ways. For example, I don’t feel as helpless when a looping liner comes at my corner infielders — sometimes now they leap and catch the ball rather than just watch it go over their heads. Overall, the frozen infielder waiting to snag a grounder is the lesser of the two “frozen” player issues from a legacy perspective.
— Theo Reaves (@mrCPUgeek) April 16, 2020
The above example is the worse version. Again, this has happened in past games at points, but it just seems to be popping up a little more than usual. For whatever reason, sometimes a player will complete one animation, but then he never breaks out of that first automated animation loop, and thus you never get control of the fielder back. Here, the pitcher finishes his throwing motion, but then you never get the chance to move the pitcher again.
I think this problem is a little harder to reproduce than others on this list, but obviously it can really suck if it happens at a bad time, or when no fielders are even around. The bright side here is at least this one happens on the infield so the drawback is only so big this time around.
Infielder Does Not Reach For Ball
This is a small issue because it’s really specifically online where I think it happens. It might even just be a visual bug that is only being seen by your opponent because of what the game does with latency and FPS to make the experience smooth for both sides. In other words, sometimes what I see on my screen online is not exactly what my opponent is seeing.
With that caveat mentioned, at least on my screen this looks like a legacy issue from the past where your infielder just doesn’t animate towards the ball. I don’t think the infielder should make the play here, but he should reach down to at least try to grab the ball. These are 50/50 pick-ups a lot of the time (and they should be because it’s not an easy play), but you should still get an animation every time. The user’s gameplay decision here is deciding whether to dive or not, and here this user decides not to dive and instead reach, which is fine. We just need an animation to trigger on that reach.
Not Tagging The Runner
Again, I leave this one up for slight interpretation because it could just be an online visual bug. However, I think I’m right in believing it’s not that.
On the steal, the player covering the base does not reach down to tag the baserunner even though the baserunner clearly would have been out. This used to be a big problem online, but this is super rare now. This is the only time I’ve had it trigger this year, and I try to steal a lot of bases online — because I’m scum, and also because almost everyone just pitches as quickly as possible, which makes it very easy to get good jumps. So I think this is a very rare problem because I have not seen much written about it this year, but I still want to cover my bases.
Visual Landing Zone Bug
I believe the most glaring element introduced came with the most recent update (Update 1.08):
“Fixed an issue that would cause outfielders to miss catches when a user reached the catch region at the last possible moment.”
I can’t confirm the patch note above explains what I’m about to talk about, but I believe what I’m about to show you started happening after that update.
Personally, I don’t have a huge problem with the outcomes I’ve seen with these plays specifically because it mostly seems like a visual bug. The player is locking on and making the play, so this issue is not creating new errors beyond the confusion of seeing a landing spot that is inaccurate. I suspect this was supposed to be the overall fix for the problems with outfielders not animating when they get to the landing zone, but clearly that problem has not been fixed.
Here is another example:
Again, I’m running back to the ball, and then at some point the game just decides this is good enough and locks me into the spot to make the catch. It’s weird, but no harm done really. This is different from the legacy issue below that looks weird because it warps your player to the ball — the landing zone indicator remains accurate in these instances.
This example is the more common way we’re used to seeing the “suction” outfield plays work out. If you can’t tell, my player skates to the landing zone spot. It’s almost like the landing zone is acting as a tractor beam that is bringing both the ball and outfielder to each other — visual oddities be damned. This looks weird, but it’s something we have seen for years.
This last portion I include because I want to sort of parse out some of the “bugs” people might be talking about. I fully admit some of them could be disputed as bugs, but I don’t think they’re the real problem here even if you consider them bugs.
Landing Zones Do Still Matter
I intentionally miss a fly ball here just to show landing zones should and do still matter. I’m in the landing spot at the start, but as it shrinks I don’t move my player. Eventually, this means I will miss the ball. This is a good outcome. The game should not be in control of your player many seconds before the ball arrives — even on a lazy fly out. To me, this is not an issue.
However, what should never happen (in this hypothetical scenario) is a fielder missing the catch if he was on the spot when the ball arrived and was locked onto the spot by the game. A lazy fly out should be an out 10/10 times if you lock on with any outfielder — assuming he is in his primary/secondary defensive position — and we should not instead get an animation where he botches the catch. Even if something like this did happen one out of one million times in real life, it’s not something we would need in a video game.
Here is another example of what I consider acceptable in this department:
This is Charlie Blackmon, and this is another one where this is my fault. I stop a little short and start slowing down, and the ball carries a little more than I expected. By the time I start to try and change my course, I have already slowed down and the game has started to lock me into a general cone of space. The game does not really allow me to speed back up and fix my goof. I think this is as designed and plays out as it should. I made a bad initial read, and I should not get to move a ton now that the ball is approaching.
Blackmon is able to reach back and still make the grab, but I would have been fine with missing the catch because I made a bad read with a bad fielder even though the game gave me the proper visual data. This is the risk of using Blackmon and having a smaller area for my landing zone.
Ratings Do Still Matter
Here is another outcome I would consider good. This is a bronze outfielder hard charging a liner. He gets to the spot but can’t reach down to make the play. He keeps the ball in front of him while animating the botched catch, and then picks up the ball seamlessly to throw it back into the infield. This is what I suspect many people would be totally fine with if we get to this point consistently. The lack of any animation triggering is the inherent issue, not the errors themselves. Perhaps people think gold or diamond fielders should never botch the above play, and fair enough, but that’s an argument for tuning rather than bug fixing at that juncture. When we get to only needing to have those sorts of discussions, that should mean MLB The Show 20 is in a great place.