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MLB The Show 20: MLB Players League Highlighting Gameplay Issues

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MLB The Show 20

MLB The Show 20: MLB Players League Highlighting Gameplay Issues

These are tough times for everyone. Game development and team collaboration is more difficult than ever with the social distancing measures currently in place. The inability for a development team to collaborate and innovate quickly is proving increasingly difficult. The ability to bounce around code, files or even ideas for that matter is challenging. That being said, the point remains that fielding right now in MLB The Show 20 is in a rough spot.

The MLB The Show Players League tournament has been a blessing and a curse for San Diego Studio. On one hand, there has never been more attention paid to their product. The best ballplayers in the world are playing their game and streaming it for everyone to see and enjoy. It’s been put together in a way that makes it more enjoyable than the NBA 2K player tournament, and that is a credit to SDS, MLB and the players involved.

The highs have been high and the lows have been low. The dialogue taking place between players during games has been a marketing coup for Major League Baseball as well. As a whole, the tournament has been a plus for everyone involved.

But for the MLB The Show community, the tournament has also provided insights into issues they already knew existed. It’s placed an enormous spotlight on some of the shortcomings the game is currently dealing with.

After an encouraging launch full of gameplay improvements and new content, the game has deteriorated at times into broken animation chains and generally frustrating gameplay in the field. Worse yet, the gameplay issues are no longer limited to online play. Offline play has received a heavy dose of gameplay warts as well. One month post-launch, gameplay patches seem to be doing more harm than good.

Indeed, the first month of MLB The Show 20 has been a frustrating one. The recurring patches deployed to fix problems only seem to exacerbate issues within the confines of the digital diamond. San Diego Studio dealt with a similar trajectory in MLB The Show 18 when patch after patch was pushed out to fix servers and online hitting, only to finally (arguably) right the ship a couple months after launch. By then, irreparable damage had been done to the reputation of the game, already permanently stamping a negative experience into some people’s minds.

The hope is that will not be the case in MLB The Show 20. The game undoubtedly has a strong foundation. In fact, at launch the game felt really good. It was smooth. Hitting was solid and consistent at most difficulty levels. Pitching was far more demanding and temperamental, but felt consistently challenging for all users. Aside from the occasional throwing meter glitch and outfielders failing to catch fly balls they were arriving to, the game felt stable. Those aforementioned issues surely had the potential to cost the user a game here and there, but not so much to induce rage. That is no longer the case.

Outfielding Woes

In the field, the issues are loud and prevalent. Outfielders still struggle to lock onto fly balls, but now seemingly at a much higher clip. To worsen the issue, outfielders sometimes lock onto fly balls too early with improper animations. The animation lock results in a situation that doesn’t allow the user to properly get under the ball, causing the ball the hit the ground.

When the outfielder does get to the ball just in time, occasionally the ball just hits them in the face or chest and drops to the ground. Making the situation worse, the defender just stops trying, staring at the ball until the baserunner has advanced several bases, often causing multiple runs to score.

While this represents a pretty severe glitch, animations chain problems are something different entirely. All too often a ground ball is hit into the outfield and the outfielder gets stuck in an animation that causes them to take several seconds to gingerly throw the ball back in. Anybody that plays consistently knows what this looks like and can comfortably advance a base. This is not a case of momentum. We’re talking about an outfielder simply standing in the outfield, exhibiting pointless motions that don’t get the ball in or advance the play in any way, shape or form.

Frozen Fielders

A lesser issue in the field, there’s now situations where infielders simply miss balls hit right at them. These are not difficult ground balls we’re talking about — these are slow choppers or routine backhand plays that slip right above or below the fielder’s glove. This is understandable as an error for a poor fielding defender, but we’re talking about gold and diamond infielders here. It’s clearly a glitch.

Basrunning Gaffes

On the basepaths, directing baserunners is harder than ever before, and sometimes entirely unresponsive. To add to the headache, the emphasis in momentum on the basepaths makes it almost impossible to send a runner back to the base if they overrun it. This mechanic isn’t necessarily as “broken” as the fielding — it might even be working as intended as it’s arguable how much this component is even “broken” — but it is frustrating and unrealistic to the point it feels like a feature that just needs some tuning. Elsewhere on the basepaths, leading off is a futile effort as runners almost always get picked off (this isn’t new), and stealing bases with players that are not 90-plus on the speed and baserunning scale is a hapless exercise that almost always leads to being thrown out.

That being said, this is much more frustrating in offline play than online as the AI just does not have the same weaknesses as humans. People so often pitch with the same cadence online that a majority of the time you can steal bags even with slow baserunners because you can time the jump. This is a good part of the mechanic as it shows your opponent can’t just fall asleep on the mound and simply pitch with the same timing over and over again. The cat-and-mouse game still exists here.

Bottom Line

(To be clear, we’re pretty sure the above clip is Hunter Pence user error as we’ve done the same thing before where we put our controller down and the trigger accidentally hits the table and stops the runner in his tracks —  as designed and intended. Still, tough break for Pence.)

At the end of the day, MLB The Show 20 has all the building blocks of being a great game. The content team continues to make the most of a really terrible situation without the sport of baseball actually taking place. The team continues to push out good content, supplying the community with good reason to return to Diamond Dynasty on a weekly, if not daily basis. Still, it does feel as though the game is one or two (good) patches away from being a consistently fun product. Until then, players will have to deal with the good and the bad as they navigate their way through both online and offline play. San Diego Studio has never given up on a game mid-cycle, and MLB The Show 20 will be no different. With a little patience and understanding, this too shall most likely pass.

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  1. So just about all the gameplay issues were covered in this article and just wanted to know what and when is something going to be done about this stuff??? SDS has all the tools to get this stuff fixed even in times like this but keeping players in the dark about what’s going to be done to fix this stuff is not a good move and to have mlb players have the game just take a crap on them durning an event should be embarrassing. So the question is left what and when are we all going to see some results from SDS about the current status of the games playability???
    What happens to me is with a baserunner on first and a ground ball hit to the outfield the baserunner will run back to first. I nudge him toward second as soon as I see the issue, but because his momentum is heading toward first he is unabke to reverse his direction in time to beat the throw to second
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app
    Hitting online was so good out of the box and I will never know why they just had to **** with it. It blows my mind that they put so much effort into legitimate, observable improvements and then a month after release return to HR derby gameplay (with the opportunity to get bloops in the last few innings) and nerf directional in multiplayer.
    They have to be getting feedback from some group of people who demand this and I'm just curious as to who.
    Chad211
    So just about all the gameplay issues were covered in this article and just wanted to know what and when is something going to be done about this stuff??? SDS has all the tools to get this stuff fixed even in times like this but keeping players in the dark about what’s going to be done to fix this stuff is not a good move and to have mlb players have the game just take a crap on them durning an event should be embarrassing. So the question is left what and when are we all going to see some results from SDS about the current status of the games playability???

    I use auto field/manual throw so I’m not affected, but geez, what have they done? This patch should concentrate on one issue alone.....fixing this for you guys. Period.
    If nothing else this should be a learning issue for the team. Quit adding crap and fix ALL the bugs and legacy issues. What good does a new shoe type and changing the color of a foul pole have when you’ve got this to live down.
    This has to be SDS worst nightmare...having MLB players call out their issues and bugs. On the other hand, they had to expect that some of this was going to happen going into the agreement.
    It is embarrassing and all efforts should be placed on fixing the bugs seen first hand by the experts. Especially the fielding issues. They have got to get on top of that. And oh yeah, for the love of God, fix the bunting issues and let's have the fielders go to first (not second) on effective sac bunts!!!
    C
    After losing a playoff game in MTO yesterday because of outfield catch failures 2 different times, I'm going to do it... Turn on Auto Fielding for now, that is. So disappointed.
    I can honestly barely play this game right now offline. Feels like the game is constantly fighting me to ruin my experience and make me take bad Ls or artificially give me close games.
    I'm glad this Players tourny is shedding some light on the problems, but if we think that's going to somehow speed up a fix with every SDS employee working from home we're kidding ourselves. I don't expect this to be fixed until June. There's just too much backtracking to be done with hitting and fielding. If it's done earlier than that I'll be pleasantly surprised, but I'm not holding my breath.
    I'm just glad I'm not the type of person that buys Stubs or else I'd be irate right now.
    It is a shame that the biggest ever advertising opportunity has risen up for the game, in the year where the game is in the worst shape. Massive missed opportunity
    dalger21

    I think we’ll see if they get it, but we won’t see until next year. If it’s another, “hey gang, we have a new mode called.....”, but a runner on second will go back to the bag when the 3rd baseman charges to field a bunt then we’ll know if they really took this to heart.

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