MLB The Show 20’s post-launch free content updates have been nothing short of stellar this cycle. SDS continues to provide us with new Diamond Dynasty experiences and players. What SDS is doing provides the game with a level of longevity that not long ago was unheard of for a sports title and gives it legs well beyond the real-life MLB season. It also does so in a way that is unique in the “card collecting” space in that it feels the least intrusive/exploitive when it comes to expecting money for cards.
However, there is always room for improvement, and no critics are better equipped than players who have dumped an unreasonable amount of time into the game (see: me). So here is an MLB The Show 21 Diamond Dynasty wishlist to kick off the new year.
More Time Between Programs
Unless you are playing this game — and this game only — during the bulk of your post-work free time, you will not complete programs as they go live. Sure, players can whittle away at earlier programs via online play and Showdown modes, but online play remains incredibly divisive and Showdowns can be significant time sinks. Perhaps SDS could increase the amount of daily missions or each program’s length, as even with consistent playing, I always find myself five to 15 stars short of 300. Surely, this scarcity factors into card values, but even as an avid player of the mode, I found myself questioning the pursuit of multiple programs.
Again, you can always hit 300 stars even after a program has “ended” so to speak, but I think how you fill that backlog of 300 stars should be better represented by more options to get there.
The Ability To Sort Your Inventory
Let’s say you just came into a bounty of pack bundles and wanted to now see who in your inventory has the highest fastball velocity. You would have to go, well, player by player through your inventory or the squad screen. Searchable in-game “velocity” itself is not a direct rating of pitch speed, so you would likely overlook a number of pitchers with high heat but worse peripherals.
Or maybe there’s a new daily mission that requires you to play as White Sox hitters, and you have a squad roster spot open at 3B. Unless you went back and forth between the slower inventory screens or immediately found the card you were looking for, you would be limited by the clunky squad screen. And if you wanted that hitter to bat left-handed or switch hit? Hope you already had someone in mind.
In theory, simple “team” or “handedness” filters would be very easy to implement and provide an immediate boost to the squad interface.
More Offline Missions Overall
Few gaming experiences were as engrossing as getting locked into a great MLB The Show offline mission and battling it to completion. However, once it was complete, there was an overwhelming feeling of “now what?” that abruptly ended the experience. It was wonderful for SDS to scatter offline options throughout the season, but the mandate for online play often remained. The abundance of offline missions for Postseason rewards and the 11th Inning Program were a great step in the right direction, and hopefully they will function like test programs of the future rather than endgame bonuses.
Overall, I think SDS started to find a balance again providing offline content for folks to play this year, but the developers could still do a bit more to nail it.
Better Team Affinity Interface
This has been a painful oversight that thankfully feels easily remediable. Open up the Team Affinity screen and see how long it would take you to figure out which team is closest to 150 innings. Unless you quite literally write down each number and go by every single team, you won’t know. Why not just have a quick screen that shows each team’s progress to its next innings milestone in a little line graph so that you can strategically structure your squad to maximize your Team Affinity progress?
Easy Way To View Mission Progress
With so many missions buried across so many programs, it is easy to lose track of what you need to accomplish, especially with different online and offline mission needs. After each game, there is a stat tracker that shows, among other things, Team Affinity progress per players featured in that game. Why not extend this so that players can quickly track mission progress? It is admittedly difficult to balance which types of players need to accomplish what, and there is already an in-game tracker for your three daily missions. Still, it feels like more could be done here to at least clean up the postgame screen so it removes missions you already completed and don’t need anymore — even if they’re repeatable, they should be removed when you already knocked out all the goals tied to that repeatable mission, for example.
The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater remake did an excellent job of allowing players to select and track certain mission progression in the pause screen, so maybe that is one example to look to here.
More Repeatable Conquest Rewards
Run It Back was something of a dream come true for longtime players. Conquests have always been repeatable, but Run It Back was the perfect combination of length and repeatable rewards to almost always encourage a playthrough. I adore Conquest’s quick games, unique challenges, and fun maps. At the same time, the fun usually ends far too soon with Conquest.
The November expansion of Run It Back’s 11 new legend cards gave significant replay value to an already must-play challenge. Here’s hoping that MLB The Show 21 has more than just one of these.
Introducing The DH
This is a point of contention every year, but considering the abundance of excellent hitters, the pain of hitting with pitchers, and the fixed roster sizes, Diamond Dynasty is begging for a DH option. Sure, it is nice to get bailed out by online opponents pulling their previously dominant pitcher for an ultimately unnecessary pinch hitter (and even juicier when the reliever they bring in blows the lead in the 8th inning), but is that occasionally rare liberation worth batting with Tom Seaver instead of your abundance of 125/125 power hitters?
Traditionalists understandably want pitchers to keep hitting, but as the real-life game potentially has seen its last-ever non-DH game, it does feel a bit odd to not at least have the option in some DD offerings.
Choosing The Time Of Day
Yes, we can pick the calendar month and time of the day, but as it stands right now, it is not possible to play a game where the full game is played at night. The in-game sunsets are gorgeous, but sometimes it would be nice to play start to finish with the sun fully down under the stadium lights.
Between the Topps Now moments, Postseason challenges, fully fleshed out card marketplaces, Conquest maps, and various Player Programs, The Show is well equipped to hold a player’s attention through the doldrums of winter. Let’s hope MLB The Show 21 does even more to nail Diamond Dynasty.