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MLB The Show 21 Predictions - Where Do the Graphical Improvements Show Up?

mlb the show 21 predictions

MLB The Show 21

MLB The Show 21 Predictions - Where Do the Graphical Improvements Show Up?

MLB The Show 21 is certainly one of the most anticipated games coming next year on next-generation consoles. The series has been solid, albeit a bit stale for the last couple years. That said, brand new, turbo-charged hardware is sure to boost expectations from a community begging for more from San Diego Studio. Given what we have seen from industry-adjacent titles such as NBA 2K21, FIFA 21, and even Madden 21, has the bar been raised for the one true baseball simulation experience on the market?

Overall, it’s been an interesting couple months for sports games, so let’s review some of the headlines from sports titles making the jump to the next console generation before making some “educated” MLB The Show 21 predictions.

NBA 2K21

NBA-2K21-Next-Gen-Stephen Curry

The first sports game to release and make a leap to the next-generation platforms, NBA 2K21 impressed some consumers by beefing up the visuals and bringing a new generation of immersion to the table. Visual Concepts set an incredibly high bar for the industry when it comes to graphical quality and visual fidelity.

Lighting, more than anything, took an enormous jump forward with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game. Lighting has more of a natural, environmental feel, rather than an artificially installed surface render. Players appear more lifelike. This, in turn, makes the entire simulation feel more immersive and, frankly, real.

On the court, wood tones from the playing surface take in and reflect light in a more organic way. Instead of playing on a video game surface, it truly feels as though you’re running up and down floorboards recently waxed by the arena crew. While it’s not actual ray-tracing technology, the ability for the arena to utilize more power from the next-generation consoles makes an enormous difference. That said, it’s safe to assume real ray tracing technology will be coming to the 2K series in the next year or two.

Finally, the eyes. The eyes, as they say, are a way to one’s soul. Games have been trying for years, decades even, to harness the life that is intrinsically baked into every one person’s unique stare. NBA 2K21 takes a leap forward in this department as well. The lighting as it plays off the different parts of the eyeball feels more authentic. Even in replays, the way the eyeballs move and scan their environments feel somewhat more convincing.

Graphically, the 2K series has always been the platinum trophy on the proverbial mantle in the gaming community. It’s what each series should shoot for coming out of the gates.

FIFA 21

fifa 21 next-gen review

EA Sports is usually doubted by its consumers right now, and for good reason. The erosion of franchise mode in most of its games, the not-so-subtle lean into microtransactions, and the marginal crawl of gameplay improvements have fans banging on tables. That said, FIFA 21 did kick it up on the pitch, and I would consider this year’s next-gen debut a nice win as a “free” upgrade this time around.

It’s impossible not to start with Frostbite’s inclusion of the new strand-hair technology. The new feature has without a doubt set a new standard for hair physics in sports videos games, maybe in video games period. While the physics can seem a touch overdone at times, the overall effect is jaw-dropping and brings to life a piece of gaming that has troubled developers and designers for years. Long hair, short hair, different hair styles, it doesn’t matter. Each strand of hair lives a life of its own, moving in the physical space of momentum its player provides.

Special thanks to Digital Foundry for this excellent shot

On the pitch, skin tones are vastly improved, receiving light from their environments in a more natural, beautiful way. Pores appear real. Blemishes appear aged rather than painted on. The casing of a player seems to come with layers upon layers rather than an eggshell representation of what the player’s face-scan might have provided.

It doesn’t stop there. Mouth physics and textures appear more genuine. Eyes have been given a bump in quality. Even the uniform textures themselves move in a fantastic, organic way. It’s a triumph for EA Sports, there’s no way around it. This was a win in terms of taking a pre-released game on the current gen and beefing it up for a next-generation debut. There’s no complacency here.

Madden 21

madden 21 next-gen review

Like its sister series, FIFA, Madden has been shoveled heaping handfuls of criticism over the past few years, none more bombastic than the 2020 Twitter hashtag demanding consumers avoid the product completely. NFL players even jumped on the bandwagon. It was a public relations nightmare. This, of course, was with regards to the previous generation release — not what was presented on next gen.

The next-generation release itself was very odd. The marketing of the next-gen debut was just strange. Virtually zero gameplay of the product was provided to the public pre-release, leaving many to anticipate a lackluster jump. In fact, many assumed it would be more of a port with the potential for better frame rates if anything. Those people were wrong in some respects and right in others.

While Madden 21 on next-generation consoles didn’t make the advancements of the two aforementioned games before it, it did provide some meaningful enhancements, as well as improvements on the physics side of things.

Like NBA 2K21 and FIFA 21, Madden 21 got a lighting buff both in terms of skin tones and stadiums. Uniforms and helmets received a more believable brand of reflection, especially in adverse weather conditions when the textures appear wet. Muscle textures pop off the player models a bit better, and the overall depth of view just felt more immersive when diving in here.

On the physics side, players move a little slower and more naturally. Locomotion in Madden 21 on next-gen consoles felt a little more as-advertised rather than something shot out of an arcade. All in all, it was a step forward for the series, though they’ll certainly have to take another jump with Madden 22 with the morsel of momentum they’ve provided themselves here.

MLB The Show 21

MLB The Show 21 Predictions

So where does that leave us in terms of expectations for the 2021 release of MLB The Show? If its parallels are any indication, consumers should be expecting an improvement worthy of the added cost.

First, let’s start with material improvements. Uniform textures in MLB The Show over the past generation seemed to peak in 2015. Fabric physics lagged behind most other sports games, and the lighting was artificially added to each shot. That shouldn’t be the case in 2021. Consumers should expect better uniforms with more lifelike textures and a lighting engine added to the stadiums that promotes a more immersive experience. Dirty, wet, or even ripped uniforms should be possible. Unbuttoning the top button of a uniform should be possible. Chains that move with a momentum engine should be possible. Will all this be included? Maybe not. But sizable improvements on the apparel side are coming.

Second, skin tone improvements are almost a given from this chair. Skin tones have been troubling in MLB The Show for a while now, especially as it pertains to created players or players without a face scan. At bare minimum, the most famous players in baseball should have more lifelike skin tones and lighting enhancements that promote a human being on the field. Facial reactions of excitement, anger, and joy should come through. NBA 2K, Madden, and FIFA all achieved this in different ways this year — some games better than others. Knowing what San Diego Studio has accomplished in the past, and in previous console generation jumps, this is likely near the top of the design list.

red sox home run swings

Thirdly, field improvements could possibly be on the way, most notably on the textural side of grass. For one reason or another, the playing surface in stadiums has failed to present a realistic portrayal of what a baseball field looks like on television, let alone in-person. This is less likely than the two improvements listed above, but still something to keep an eye out for moving forward. Other pieces of stadium authenticity like dirt/dust, stadium textures, and fans could all see a pop in believability as well.

Bottom Line

This is not an article about what the consumer deserves. What this should serve as is a predictive tool, based on genre-adjacent titles, and what to expect this spring from San Diego Studio on the graphics front.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility we see a delayed release into May for the next-generation iteration of MLB The Show (purely speculation on my part), but regardless of when the game releases, consumers should hold the belief that this game will launch looking drastically more improved than its ancestor from 2020, and that should be exciting to think about as we look beyond graphics to consider what else might be possible.

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  1. Nowhere, since this small team has extra work to do on a different platform.
    I expect the same thing as Mlb 2020 with hi-res and maybe just maybe 60fps locked. Forget about clothes physics, different textures on the field etc, etc...
    graphically speaking I can't/won't speak of
    but other wildly entertaining and outrageous Caulfield predictions:
    A) - Create-A-Stadium is still just over the horizon but right in our periphery is the next best thing, Create-A-Mansion, for your RTTS hotshot to fill with all manner of Big League hardware and other random assortment of toys and sich
    B) - for your Diamond Die-Nasty pleasures needs and consideration, you can purchase things like:
    flames shooting from under your speedy speedster when he speedily steals first base, second base, third base, homeplate, and then the dugout.
    sparks flying and thunder roars from your Big Mac's bat when he launches the perfect statcast Launch Angle tater
    laser and light show galore from your DD hurler when he hits triple digits on the radar.
    and when he breaks off the best breaking pitch possible, Matrix-style slomos to perplex the opposing would-be hitter.
    pitches that bend beyond belief and bewilder and bewitch brazen batters
    C) - in lieu of 90 man rosters, for those with little time to invest in full franchise mode, M20 2 Point O --- 10 man rosters with no wiggle room for error when you play this years M20 60 game customisable sched
    and the most criminally insane prediction for Show 21:
    D) - I got three words for ya --- Create-A-Fan --- razz the opposing team all game long with insults not fit for your granny to hear. make homemade signs to place around your park... make your fan Fan-HoF-worthy, with either the 300 pound beer belly fan... or the ultimate most obnoxious fan to flip a turnstile --- Karen. you know you wanna
    Graphical improvements would be the bare minimum change in my opinion. But judging by new releases from the other "big sports franchises" the show 21 will simply be updated graphics and more focus on microtransactions.
    I expect them just to throw a "new" lighting model over the same textures, increase Anti-Aliasing for the 4k textures and call it a day. At least for the first title on "next gen". Hopefully next year (the show 22) they actual work on rebuilding player models, textures, physics, animations, etc. to really showcase what next gen sports titles can look like.
    I just hope to find a console by next May. I’m still upset I paid a premium price for Madden and NBA 2K just for the right to have them on the new consoles and here I sit with no way to play the next gen versions.
    Would also love for them to bring (back?) a full, uninterrupted presentation mode. If I have the time, I want to be able to play a game with no cuts:
    Show the ball being thrown around the horn. Show the ball being thrown back to the pitcher. Show the pitcher occasionally stepping off the mound. Show every batter's full walk up to the plate. Show the batter step out momentarily and look at the base coach. All of those details. If I have time, I want to be fully immersed to that level.
    I hope CAPs are completely redesigned on next gen to the point where they look like face scans of real people. That would be huge for the minor leagues and vintage roster makers.
    Jolly Roger
    I hope CAPs are completely redesigned on next gen to the point where they look like face scans of real people. That would be huge for the minor leagues and vintage roster makers.

    I always loved the potential of EA's game face software. I've been disappointed that no other developer's have done something like this. It would be a terrific way to take photos of people (yourself, old players, etc) and accurately get their faces into the game. I've generally always had good luck with the tool and found it very user friendly.
    Hoping for:
    -New lighting engine
    -New grass/dirt textures (3d grass during all gameplay angles)
    -New uniform physics and options
    -DualSense control implementation to enhance the playing experience
    -Much improved loading times
    -No more “faux pas” animations like tagging through players.
    -Improved pickoff gameplay that actually requires skill, something like the popup catcher throwmeter during a steal.
    -new commentary crew, I know this ain’t happening but I keep putting it on the list haha.
    I actually liked Harold Reynolds in The Show 17 and it really brought some fresh air in the commentary department, too bad he was gone the following year.
    b22gamer
    SDS won't make any grand improvements. They are one of the laziest teams in gaming. There, I said it.*

    Hope getting that off your chest was worth it.
    Make playing defense fun! See Super Mega Baseball 3 as an example. MLB The Show takes too much out of the gamer’s hands.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    sportdan30
    Make playing defense fun! See Super Mega Baseball 3 as an example. MLB The Show takes too much out of the gamer’s hands.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    I have seen this post for going on 11 years since I started playing this series since 2009.
    If you want the photo realistic animations that have evolved over the course of this series you have to give up a certain amount of control to see what you see in real life.
    SMB is an arcade baseball game. MLB The Show is a series that IMO has been the best sports game actually trying to be a simulation on a console.
    So with that will come some level of loss of control. The same can be said of NBA 2K series which has killer realistic and life like player animations.
    This is exactly why I went to auto fielding and manual button throwing.
    I don’t disagree that manual fielding can sometimes be a tad clunky and not feeling like you have total control once the animation kicks in.
    I loved fielding on MVP 2005. But I actually prefer the beauty of The Show on auto fielding (and making all the throws by simply preloading them and watching the ratings play out).
    And most fans of this series would not want to see two steps back in realistic player movement animations for more control. Some will. But most won’t.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    Ideally more animations, including slides, dives, jumps, and in general just more athleticism.
    Lighting and everything is already fantastic. Make the players look more athletic in their movements. I would love to see 15-20 different animations for dives, jumps, and slides
    Sent from my SM-G970U using Operation Sports mobile app
    I think we see mostly small increases like people were saying by playing 20 on the PS5.
    I think this is a tough year for them to make any major changes across the board because of designing for the 4 and 5 along with the current world environment. Yes they are both just PCs essentially but different limits have to have some impact.
    Simply we don't know how much outside factors impacted the game.
    Personally I do not have a PS5 yet and will probably stick with 20 this year anyways.
    I think the real strides come in 2022 when they have more time under their belt and one release on the PS5 under their belt.
    Jr.
    I would love to see 15-20 different animations for dives, jumps, and slides
    Sent from my SM-G970U using Operation Sports mobile app

    I totally agree, there are so many animations in the game but I think we only have 2 jump animations and a few dives. Also slides could use some extra!
    The MVP series had the best diving controls; just push the R stick in the direction of the ball and the player would make the appropriate dive. In the Show you have to decide in a split second if you need/want to push the dive or the jump button and we all know the player will only jump straight up no matter where the ball is
    And yes I know there is an option to assign diving and jumping to one button but that has NEVER worked properly.
    b22gamer
    SDS won't make any grand improvements. They are one of the laziest teams in gaming. There, I said it.

    kehlis
    Hope getting that off your chest was worth it.

    yeah, there isn't any laziness or mailing it in from the Studio's side of things. rather it falls completely on Sony's part of undermanning and overworking a shorthanded staff. I'm hoping with other consoles eventually coming to the Show, the budget will increase exponentially and the Show will move up from what I consider a niche market and start pulling a share considerable to Madden FIFA and NBA2k
    Tough to pinpoint specifics since this game does so much extremely well. But i would love to see pitching animations take a leap. The way pitchers look when throwing the ball looks unnatural to me. It’s a very violent motion in real life, but the game’s pitching animations in this regard does not reflect that.
    SkeeLo15
    Tough to pinpoint specifics since this game does so much extremely well. But i would love to see pitching animations take a leap. The way pitchers look when throwing the ball looks unnatural to me. It’s a very violent motion in real life, but the game’s pitching animations in this regard does not reflect that.

    Yes, please! It looks like some of the older mo-caps are just lobbing in knuckleballs when it's 95+mph.
    I'd also like to see batting animations get refined. There's definitely an unnatural hitch when hitting or if the user selects different batting stances...the branch to get to the end result is just off.
    Speedy
    Yes, please! It looks like some of the older mo-caps are just lobbing in knuckleballs when it's 95+mph.
    I'd also like to see batting animations get refined. There's definitely an unnatural hitch when hitting or if the user selects different batting stances...the branch to get to the end result is just off.

    Totally agree. And to add to that, the catcher behind the plate when pitching from broadcast camera is very stiff and looks oversized compared to what you would see on tv. Not hating on the game at all, but these upgrades would make it close to perfect
    I'm hoping to see a little better texturization on player faces (especially for non-face scanned players). I'm really expecting night games to have a more spectacular look with Ray-Tracing and so on. Probably some better weather effects (would love to see some puddling of water in rain games).
    But this is the most important thing to me...keep it all at 60 FPS...

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