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MLB The Show 22 Commentary and Presentation Deep Dive

MLB The Show 22 Commentary and Presentation

MLB The Show 22

MLB The Show 22 Commentary and Presentation Deep Dive

This week the fourth Feature Premiere for MLB The Show 22 was focused on the all-new commentary team and updated presentation elements coming to the game. Yesterday we learned the new duo of Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Chris Singleton would be taking over for Matt Vasgersian and that crew in a rather large change for the franchise. Vasgersian’s tenure was tied with Kevin Harlan’s for the longest ever in a video game series (both took over for the ’06 versions of their respective games), so it’s a rather large shock to the system if you take that 16-year history into account. That said, it did feel like it was time for a change, and so all the commentators (so that also includes DeRosa, Whatney, and Plesac) have been removed in favor of this new duo.

MLB The Show 22 Commentary And Presentation

The Commentary Duo

Sciambi and Singleton have worked in real life for years doing the radio side of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, so the chemistry should be there going into things. SDS clearly wanted to leverage that by getting them into recordings together quite a bit to try and correct some of the criticisms that have been levied at that aspect of The Show over the years. After all, one of the big issues has not just been that Vasgersian has had new running mates every couple years, it was also clear they rarely recorded together and had no chance to bounce lines off each other either.

As for Boog and Singleton, Boog is more into the analytics side, and Singleton is a former player who can carry that side of things. The general mantra they seem to be going for is trying to bring the “real” to the video game, but also be able to teach baseball and create an environment that sells people on the sport itself as a byproduct of playing The Show. It’s a logical place to end up considering baseball is obviously trying to bring more young people into the sport, and a video game is one way to reach that audience.

Commentary Overhaul

SDS has been working towards this overhaul over three cycles. When you’re replacing 16 years of commentary (from Vasgersian at least), it’s just practical to try and ease into it over multiple seasons. Even if Vasgersian did not feel like he was getting tons of new commentary lines every year at this point, the idea of having to replace every single line (and then add lots of new ones so it’s not just the same problems with a new team) seems nearly impossible to pull off in just one cycle.

The numbers thrown around were 350 hours of recording time. Those hours were divvied up in various ways, but it was called out many of those recording sessions did take place with Boog and Singleton together. Overall, there is 45,000 new lines in the game, and so let’s discuss what seems to be making up all those hours.

Calls From Real Games

Without getting into the semantics of whether or not the 45,000 new lines includes the calls from real games or not, the point here is that SDS did grab real audio from Boog and Singleton broadcasts to add to the ones recorded specifically for The Show. This seemed to be something SDS used early on as a proof of concept for the new team, and also tied this together with just having Boog and Singleton call a game of The Show while watching it to see how they would work together and call the game.

It seems like from there, the developers had a better idea how to curate their ideas and help Boog and Singleton along for normal recording sessions. Another byproduct of grabbing the “live” audio from real games is that SDS hopes this adds more variety to the basic calls you’re going to hear many times per game — things like the count, a player reaching first base, etc.

Banter Moments

MLB The Show 22 Presentation

Tying back into an earlier point, because the commentators rarely seemed to be together for their recording sessions, banter was something that was nearly non-existent in prior Show games. Whether it was due to too few hours or not being in the same spot, the point is that now the crew is more conversational this time around.

Some examples were shown off, and it seems like the banter will be segmented in ways where they’re trying to squeeze it in between pitches and events so as not to stomp on the action itself. This seems like a smart play, and it’s a way to get the commentators being more conversational in a “realistic” way where they’ll chat about a player, stadium, or whatever in between mentioning the latest action on the field.

I would expect this stuff to still get repetitive for some folks at a certain point, but the point here will be another one of those proof of concepts in year one where hopefully it works well in a vacuum, and then SDS can just add depth to it in the years to come. My guess is this banter will mostly tie into “real” players and events more than dynamic stuff happening in your franchise or Road to the Show, which is probably where people will want more in the coming seasons.

Stitching Additions

Another way SDS is trying to make their content go farther this time around is through stitching enhancements. What this means is that basically SDS is combining lines together in ways where you don’t notice that they were recorded separately and then Frankenstein’d together to fit in more scenarios and add more variety. The stitches they showed off seemed natural enough with only a couple moments where the inflection changed enough to even set off my Spidey sense at all.

In general, SDS seems like they’re trying to modernize and catch up to some of the other games out there by incorporating more methods that other sports games use quite a bit.

Crowd Enhancements

MLB The Show 22 Crowd

It will be easier to get a feel for the general crowd improvements and audio mix in a non-stream environment, but part of adding to that improved mix of the commentary ties directly into the improvements to the crowd. The crowd AI has been improved, but beyond that, the mix itself has been refreshed. A mix refresh is not something that will be slapped on the back of the box, but when it’s off, it’s one of those things that brings down the experience — you just can’t always put your finger on why.

As for the crowd AI itself, The Show has certainly struggled with excitement and the nuance of certain at-bats, so seeing a crowd upset after a borderline strikeout call is a nice first impression. In general, there has just been a general lack of depth when it came to nuanced reactions to certain situations, so hopefully the crowd AI improvements in part just incorporate more situational reactions to tie into what’s happening in your game.

First Impressions Of The Commentators

I’ll touch more on the other presentation elements in a moment, but I do just want to give a couple quick first impressions after hearing more of Boog and Singleton today. The mix of the commentators and crowd sounds much better than before, and that’s a big thing to hit from the outset with a new team. The crowd and commentary did not always feel like they were mixed properly, so I hope to hear some moments where the commentary is fighting over an excited crowd more and so forth. On top of that, I could tell the lines from Vasgersian vs. DeRosa or whoever were not always recorded with the same quality. There was definitely times where certain lines would stick out simply because they sounded like they were from a different studio. Everything I’ve heard so far sounds like it was normalized and recorded in a consistent environment to make all the lines fit together with this new crew.

If I had an early criticism, the commentary does come off as being a little generic still at times so far. I did hear “this guy” more than once rather than a player name, and a ball that bounced off the Green Monster was called out as being hit “off the fence” in that situation. That said, when you start from zero (even if you’ve been working on something for multiple cycles), there is likely to be more leniency from fans in certain areas in year one.

On the strong side, I do really like the structure of their segmented banter so far. I love what NBA 2K does with extended banter because it feels natural and at home in the game even if it gets repetitive, but it does eat away at the normal calls of the basketball game — only really being interrupted by big moments like dunks or huge shots. Here, it does seem like the focus is really on breaking out the dialogue so you’re squeezing these extra flavor moments in between the moment to moment calls.

Mike Mussina Added

MLB The Show 22 Mike Mussina

Just real quick, Mike Mussina is another new legend coming to The Show. They showed off his signature setup, and so it’s cool to see Mussina back in the game.

Regional And National Broadcast Elements

MLB The Show 22 Regional Broadcast

The presentation focus seems to be on creating two new broadcast packages that are a more “regional” broadcast and then a more “national” broadcast. The focus was on the artwork and more team branding based on a “regional” theme, which means you’ll see more unique elements per MLB team for those graphics packages. In the picture above, you can see the Reds’ smokestacks, and that sort of thing will apply to all the MLB teams.

MLB The Show 22 National Broadcast

With the “national” broadcast theme, it looks like it will be “louder” and a little heavier on big-time graphics packages to really spruce up certain presentation elements for the big stage. SDS also specifically called out the World Series getting extra love for graphics packages and commentary to really add to the big stage. As an aside, it does seem like the MLB Network package (if it’s there) probably now takes a backseat to these two new packages. I’m sure some folks will be bummed about that since there’s always a sect of people who just want all the real broadcast packages ESPN/MLB Network/FOX, but it seems like the cost of acquiring those packages and making them work for their sports games makes most development teams back away from them.

Other Presentation Improvements

Overall, the score bug is doing a lot more this year. In the regional theme, you’re getting to see things like more signature lines that you might hear on those broadcasts after home runs, and then the national broadcast showcases more things like win expectancy (I’m sure that might be in the regional one as well).

MLB The Show 22 Ticker

The ticker is also getting love, which should be nice for franchise mode, Road to the Show, and March to October. The ticker is just one small thing that can add life to your franchise mode, but it’s an important thing to make things feel alive.

The last element here to mention relates to the new fan cameras. There are 150 cameras in total throughout all the stadiums. You’ll see unique spots from each stadium, and it looks like you have some element of control over them with the right stick. It was a little unclear to me if these just pop up during the game or you go into a separate menu to use them, but I imagine it’s probably something that pops up during the game that you can either mess with or just move past if you want.

Bottom Line

I thought gameplay had a solid showing last week, but the presentation and audio showcase here will likely be the biggest hit among fans so far. New stuff is always fun to see, and it seems like there’s plenty of new stuff here with the MLB The Show 22 commentary and presentation. Between this Feature Premiere and the end of the lockout, today was a good day for baseball fans.

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