MLB The Show 23: Diamond Dynasty Year in Review

Spring training is on the horizon, which means we’re ever closer to the release of MLB The Show 24. With MLB The Show 23’s content cycle pretty much finished, it’s easier to look at last year’s offering and focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly within Diamond Dynasty.

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We were treated to improved gameplay and a completely revamped Diamond Dynasty mode that led the community on a wild ride throughout the year. I think it’s safe to say this was the most tumultuous year from a content standpoint since MLB The Show 18’s Immortals.

Let’s talk about it.

MLB The Show 23: Diamond Dynasty Year In Review


The core component of MLB The Show’s online multiplayer suite, in my opinion, has always been the gameplay. Getting cards with insane attributes and beautiful card art is a blast. Opening packs and ripping massive diamonds is riveting. But at the end of the day, we’re using those cards on the virtual diamond and if the game isn’t fun and rewarding the shiny cards don’t really matter.

For the last couple years, gameplay has arguably been the most maligned aspect of Diamond Dynasty. Bad swings being rewarded with excessive bloop hits and changing the course of competitive games was cumbersome. Perfect input pitches with pinpoint pitching ending up as juicy meatballs down the middle that got crushed, changing the course of the game. Superman dives, excessive bunting being rewarded, and the overall imbalance of the hitting engine led to each recent release having their own respective sore spots.

Coming into MLB The Show 23, SDS stated that the hitting engine was reworked and that good swings were rewarded with hits more often while the bad swings were rewarded less often. In a nutshell, this has been the biggest request from a gameplay standpoint. No matter your skill level, watching your good swings end up as hard contact outs while your opponent blooped and bunted their way to big rallies was disheartening. I can cycle through all the superlatives but ultimately it just wasn’t fun. It’s hard to be fully engaged with a game that just doesn’t make sense.

This imbalance spawned the “that’s baseball” meme within the Diamond Dynasty community. You can watch practically any real Major League Baseball game and see this playing out. However, the argument was always that this is a video game and ranked is a competitive mode — skill should matter.

I’m happy to say that MLB The Show 23’s gameplay was quite good. The promised changes to the hitting engine were a very real thing that massively increased the enjoyment of the mode tenfold. Pitching wasn’t as overpowered as it was in MLB The Show 21, but ultimately that’s a good thing for everyone. My biggest gripe was hitting and SDS addressed it this year.

I normally end up dropping the game by the end of October because the game just isn’t as fun for me. I’ve drifted away from online play the last couple years because I’m fairly limited on time and repeatedly playing a game that’s frustratingly unrewarding isn’t a good use of time. That changed this year and I enjoyed my time online, even when I was on the losing end of a game.

Make no mistake, the game still isn’t perfect but it’s not fair to ever expect that. The gameplay was more consistent than it’s been, which led to the game feeling more rewarding. There were plenty of bad swings turning into hits and plenty of lineouts.

That’s baseball.

MLB The Show 23 actually played and felt like baseball more often than not.

mlb the show year to year saves

Sets And Seasons

Despite gameplay being heavily criticized the last few years, content was always king. No matter how frustrating gameplay was, SDS kept us coming back for more with cool card series and the best card art in all of sports gaming. It was easy to dream about SDS fixing gameplay and keeping content at an elite level.

Then came sets and seasons.

I wrote an in-depth piece analyzing sets and seasons over at ShowZone and ultimately feel that it was a fun change of pace. I personally enjoyed this change and feel that it can be a creative boost to Diamond Dynasty, I just don’t think SDS nailed it on the first go around.

The typical power-creep content style is how every team building mode in sports gaming operates. SDS went out on a huge limb and tried something new. No matter how you felt about content this year, I think SDS deserves a ton of respect for taking such a risk. These team building modes are the main source of income for development studios post-launch, so this wasn’t some minor alteration.

I enjoyed sets and seasons but ultimately content suffered from the same issue it faces every year: stagnation. Even the years where content felt more fun, Diamond Dynasty grinds to a halt since content releases come according to the same formula all year. By the end of summer, practically every new card was a 99 overall and it became a waiting game for your favorite players to get their best card of the year. With sets and seasons, we got 99 overalls starting with launch night and saw a ton of variety all year.

Sure, there were plenty of 99 overall cards that weren’t that special and a subset of those 99 overalls were truly elite. This did eliminate the element of team building since you were basically using the same cards, just with different names. Variety was exclusively the names — not the overall strength of your team.


Part of this underwhelming aspect with content fell at the feet of Captains. Introduced this year, Captains allowed actual theme teams to finally come to MLB The Show. However, Captains fell flat because they just weren’t done well.

By activating a Captain, you gained a boost to eligible cards across three tiers depending on how many cards you had that met certain criteria. As cool as this sounded, SDS stumbled when it came to releasing a healthy variety of Captains. I personally didn’t use a Captain all year because there just wasn’t an interesting mix. Plenty of Captains got released, but many had awkward team builds because they just weren’t that good. With sets and seasons, you couldn’t even slowly build a theme team of your favorite MLB team all year. Each season reset eligible ranked cards, which changed the configuration of your theme team.

Captains and sets and seasons conflicted with each other in a big way and it reduced the Captain feature to an afterthought for many. Seeing the full potential of theme teams now that all cards are eligible hopefully means SDS remedies this next year.

MLB The Show 24

It’ll be interesting to see what potential route SDS will take the content. Surely Captains should return and hopefully be reworked. There’s a ton of potential with the feature and many ways they could rework it. Maybe all cards, including commons, have built-in Captain powers based off the type of player they are. As the year goes on, more powerful Captains with unique traits could be released and really blow open the doors with creative possibilities.

Another part of Captains I disliked this year is how the Live Series collection rewards centered around Captains. Each team’s collection reward was a Captain that only boosted Live Series cards for that team. While that sounded potentially interesting, there wasn’t much incentive to use a boosted Live Series team when you could stack your lineup with 99 overalls.

One feature I’d love to see added that would benefit Captains: a specific theme team playlist. A ranked mode that required Captains and theme teams with exclusive Captain rewards would not only add a powerful element for Captains, but would add a much needed injection of exclusive rewards for online play.

On that note, it’s imperative that SDS fixes co-op for MLB The Show 24. For many of us, the mode was unplayable and every game I attempted to play ended in a freeze-off. With a year of troubleshooting, hopefully the mode plays smoother and more consistent.

I think we’re also ready for an overall revamp of ranked in general. A while ago, I proposed a new competitive ranked mode that was geared towards those of us who really want to sweat in online play. I still think adding a competitive ranked playlist would be a huge addition to Diamond Dynasty. Overall, we just need new ways to play.

Diamond Dynasty just feels stale. The game was more fun this year thanks to improved gameplay, but getting hit over the head with Conquest maps, Showdowns, and cumbersome offline grinds just to complete programs became a chore. A big win came from SDS adding online stat grinds for online players to complete programs without that offline grind, but we’re still basically playing the same game modes that we’ve always been playing.

A good start would be SDS taking a page from NBA 2K’s book with a Domination-style mode where we can play current Live Series MLB teams, all-time style theme teams, and best-of-all time teams with increasing difficulties and exclusive rewards. If we’re going to have theme teams at all, seeing those fully integrated into some kind of game mode would be excellent. Something creative for the online side of things would be a welcomed addition as well.

mlb the show 23 braves

Bottom Line

MLB The Show 23 was quite good as an overall package. Gameplay improvements were noticeable and made the game more rewarding than it’s probably ever been. Sets and seasons introduced a significant change to content that had ups and downs and ultimately left us wanting more. One of the most interesting details from the MLB The Show 24 pre-release hype period will be whether sets and seasons returns or not.

There’s been plenty of voices across the community wanting SDS to return to the traditional content style. I’d love to see sets and seasons improved and iterated on, but no matter what happens I cannot wait for MLB The Show 24.

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