With the current MLB season postponed indefinitely, baseball fans – myself included – are clamouring for any baseball-related experiences we can get our hands-on. We may not know when real baseball is coming back, but we’ve now got the perfect thing to tide us over until that glorious day is upon us with MLB The Show ’20.
MLB The Show ’20 from Sony San Diego has a tradition of providing the best baseball simulation on the market. I mean, they’re pretty much the ONLY simulation on the market, but you get what I mean. They created a great game out of the gate, and then year after year have made strides to improve every aspect of it. Graphics, gameplay…well, maybe not commentating, but there are always some exceptions to the rule.
This year’s version is no different. While the graphics are pretty much at their optimal level for this console cycle, the majority of improvements to this installment are to the feel and functionality of play. It’s already the best feeling baseball sim you can play, but any improvements are always welcome.
Hitting feels better than ever. A tweak to the line drive mechanic has made them harder to field, decreasing those frequent and frustrating liners that would go directly to the infielders for an out. There is now a hitting plate coverage indicator (PCI) called perfect/perfect in which, if your swing timing and plate coverage indicator placement on the pitch is correct, you’ll get the best hit possible. It’s a fun new mechanic that adds some variety to the hitting game. This mechanic is also available to fielders, allowing them to make great throws from the outfield, or snap that double-play grounder off in record time. You’ll also get instant feedback on all of your decisions. Look at a called strike? Plate vision decreases. Lay off a pitch that just misses the plate? Increase. These real-time updates to your stats make every play feel more important and immersive. You can even customize the look of your PCI to suit your needs.
For fielders, the new first-step system adds 3 new first-step animations, allowing your fielders to react more organically to pop-ups and liners based on their skill level. The throw meter is back, allowing you to attempt perfect throws by getting the needle into the green during plays. The skill gap has been increased in the field however, with lower-quality fielders having much smaller windows to make those perfect throws, adding realism to the teams and their skill dynamics.
One of the biggest updates this year is the roster selections. The game now includes fleshed-out minor league rosters that include over 1500 real-life prospects, all available across multiple modes including Road to the Show and Franchise mode. For those used to playing with randomly generated names and faces in the minors, this will be a welcome change.
RTTS is largely untouched this year, with the gameplay and behind-the-scenes stuff being mostly the same as last year. You can import your MLB ’19 save as always or take a new star through the minors to the majors, managing your stats, contracts, equipment – and in my case my sweet beard – along the way. If you’ve played last year’s version, you may want to import and continue from last year. If you’ve missed the last couple of versions of this game, it’s a great jumping-off point.
If you’re burnt out on Road to the Show mode, this year’s MLB The Show lets you take part in a new mode called March to October. This new mode lets you take part in important team moments throughout the season, building or lose team momentum as you march toward the playoffs and eventually (hopefully) the World Series. Teams have realistic expectations based on their skill level, so if you’re playing with the Yankees, you’re going to have high expectations placed on you to bring it all home, whereas if you’re playing as the Baltimore Orioles, you’re probably going to be happy just making the playoffs.
I’m not a huge fan of the other modes in this game including the Diamond Dynasty and Franchise modes, and they’re explained in lots of detail in other areas of the internet, so I’ll leave those for now.
MLB The Show ’20 is exactly what we expected, it looks great as always and has been updated just enough to make it feel new and fresh on the field. While it has been a Playstation exclusive for the entirety of its run so far, you’ll also be able to play it as early as next year cross-platform, which is great news for Xbox owners, and Switch/PC owners can (maybe?) hope for a version on their platforms as well, we’ll see what the coming year brings!
With real-life baseball off the table for the foreseeable future, there’s no better way to scratch that MLB itch than by playing MLB The Show ’20. Have you played it? Let us know what you think in the comments!
A copy of MLB The Show ’20 was supplied for review by Sony Interactive Entertainment Canada.