The baseball season is just beginning in the US, and as always, the annual start of MLB The Show follows close behind. The big novelty of this year, on the other hand, is that the game is also available for Xbox consoles, having been exclusively available on PlayStation for the 15 years of its existence.
Although baseball is a less influential sport in most European countries, its video games have become much more popular than the sport in recent years. A lot has to do with the presentation MLB The Show gave us, and MLB The Show 21 isn’t far behind in that regard. The leap from the previous generation of consoles to today is not as big as it was before, but it still looks great and features hundreds of new animations that keep bringing us new things.
Unlike many other sports games, San Diego Studios have brought new content to players every year and it’s been very well received. The amount of content available in these games is way above what franchisees are used to at FIFA and in recent years the Madden series. For us Europeans, they have focused even more on single / offline modes, which doesn’t make connection problems – worth the redundancy – a problem in performing some tasks. In the final episode, you had to do a few things online, with the risk of a delay with a player across the pond. Now you can accomplish most of the objectives in single player.
Much of the game is played in Diamond Dynasty mode, which is equivalent to EA’s Ultimate Team. The big difference between the two is that in MLB The Show 21, it’s a lot easier to build a good team without having to pay with real money. With a mountain of content to unlock cards, games, and challenges, you’ll have no problem building a competitive team without jumping into micropayments. And if you choose to go to a cash register, you can buy players right away instead of trying your luck. This is, and always has been, one of the franchise’s most popular features.
There aren’t many new game modes or additional features in this edition compared to last year, but one thing they added (for PlayStation and Xbox Series X / S only) is the new one Stadium creator. The ability to build your stadium from scratch makes the experience a lot more personal, and I’m sure that only the more design elements that will make this feature get better with it.
When it comes to gameplay, the biggest novelty is the introduction of the Precision throw. As the name suggests, this makes the casting much more precise as you now have much more precise control over your technique, although it does take some practice. The mechanics are similar to that of a 2K PGA, so you have to work extremely precisely with the analog stick in order to achieve a good pitch. Not that I’m a great baseball player, but based on my experience with the PGA, it was easy for me to quickly master this new ball throwing mechanic. If I could see the ball better while hitting it …
MLB The Show 21 is not stepping back from previous installments in the franchise, and even with some server issues with Early Access, things are looking fine for the game. Much of the gaming community fears that a patch will ruin it “as usual” on day one, but even with a few minor issues, this is hands down the best baseball game you will ever get your hands on. If you think about it being available on Xbox Game Pass from launch, there is no reason to give it a try if you have an account with that service. It may surprise you because even without being a baseball fan, this video game can put you under its spell.