The MLB The Show franchise was once in a tough position, after a couple of consecutively bad titles resulted in the fanbase wondering whether the series was headed in a downward spiral. Instead, though, the series bounced back, with the last two or three titles resulting in some big changes for the series and being generally received very positively. The jump to current-gen systems last year was especially well received, and saw some much-needed improvements to the series overall.
With baseball heading into a new year, MLB The Show 22 continues its upward trajectory, offering some slow, incremental changes to the game that fans are sure to love. While there may not be any major changes like in past entries, MLB The Show 22 represents another solid effort, and the result continues to be one of the best baseball simulations available.
Bottom line: MLB The Show 22 continues to improve in small, key ways, and with major changes to some of the biggest modes in the game, it's another great entry in the series.
- True-to-life simulation of baseball
- Improvements to Diamond Dynasty
- Slight improvements to Road to the Show make for more fun
- Core modes could use more tweaks
- Bugs and other glitches remain from previous year
MLB The Show 22: What you'll love
|Title||MLB The Show 22|
|Developer||San Diego Studio|
|Publisher||Sony Interactive Entertainment|
|Xbox version||Xbox Series X|
|Play time||20+ hours|
|Players||Singleplayer, local/online multiplayer|
|Launch price||Available on Xbox Game Pass (Console only)|
The sports game genre is one that is constantly criticized for its lack of originality, and no real sport is mocked more for its monotony than baseball. Despite that, developer San Diego Studio has continued to take positive steps forward when it comes to the MLB The Show franchise, and this year's entry is no different.
Much like other sports titles in the modern age, the first thing you'll notice is just how incredible the game looks when compared to the real thing. Everything in MLB The Show, from the way certain fields cast shadows, right down to the commentary teams and logos used throughout the game are incredibly detailed, especially on a current-gen system like the Xbox Series X. MLB The Show 22 even does a great job mimicking the television broadcasts of real-life baseball, with pauses in the game happening in between pitches to simulate the feel of waiting as a big at-bat plays out.
Gameplay in MLB The Show 22 doesn't deviate much from the standard that players are used to. Similar to past years, there are a variety of ways for players to experience the game, with three different gameplay styles and the return of pinpoint pitching from MLB The Show 21, which tasks players with having to match the route of the pitch with their analog stick, with the accuracy and break of the pitch determined by how well you draw the pitch out. The new ways to locate and field a ball from last year have also returned, and outfield animations as a whole have been improved, adding for a much better experience in the field.
Aside from gameplay tweaks, the usual batch of new animations have been added into MLB the Show 22, and while that might not sound exactly like an incredible addition to a game, it is for a sports title. For fans of the sport, the way players move, run the bases, and even react to a hit are all very notable things and factor into why people enjoy watching baseball in the first place. MLB The Show 22 does a better job of that this time around, with subtle tweaks to things like batters' movements right after a hit adding a deeper level of realism into the game.
Minor improvements aside, things are about the same in terms of game modes and what can be found in The Show 22. No big, real changes to the core game modes are found, although perhaps the biggest changes come in an effort to seemingly de-microtransaction one of the game's most successful and popular modes.
A change to certain game modes
For years, MLB The Show has had a game mode called Diamond Dynasty, which acts essentially the same as Madden and FIFA's Ultimate Team and NBA 2K's MyTeam. Players collect cards to build a fantasy-esque lineup of their favorite players, and compete with them in various challenges, event games, and against other players should they choose.
At its heart, these modes are fun chances for players to collect cards and experience fantasy sports in a slightly more real way. Unfortunately, most game modes like these are often used as ways to essentially get even more money out of players via the use of microtransactions to purchase in-game currency to buy better and, oftentimes rarer, cards. While MLB The Show's Diamond Dynasty has always been the more "user-friendly" version of these modes, this year takes it to an entirely different level.
One of the key mantras for The Show 22's Diamond Dynasty turn was "Grind to 99," which essentially boils down to the team allowing players to grind through various modes and earn cards without paying real-life money. As far as "ultimate team" game modes go, Diamond Dynasty's switch to a more free-to-play centric game mode has been a smashing success so far. A heavier focus on singleplayer content was added into the mode, including the new Mini Seasons, which allows players to play through 20, low-inning games with their team and unlock more rewards along the way.
Of course, Diamond Dynasty still has its areas where microtransactions would help. New "Chase Packs" that contain rarer cards are guaranteed to appear in the most expensive bundles of cards in the game, and Diamond Dynasty's "programs" — essentially month-long season passes that allow players to get special cards — have been tweaked to make it a bit harder to earn every possible high-end card. Despite that, though, the mode has never been more fun, and now offers an incredible balance between those looking to simply enjoy the game in a truly free-to-play setting, while still having enough expensive content for the very rare few that are fine with spending money.
Elsewhere in The Show 22, the only other game modes to include more substantial improvements was March to October. The mode was initially introduced two years ago, and gives players the chance to play through key moments of a full, 162-game MLB season as their favorite team. Along the way, players can act as general managers of the team, trading players and tweaking the lineup to make sure your path to the end of the season, and the playoffs, are solid enough.
While the original mode was a one-and-done type of thing in years past, players can now keep things going through the offseason. After winning or losing in the playoffs, you can go through the ability to call up minor league players who have improved and developed, get into even more trades, and set yourself up for another big run to October in the next year.
MLB The Show 22: What's not so great
While MLB The Show 22 is an all-around success, there are still some things that could be better about the game. For the second year in a row now, the same style of bugs and glitches have appeared in the game, including some painfully annoying moments in the game where fielders will simply stop moving under a fly ball, or players will not react to hits the right way.
Other minor annoyances present themselves in the game, including online play, which received a surprising downgrade from years past. The inclusion and enhancement of co-op play online is extremely fun, but head-to-head matches, at least in my own experience, have been inconsistent in terms of stability and connectivity issues.
Elsewhere, and perhaps the most glaring problem with the game, is that there is little to no real improvements when it comes to some of the core game modes in MLB The Show. Much like Madden's woes with its Franchise Mode, the Franchise Mode found in MLB The Show 22 is also painfully lacking in real, meaningful year-to-year updates. While it may not be one of the more popular or flashy modes, it still is a key mode to the game, and something that a core group of players hopes gets addressed when it comes to future iterations.
MLB The Show 22: Should you play it?
At the end of the day, there isn't too much "new" to be found in MLB The Show 22, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. After two years of constant, big improvements, the baseball franchise is at a place where it's in the upper echelon of sports titles that exist today. Not only is it one of the only baseball simulations available to play, but it's far and away the best and most authentic baseball game to date.
That being said, there is always room for improvement, and MLB The Show 22 does suffer from just enough issues that keep it from truly reaching the highest highs. With another year of next-generation development, however, the sky is the limit for where the MLB The Show series could be headed.
MLB The Show 22 retails for $70 ($60 on last-gen consoles) and is available on PC, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
Anthony Nash has been writing about games and the gaming industry for nearly a decade. When he’s not writing about games, he’s usually playing them. You can find him on Twitter talking about games or sports at @_anthonynash.
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