The 2019 Major League Baseball season is officially underway. As all of our favorite teams dish it out in their first week, we’re able to pass the time in between matches with MLB the Show 19. Sony’s newest baseball exclusive has a lot on its plate. The promise since day one has been all about how this entry is bringing many changes in its wake.
So, strap on your cleats and grab your glove because it’s baseball season baby! With new modes, new features, and of course new players, MLB the Show 19 is indeed bringing a lot with it. But how exactly does it hold up to previous entries, and is it truly worth dropping another $60 so soon after MLB the Show 18?
The Show is Back
Road to the Show is MLB the Show’s signature single player experience. You create your own player, and decide everything from their position, to their place of origin. You start off in the Showcase, a place for college prospects to show off what they have to MLB scouts.
From there you either spend a year playing college ball or start your way in the minors. You have more control than ever when it comes to what team drafts you. You’re able to either pick the exact team, the division, the league, or leave it completely up to fate.
This is great for a lot of reasons. Not all players are going to be interested in every team, or want to spend a few in game seasons trying to get to their favorite team. This gives every player a way to play.
The gameplay isn’t much different than previous entries. There’s some mechanical adjustments, such as improved camera angles. Overall however, its mostly the same.
Where it does differ is off the field gameplay. With improved and added RPG features, MLB the Show 19 is far more personal than ever. With more training options and more significance to them, it manages to add an extra layer of depth to each player’s personal story. Instead of spending points to upgrade the exact stats you want like in some previous games, you have to improve on your stats by playing. That or by choosing training exercises that improve the stats you want. There are also level caps that prevent your stats rising infinitely. You’ll have to train or complete challenges to raise them.
Challenges come in many forms. Some plate appearances will leave you with the choice between three different challenges. They vary in difficulty and rewards. Not only that, but when training with your teammates you’ll be given a challenge by them. This training is super important. It raises your stats, improves your relationship with teammates, and levels up your personality.
The game features a few personality traits. The first is your play style. You get to choose what kind of player you are. If you want to be a power house or a utility man, the options are there. The second way is what kind of person you want to be. You can choose between being the Captain, the Heart and Soul, the Maverick, or the Lighting Rod. The game fortunately doesn’t limit you to just one. But working on your relationships with other players is important. It will level up your personalities which will grant you new passive skills.
Potholes in the Road
The Road to the Show isn’t perfect. While it is certainly better than ever, there are some missed opportunities.
There aren’t fielding challenges per game like there are batting ones. This is just an extra feature that could have spiced up field game play some, which is often needed.
Another smaller detail that is rather annoying is how the games play out. Every series your settings are reset. You have three options of how to experience your games. You can watch from the box. It basically is just a picture of the field that quickly goes through and simulates all the plays. This is the default option. Or, after the game has started, during some cutscenes you can change it so that it simulates to your appearances, or you can watch the whole game. I like to simulate to my appearances. But, you have to choose your option again every new series. And again it only seems to appear during certain animations. It’s annoying, and makes it a bit jarring.
Along with that, always having to return to your club house after a series just to start another series sucks. It creates twice as many loading screens, which takes you out of your groove.
The game promised a more important role of your agent. Which isn’t really the case. Two years into the game and my agent had contacted me a handful of times, and never did anything. It improves in your free agent years, but it takes a long time to get there.
I wish training and socializing occurred more often. You are only able to do one event per day off. So that’s two or three times a month that you’re able to do something other than play ball.
The clubhouse user interface isn’t much different than normal. But the Social section is hidden. I much prefer the days of old when your phone is shown on the side of the main screen. It allowed you to see what fans and players were saying without having to hunt for it. It was a small feature that I really appreciated.
Franchise of the Future
That’s right, Franchise mode is back once again. This mode allows you to simultaneously take the reigns as General Manager, Coach, and player. You control everything about your team. Trades, deadlines, draft, rosters, you can even play as your entire team in games or use quick counts, or decide each move a player makes as manager.
This mode doesn’t just limit you to one team either. You can control multiple teams at once. So, this mode becomes one of the most strategic budget battles in video game history. You’re having to tackle so many aspects of the MLB world that it can feel overwhelming until you get the hang of it.
The best part of this mode is that no matter what kind of game play you’re in the mood for, this offers it. Want to play as one person or the whole team? Or just manage? Play with a couple of friends? Or just simulate and coach? Plus it features throw back modes such as Retro mode that add some nostalgia into the mix as well. There’s a little bit of everything for everybody, and you can choose how in-depth with it as you want. So, more casual baseball or sports game fans can still find a fulfilling experience in Franchise.
Diamond Dynasty is also back. This mode allows you to build your own franchise using basically any name in all of baseball. It has various types of modes within it from online matches, to conquest.
Conquest is a great addition to the franchise. It puts you on a map competing with parts of or the entire MLB. You compete for popularity by beating each other and taking territory. The more fans you have the better the odds that you beat your opponent. It reminds me a lot of the board game Risk. But instead of a boring old war game, its America’s favorite past time.
There’s also a Battle Royale mode where you draft a team from scratch with players throughout MLB history. You then compete against others online to make it as high on the leader boards as you can. Not quite your typical “battle royale” but a very enjoyable and unique mode for a baseball game. The atmosphere is high stakes and stressful, so those looking for a challenge and risks, will enjoy this.
Events are similar. You build a team but with certain restrictions applied. You then have to strategically complete various goals to rack up points. The better you do, the better the rewards.
The online itself isn’t changed much either. It’s hard to create a completely new experience with this type of game. Fortunately, they do successfully shake up the game’s formula with the new modes. Returning players will be given some new experiences, in a familiar way.
The leveling system did get some improvements as well. With XP paths you’re able to get rewards more fitting for your tastes. The game allows you to select your favorite teams. The teams you choose help make up the reward pool. You’ll get items that are more directly related to the team. Which is great. I’m a Chicago Cubs fan, I don’t know who the back up catcher of the Marlins is and I don’t want him on my team.
March to October
The March to October is another new mode in MLB the Show 19. This mode allows you to pick a team, and runs you through their season.
The twist is that this mode is pretty fast paced. You only play your teams major moments. This ranges from one out, to a play off series. So, you get to alter history and see how it could have played out if these small moments went differently.
There are different difficulties. If there weren’t, then it wouldn’t make too much sense. Obviously getting to the post season as the 2018 Boston Red Sox will be far easier than doing so as the 2018 Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles had less games won last season than Khris Davis had home runs.
Overall, this game mode is well done. It invokes a sense of faster game play into the franchise, with a unique twist on the history of the game. Hopefully this mode makes its way into future games. As you can add a whole new set of team stories every year and never have them be the same.
Moments that Matter
Moments is another new mode. This one is similar to March to October but on a smaller more historical scale. It puts you in the shoes of a player about to make a history breaking play or mile stone.
It ranges in the amount of innings again. Anything from Kerry Wood’s 20th strike out to tie the MLB record for most strike outs in a single game to the Chicago Cubs’ history shattering seven game 2016 World Series.
The game sets exact goals you need to meet to continue. So, if you fail to meet them, you have to start over. No history changing here like in the March to October. This is all about reliving history. In one of the most fun, and personal ways yet.
Mini Mode Mayhem
There are a few mini modes included in the game. These are fast paced styles of play. The Mini modes included are:
- Challenge of the Week
- Retro Mode
- Home Run Derby
All of this add a little bit of diversity and offer some freedom to the player. Not everyone is going to want to play an entire season of ball to complete a World Series run. So, Postseason works to fill that void. It will allow you yo build your own world series bracket. Want to see if the 2018 Baltimore Orioles can beat the 2018 Red Sox in the World Series? Now you can!
Weekly challenges add a consistent flow of content that tests peoples might. Challenge modes are a consistent feature throughout most areas of MLB the Show 19.
Retro mode puts the general aesthetics and camera angles back in the classic era of MLB the Show. The longer of the mini modes, but still a worthwhile one for those seeking a stroll down memory lane.
Home Run Derby lets you compete with up to eight friends or AI in, you guessed it, the All Star Home Run Derby. You can format the players in it however you want, and see who is the true home run king.
General Multiplayer Action
MLB the Show 19 offers many different ways to play with others. From couch co-op, local play, and online multiplayer.
The Multiplayer isn’t much different from the standard single player experience except you don’t have control over the difficulty. Since you’re facing other people, rather than just AI.
So, people searching for a greater challenge where the teams are still capable of making grave errors for you to capitalize on, multiplayer is where to go. The general difficulty with be tougher, but since you’re versing another human, they will be more prone to mistakes.
This just helps the game feel a little more authentic. While the AIs are very intelligent, they still feel like AI. Since any mistakes they make are still technically programmed to happen with a variety of algorithms.
I do absolutely love that the game has an online market place. Your rewards and players are technically baseball cards that come in baseball packs. This market place adds a Card Collecting side to the game. This resonates with the baseball card collecting child deep inside me. It’s just a nice touch that fits the baseball theme very well.
When I play MLB the Show, I don’t play it for the multiplayer. It’s more of a bonus that I’ll play occasionally when I need a break from the other modes. But, if multiplayer is what you’re looking for, then know that MLB the Show 19 has a fulfilling experience for you.
Bringing the Show to Life
At the end of the day, MLB the Show 19 is still a sports game. The graphics are no where near on par with other AAA games on the market.
Since a new game releases every year, they only get minor graphical updates. The developers instead use mostly the same engines to make games for a few years. Which is understandable. This is just a sports game. Every person in the crowd doesn’t need to be in full detail. They just need to be passable as humans.
Then there are also players based on actual players, and then there are randomly generated characters. You can tell the difference very easily. Which, again makes sense.
As there is a frame of reference for the actual players, and there’s only so many detail variations they can create for customized characters. The developers won’t be putting in a thousand different hair styles. That’s just rather unrealistic. For any game, not just a sports game.
Otherwise, the game only has some minor issues. While all the stadiums look great both outside and in, the foul lines look very ragged when you’re in the infield. It looks like there’s a bunch of slightly separated white plates running down the line, instead of just a line.
Some animations are also rough. For example, when a player breaks their bat and gets out without throwing it, it shows them walking away from home plate while holding the bat by the barrel. But the bat no longer has a barrel since it broke in half. So, they’re just holding it by thin air. There are some other instances like this with certain glove animations and other bat animations as well.
Generally though, the game does what it needs to. Which is what’s truly important. Conveying the material in a quality yet appropriate way.
The Crowd Goes Wild
MLB the Show 19 manages to have a fun, but hype building soundtrack as always. With a variety of rap and hip hop tracks included, the game will keep your blood pumping as you’re going through the menus.
Even the music you hear faintly when the broadcasters are speaking is very fitting of a baseball game. Much of it I swear I’ve actually heard played at Wrigley.
Unfortunately, there are some issues with the broadcasters. A lot of the footage is their equivalent of stock footage. Which means they’ve used these exact lines for a few games now. When these lines are already repeating on a regular basis in game, the fact that you’ve already heard them all a thousand times before between the last two or three games is rough.
On top of that, a lot of what they say is inaccurate as well. I was in my fifth or sixth game in the Majors for the regular season when they stated it was my MLB debut. I even started all the other games. And it happened multiple times in one season. So, for my fifth and sixth game they stated it was my debut both times.
This isn’t anything major, but it is rather annoying. Because it isn’t even the only time it happens. They consistently get players stats, what rank they are in the league for various stats, and similar factoids wrong.
MLB the Show 19 is without a doubt the best the series has ever been. With more modes, options, and freedom than ever it truly gives the player a feeling of immersion rarely felt in a sports game. While the improvements over last years entry are generally minor outside of added modes, this game is still worth it. I would rather spend $60 on this game than any previous entries.
Want to see some more reviews? Then head on over to OpenCritic for all your heart’s desires!
- THE GOOD
- Fast paced
- Player freedom
- Great new modes
- Better than ever
- THE BAD
- Minor technical issues
- Some animation issues
- Few dialogue inaccuracies
MLB the Show 19 is a blast. It is the greatest baseball game ever made. While it does have some minor issues, nothing is problematic enough to warrant major action.
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I’ve been involved with the world of video games since I was able to sit in my dad’s lap and watch him. Not long after that I started playing myself, and it’s been a naturally growing passion ever since.