Every year when March comes around, the thought of baseball coming back fills my head and heart. In recent years, I’ve gotten more baseball content than I can shake a stick at with both the real-life baseball season and MLB The Show. This year’s edition, MLB The Show 23, is no exception, with some welcome updates and brand-new content to whet the appetite.
Yearly sports titles are very hit-or-miss for me, after having played several the NHL series of games in the late 2000s and about 7 years in a row of the FIFA series as well. I ended up getting burnt out, especially with the NHL series, with the repetitive gameplay and lack of new content as the year went on. Although both the NHL & FIFA titles have gotten much better with their live content, I still couldn’t play them throughout the whole year of their relevance. MLB The Show 23 and its previous two titles have been very adept at keeping my attention for the whole year.
All of your favourite game modes make a return this year in MLB The Show 23, with one of my personal favourites being Challenge of the Week. I’m not nearly good enough to get close to the top prize that is available each week, but it’s a fun exercise to warm up my hitting when logging in each day.
“All the face customization that you’d expect in a game like Skyrim or Cyberpunk 2077 made its way into MLB The Show 23 and allowed me to make the character look a bit more like me in the end.”
Road to the Show has a brand-new feature this year: Face Scan—the ability to put yourself in the game. The process itself is extremely simple as well. All you need to do is download the companion app from your mobile device’s app store, link your account, and take a selfie using the app. From there, you can edit your hair, skin tone, and more in all the modes that utilize your created player. I absolutely loved this feature, in theory, since it would allow me to realize all my childhood dreams of seeing myself as a professional ball player.
In practice, however, I feel that the Face Scan needs some work. I must have taken and re-taken the scan of my face about 10 times, and they all came out looking exactly the same and, sadly, nothing like me. After deciding on the best-looking scan, I was then able to make a surprisingly large amount of edits to the entire head and face. All the face customization that you’d expect in a game like Skyrim or Cyberpunk 2077 made its way into MLB The Show 23 and allowed me to make the character look a bit more like me in the end.
“MLB The Show 23 and its previous two titles are very adept at keeping my attention for the whole year.”
Updates to the gameplay headline the updates to MLB The Show 23, with fielding taking the top spot. Most noticeably, players with higher fielding attributes (such as arm strength, range, etc.) will play considerably better than players with lower fielding attributes. When I first heard about this update, I was skeptical, to say the least, but I chucked a few evenly-rated, but with different abilities, players in my Diamond Dynasty team, and, to my surprise, there was a huge difference in their play in a game.
For instance, I put 90-rated WBC (World Baseball Classic) Tyler O’Neill in Center Field for a couple of games and then replaced him with WBC Yusuke Masago, who has a considerably higher Arm Accuracy stat and there was a noticeable difference in their ability to throw out runners consistently.
Speaking of World Baseball Classic content, Diamond Dynasty will benefit from over 100 different players to earn and use in their teams, as well as the team uniforms from all the teams involved in this year’s tournament. So, of course, I picked the Canada jerseys as soon as I possibly could and got that beautiful red rocking. All I need to do now is buy the Blue Jays Canada Day red jersey, and I’ll be all set!
One of the biggest additions in MLB The Show 23 this year is the inclusion of 8 of the biggest players from the Negro Leagues. Some of the biggest names in Baseball from the time, names like Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, and Jackie Robinson, headline the Storyline mode. Each player has their own storyline chronicling their career, formatted in chapters.
The chapters have a short video clip prior to the gameplay, hosted by the incredible Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. These trips into the history books are easily the best part of the game for me, as it was a great opportunity to learn more about the game from a point of view I’d never seen before. Some of the best players to ever play the game played in the Negro Leagues, and I am all too happy to see the story of these players.
Some of these players will likely stay in my teams for the entire year, especially Martin Dihigo, who can play literally every position on the field. Being able to earn high-rated players like this so early in the game makes it easy to come back day after day to play.
“In my time playing, I noticed a significant change in MLB The Show 23’s hitting model.”
Diamond Dynasty, by far my most played format, received an update in the form of Player Captains. These captains, players like David Ortiz and Gerrit Cole, provide boosts in performance when used in tandem with other players of the same set (Gerrit Cole, for example, is part of the All-Star set of cards). In addition, the DH rule is now in effect in Diamond Dynasty. Gone are the days of having to hit with my pitcher, which means I can have top hitters and fielders top to bottom in my lineup.
Rounding things out is Franchise Mode. This year sees some notable changes, including the full implementation of what’s called “The Ohtani Rule.” The Ohtani Rule allows a player to be both the Designated Hitter and Pitcher in the same game, provided that the pitcher has secondary positions in the field, as Shohei Ohtani does. I love having the ability to field two-way players in my team since it allows for a much more interesting roster selection and has the potential to free up a roster spot for another player.
In my time playing, I noticed a significant change in MLB The Show 23’s hitting model. In last year’s game, I was very comfortable using the Timing hitting style, but I just cannot get it to work for me this year. I ended up having to go back to Directional. In addition, hitting, in general, feels like it is far more balanced when compared to last year’s game. It appears that the days of hitting homerun after homerun are gone. In short, hitting feels far more realistic, and I am very excited to work on being a better hitter with more practice.
It’s sometimes hard to get invested in a yearly release title. You put so much work into getting your team exactly how you want it, and then the new title comes out shortly thereafter. The reason I keep coming back to The Show is that the road to my dream team is worth the effort it takes to complete it.
MLB The Show 23 is no exception. It knows what it does well and does that extremely well. There are games that I play when I just want to decompress and enjoy myself, and this is one of them. Fans of baseball and sports game enthusiasts alike will find something to enjoy with this title, and I will be playing it as much as I can.