Hands-on With New MLB The Show 19 Features

Late last month, it became Opening Day for fans of MLB The Show, with the new installment of MLB The Show 19. Since then, players have been able to enjoy playing as their favorite team, under the bright lights of America’s Pastime. Just like Major League Baseball is constantly thinking of ways of modernizing the sport of Baseball, so too is SIE San Diego Studio with MLB The Show 19.  

Recently, Sony invited me to attend a showcase of their upcoming Playstation Exclusive games lineup, and featured amongst some of the yet-to-be-released titles were new game modes coming to MLB The Show 19. While it may seem strange to say about game that’s already released, the upcoming adjustments are game-changing…

Before I experienced some of the upcoming game modes, Community Manager and Game Developer of MLB The Show, Ramone Russell, explained how the SIE San Diego Studio team has been trying to go beyond playing just the standard 162-game season in MLB The Show 19. What is something they could do to allow players to speed up the experience, while giving the player a memorable playthrough?  They came up with a couple of things.

First and foremost, they decided to tap into baseball’s rich history and give players the opportunity to play Moments. In Moments, you go back in time to relive some of baseball’s most iconic plays by putting you in the shoes of legends to accomplish incredible feats. Nothing is guaranteed, however, and you could change history by failing…Just like I did with Willie Mays!  

Each “Moment” starts by setting the stage; telling you the history behind this iconic moment and explaining its significance. In this way, you’re invested in completing the challenge. In the moment I played through, I took on the role of Willie Mays, back when he was a New York Met. My only objective was to hit a home run. Instead, I hit a ton of line drives and pop-ups.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t do the legend proud. Even so it’s a fast, exciting challenge to undertake and they have plenty more incoming (e.g. like channeling your inner Ken Griffey Jr. by hitting back-to-back home runs). Those aren’t the only moments being regularly updated for MLB The Show 19, though. The San Diego Studio is keeping a keen eye on the 2019 MLB season in order to find major accomplishments for players to recreate with the Topps Now Moments.  

One of the most fascinating additions to MLB The Show 19, stems from a new game mode that could have a major impact on the way we play sports games with long seasons. It’s called March to October and it speeds up the game of baseball like never before. The idea here is to expedite the 162-game season without penalizing the player for simming a few games.  By simming a game, players will simulate the outcome of a game, without actually playing the game in its entirety, in order to save time.

Nowadays, most sports games allow you to sim games for one reason or another.  However, often times you lose players to injury or you simply lose the game, so the developers behind MLB The Show 19 made March to October as a way to blend the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to sim games at no consequence…except for the one you create.

March to October starts by giving the player an option of 4 different categories, each with a team attached to it: “Favorites, Contenders, Underdogs, and Longshots”. The reason for each team being in  their specific category is based on what that team’s outlook was going into the 2019 season. So, if you’re a Boston Red Sox fan or a Houston Astros fan (like myself), you’ll find your team under Favorites. On the flip side, if you’re a Texas Rangers fan or a Miami Marlins fan, you could find your team under the Longshots category.

Once you choose your team, you then choose your difficulty. The higher the difficulty, the bigger the rewards. Once that’s selected, it’ll spawn a cutscene which will detail the history of your club of choice and what their outlook is for their season; and then, it’s time to get into the game.  However, you’re not playing all 9 innings. Instead, you start in the 6th inning and finish the game from there.

If you win the game, you earn momentum and then the game sims, meaning a victory in one match makes it likely that you’ll win the next few games in the season. Whereas a loss means you could find yourself in a Cold Streak and receive more L’s in the W-L column. The bigger the point spread, the better or worse your season can get.

Surprisingly, Russell explained how the entire season can be played in about four sittings, meaning you could find yourself in the World Series in a couple of days. That stat alone is mind-boggling. Regardless of wins or losses, though, whatever happens in March to October doesn’t progress to the 2020 season, as it’s dedicated ONLY to the 2019 season.  Once you complete the season, however, you have the option of taking that team into the traditional 162-game franchise mode or simply starting over with a new team.

The March to October game mode is a really fascinating idea. If players enjoy the mode enough it could become a mainstay in MLB The Show going forward, and who knows we could see other sports games adopt it, in the future.

MLB The Show 19 is available now only on Playstation 4.