MLB The Show 21 Review – Welcome to New Platforms

The MLB season is in full swing and MLB The Show 21 has been released upon the masses, including XBOX gamers. Is the game ready to step up to the plate, or should it be left in the dugout?

Read on to find out.

 

The MLB: The Show franchise has been around officially since 2006, but its roots go all the way back to 1998. Early in its run it had to compete against the MLB2K franchise, but since 2014 it has been the only console MLB game on the market. With developer San Diego Studios being a Sony partner, folks playing anything other than a PlayStation could only watch their friends play this awesome franchise. With MLB: The Show 21, XBOX player can now lace up their cleats, grab a rosin bag, or step into the batters box as the game has went multi-platform.

MLB: The Show 21 – Multi-platform and Crossplay

For those of us that are long time fans of MLB The Show 21, we may have taken the yearly release for granted, and never considered that other gamers might be left out in the cold with some sub par baseball game. That’s not the case this year for other console players as the game is readily available on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and the Xbox One X|S (it’s even free for Gamepass subscribers right now). Whats even more cool is the fact that as gamer, regardless of the platform you are playing on, you can play with anyone that is online and has the game, regardless of their console of choice. This introduces an entirely new group of gamers to The Show, and we gladly say welcome, console wars be damned.

 

MLB: The Show 21 – Tailored Gameplay

For those that are new to MLB: The Show 21, the game should be started in the beginner mode as this will walk you through all of the ins and outs of gameplay. Even seasoned veterans can benefit from some of the tips the mode will give you, as it can showcase new modes we haven’t seen before, like Pinpoint Pitching, which is a pretty nifty new pitching method. All of the playing options can be found in the Options Explorer mode, so jumping in there first is a must for just about everybody. The onboarding features will teach you how to use the different styles of hitting, pitching, fielding, base running, and defense. It’s the perfect place to learn how to master the mechanics of The Show.

MLB: The Show 21 – New Animations and Wall Interactions, Motion Capturing

Developer San Diego Studios is always looking to improve MLB The Show 21 and has spent even more time with players working with motion capturing to not only mimic their actual batter’s stance and swing, but also their fielding mechanics for wall jumps, diving, running, and razzamatazz (our word, not theirs) catches. Timing a wall jump to rob a home run is a cool feeling and the timing and set upb feature makes it a little more intuitive this year. It’s these little bells and whistles that sets the game apart every year and makes a new release feel better than the previous version. Some sports games are nothing more than a roster refresh, but developer SDS is always looking for ways to improve.

MLB: The Show 21 – The Road to the Show Can be a Long One

Thanks to the Japanese import Shohei Ohtani, two way players are now back in style. While he isn’t the first, and folks seem to forget Babe Ruth was actually a bad ass pitcher as well as a bad ass hitter, Ohtani has caused the MLB to create some rules as to how a two way player can be used. MLB The Show 20 added in some two way player features in last year’s game, but they took it much farther in MLB The Show 21 within the Road to the Show (RTTS) mode. They also gave the mode a more personal feel, but there is still some room for growth on that personal level. Once you’ve grinded your RTTS guy’s stats up, you can also use him in Diamond Dynasty mode, which also helps to improve his overall stats.

New to RTTS is a loadout and perk system which ultimately decides which position your guy is best suited for. You can have multiple load outs, which are then selected before each RTTS game, and each loadout should be specific to what your role in that next game is. Loadouts have a basis affinity, and then slots for two perks which should compliment that affinity. For pitchers you can choose to be a Painter like Greg Maddux, with a focus on control and location, or a Cheese fireballer like Nolan Ryan with a focus on velocity. Position players also have a few affinities to choose from and you can be a Slugger, a Speedster, or Slick Fielding. The position you desire needs to match up with your load out to maximize those stats, so that you can get that call up you so strongly desire.

MLB: The Show 21 – The Road to the Show Podcast

One of our favorite additions to MLB The Show 21 has to be the the Road to the Show Podcast. The show is hosted by Ben Gellman, a real minor league announcer (among other titles) and follows our RTTS guy from his drafting, all the way through his minor league career and eventual call up to the MLB. He has guests from all over the MLB with names like Mike Lowell, Jennie Finch (2 way softball player), Ken Griffey Jr., and Al Leiter to name just a few. Our guy even gets a few shout outs from Christoper Russo over at MLB Networks show High Heat. For those that haven’t made the leap to next gen and are still on the PS4 or Xbox One, the video podcast isn’t available for you and you’ll only get the audio version. While still a cool feature, not nearly as cool as seeing the folks on your big screen while playing on your PS5 or Xbox One X|S.

MLB: The Show 21 – Diamond Dynasty

MLB The Show 21‘s Diamond Dynasty mode is where most people will spend their time with the game. It is the ultimate trading card type of game, where you collect baseball cards, and use these cards to build your own team of players. The better the cards, the better your team becomes. Earning and unlocking better and better cards should be your main goal, and there are a bunch of ways to do that, starting with Conquest. This year there are three Conquest maps which will teach you how the mode works, and net you some quick rewards, so be sure to jump in there as soon as possible. other returning modes include Showdowns and Moments, and all will net you XP and Stubbs (in-game currency), which will help you build the best team possible.

Another new item for this year is that the more you use a specific card, the better that player can become based off of his Parallel Level. These levels go from Base up to V, and are unlocked by earning XP with that specific card. XP is earned by specific tasks for that player, and as he moves up the parallel rankings, he’ll get boosted stats to improve his overall numbers. Parallels are available for every card in the game and there’s nothing you have to do, other than playing with a guy, to unlock these levels. It’s an automated system that awards you for being successful with any given player. Pretty nifty.

MLB: The Show 21 – March to October with New AAA Fast Tracking

MLB The Show 21‘s March to October (MTO) mode also makes a return this year, and they added in Minor League fast tracking for real life minor league players. MTO is a mode where you’ll take a team of your choosing through an expedited season, while only playing key moments here and there, all the while also doing front office tasks like AAA call-ups and trades. While it is a full 162 game season, you’ll only have to play a small portion of the games, and usually just a few innings of each game. If you play well, you’ll gain momentum for your team and this momentum helps you win more games that are simulated, but if you play poorly, you may end up in the cellar. Some of these moments will involve your AAA affiliate and a top prospect in your team’s organization, and you’ll be player locked into that prospect for his next game at AAA. Do well and you’ll have the option of calling him up to the MLB. sadly that also means sending someone down, so there MLB dream might get crushed.

MLB: The Show 21 – Stadium Creator

Another new feature for MLB The Show 21, exclusively for next gen only, is the Stadium Creator. This mode will allow you to create a unique stadium. Starting options can be a blank slate, to an fully created stadium that just needs your unique touches. These stadiums can be used for online play, as long as you use some preset walls and dimensions for the playing field. Everything else is totally up to you. You can create some wacky dimension fields to play with friends, but you won’t be earning any XP for it. Stadium environments range from an island in a tropical paradise, to a snow capped mountain that looks really cold. You can start in the mid-west and build your own Field of Dreams, or try to recreate your favorite Sandlot from your childhood. You can also browse and download creations from other players all over the world, across either platform.

Developer San Diego Studios hits yet another home run with MLB The Show 21 and continues to add more bells and whistles to what is an always growing, always evolving franchise. The growing pains that come with new players are always obvious with the server issues early on, but SDS usually can get those ironed out pretty quick once they know how many folks will be consistently playing their title online.

 

9


MLB The Show 21 review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro and a PS5. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.