Review: MLB The Show 20 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: MLB The Show 20
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (49.71 GB)
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: San Diego Studio
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
MLB The Show 20 is the latest in the annual exclusive franchise, the fifteenth year a game titled “The Show” has been released by Sony. San Diego Studio once again has given us a game that looks great and plays authentically. The nature of the sport itself offers few opportunities to improve the product year to year, but there are a few tweaks that have been made that do just that.

The first change in gameplay happens during batting. There is now a mechanic where, if you have perfect timing and perfect contact, you can cause a “Perfect-Perfect” to occur. This will potentially increase your likelihood in hitting a home run, or at the least a hard line drive that may be a base hit, instead of an out if you were even the slightest bit off on either timing or contact. It’s possible to match that with the Plate Coverage Indicator to become a hitting machine if your skills are there. For me, with one or two exceptions, I just felt that I was making louder outs, but I don’t consider myself the best hitter, so I am sure others will get more out of this.

It wouldn’t seem fair if the only improvement happened in the batter’s box. The Show has also improved the reaction time of fielders, especially in the outfield. The better fielders have a noticeably quicker reaction to balls when CPU controlled, while the inverse happens when the defender is of a lesser ability. Other additions include the “Perfect Throw” indicator, which offers the player the chance to make the perfect throw to the plate to nail a runner trying to score.

There is also an “Extreme Catch” indicator, which simulates an outfield’s quick thinking and decision making skill on certain line drives. This shows as a red circle around the usual ball icon. You can either play it safe, make a spectacular catch, or make a complete fool out of yourself diving for the ball, just like in real life.

Moving on to the modes available in MLB The Show 20, Road to the Show (RTTS) is still as reliable as it has been for years. If you want to bring over your player from The Show 19, that is still as seamless as ever. Whether you do that, or start anew, a greater emphasis is placed on relationships this year. In addition to developing them in the clubhouse, you can affect them on the field as well. For example, a good play in the field may increase your relationship with the pitcher, or driving in a teammate will be good for your relationship with him. You can also smack talk with a rival player via text, which will affect your personality traits. The perks are personality trait-based, and add another layer to improving your player and getting hime to the big leagues as quickly as possible.


The in-game challenges return as well. This year, they offer the opportunity to choose based on which skill, cap, or personality trait you may want to work on at that time. Not a huge addition, but a subtle tweak with the goal of improving your player incrementally.

Franchise mode hasn’t changed much. One notable addition is the ability to customize your own team. San Diego Studio has added Diamond Dynasty’s logo creator, a team name editor, and team color editor. For the less creative player that still wants to give this a go (like me), you can go to the online vault and download created logos. As far as the gameplay of the mode, nothing really has changed. You can begin with a fantasy draft, or just jump right in and play GM. If you liked or didn’t like this mode in the past, not much here will change your mind either way.

Also affecting Franchise mode, as well as the other modes, is the expansion of the real life player pool to include Minor League players. This addition does add to the feel of being a real world general manager in Franchise mode. Also, it was cool to have my RTTS player on a team with guys whose names I am familiar with by following the minors.

Another mode where minor leaguers come into play was the March to October, which was added with last year’s iteration. During this mode, the goal is to go through one full season, but in bite-sized snippets. You gain and lose momentum by how you play in these situations, and that momentum affects the games that are simulated during this season. This year, more high leverage situations have been added to this mode, as well as trades and call-ups throughout the season. This mode isn’t very deep, and I am not much of a fan of it, but I can see its appeal to some who want to be able to get in and get out fairly quickly.

Visuals:
MLB The Show 20 is as stunning as ever. The details on the field, the lighting, the player models and animations, everything is of the highest quality. The only thing is, I think the annual nature of The Show, and other sports games, shows that we are ready to see what the next generation of consoles can give us in terms of graphical enhancements. I love what I’m getting here, don’t get me wrong, but I really can’t wait to play baseball on the PS5. San Diego Studio has certainly done everything they can on PS4.

The one thing I was initially surprised about was the lack of HDR. However, I went into the audio/visual settings area and found I could turn it on, as well as adjust game resolution. I don’t know if this option was available in prior years, as this is my first year with an HDR-enabled display, but I am surprised it wasn’t the default setting as it is in other games.

Audio:
The beauty of baseball’s on the field product shines through in the audio as well. The crowd noise is authentic, as well as the other sounds of the game. The coach yelling instructions or encouragement through my DualShock 4 while playing Road to the Show continues to add to the authenticity of the mode.

Where I have issues, and a lot of this is personal preference, is in the announcing. I do not care for Matt Vasgersian in real life, and that is just amplified in the virtual booth. Mark DeRosa and Dan Plesac add nothing to the broadcast, and it doesn’t seem like too much effort was put into adding to or varying the commentary. Your mileage may vary, but I am certainly glad I can turn the announcers down and just enjoy the game.

Online/Multiplayer:
Diamond Dynasty is the main focus of MLB The Show 20‘s online gaming. Back from previous years are modes such as Conquest, Moments, and Battle Royale, as well as Ranked Seasons. New for this year is Showdown, where you draft new players and perks each time you play, then proceed to play in small, scenario-based challenges, followed by a mini-boss challenge, more smaller challenges, and finally a big boss challenge. If successful at the smaller challenges, you can draft additional higher level players onto your team, replacing some of the lower tier players you start with.

Going through Showdowns successfully also gains you profile XP, as well as Stubs, which can be used in any mode or to buy packs at the store. The first Showdown is “free”, but additional Showdowns will cost you Stubs, so buyer beware. However, the Showdown mode is quite enjoyable and worth spending some of your hard-earned Stubs.

MLB The Show 20 has brought back online leagues, but not online Franchise mode. In Custom Leagues, you can set up a one year season with friends, and customize the league to your liking. You name the league and set up how many teams you want in the league, whether it will be relaxed or competitive, game length, how your playoff brackets will be set up, etc. You can play with the MLB live rosters the game provides, or with your Diamond Dynasty collection. At the time of the review, I was unable to test this mode, as I could not join a league to play in.

Conclusion:
MLB The Show 20 continues with the strong gameplay past iterations always provided. The on-field improvements are more of the subtle variety, rather than an overhaul, which in this case is for the best. We are at a point in time where there really isn’t much more that can be done to make any gameplay changes stand out. The visuals remain at a high level for this generation of consoles.

As far as the modes, Road to the Show is still as strong as always, and the relationship-based additions are fun. Showdown is a strong addition to the Diamond Dynasty online suite, and is probably where I will find myself spending the most of my non-RTTS time. Franchise mode and March to October really aren’t my thing, but I do see the appeal of these modes to others, and the changes to them are varying levels of positive. There is enough variety to how to play MLB The Show 20, and the bottom line is, San Diego Studio has once again made a great game.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by John Payant

John Payant

PlayStation Nation editor and writer. Been playing games for over forty years. Maybe someday I’ll actually be good.

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