MLB The Show 23 review: Storylines is a grand slam
MLB The Show 23 pays homage to baseball legends while putting a spotlight on the sport’s next generation in an annual sports title that exceeds expectations, despite not making any remarkable gameplay innovations.
Nothing quite compares to hearing the first crisp crack of a bat or the pop of a glove as a runner is thrown out at first base on the opening day of a new baseball season. San Diego Studio went above and beyond in capturing an authentic feel of being at a major league ballpark.
MLB The Show 23 finally adds a DH, the ability to use a two-way player, and overhauled fielding and throwing. However, the true highlight of this year’s entry is Storylines, which educates players on the sport’s earliest pioneers.
MLB The Show 23 — Key Details
- Price: $69.99
- Developer: San Diego Studio
- Release Date: March 28
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
MLB The Show 23 trailer
Storylines: Shining light on baseball’s heroes of the past
In 1920 seven Negro Leagues formed in the wake of African American players being excluded from professional baseball in the United States.
Storylines, a new interactive game mode, utilizes educational videos and gameplay moments, giving fans a unique history lesson on eight icons that left an imprint on baseball worth remembering.
The game mode features authentic stadiums, jerseys, player models, fans, and more. It was an absolute joy playing through Storylines and learning about the stories of Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil, and five other Negro Leagues legends.
Bob Kendrick, Negro Leagues Museum President, narrated each Storylines episode, and you could genuinely feel the passion put into this project. Luckily it is only the first of several seasons. San Diego Studio plans on introducing a new set of Negro Leagues players every year as part of an ongoing narrative – so keep an eye out for that.
Diamond Dynasty: A true test of decision making
MLB The Show 23 took a huge gamble by reinventing Diamond Dynasty, but it has the potential to set a new precedent. Instead of waiting until August for the game mode’s best cards, San Diego Studio did away with the traditional power-creep formula and added 99 overall player items starting on day one.
Sets and Seasons cycle out cards to counteract the experience becoming stale, with everyone having high overall cards, forcing players to build new teams eventually.
Team Affinity finally makes building theme teams a reality. If you want to build a full Kansas City Royals squad in MLB The Show 23, the introduction of Captains makes it viable. For example, Tigers captain Miguel Cabrera boosts other Tigers players, and the more Detroit players you use, the larger the boost. Each squad can use one hitter and one pitcher captain.
A revamped Mini Seasons and Ranked co-op cap off an impressive list of additions for Diamond Dynasty.
And best of all, The Show prides itself on not forcing players to pull out their wallets to build a strong team. 99 cards can be earned by just playing the game naturally.
Franchise: Discovering a diamond in the rough
SDS primarily focused on amateur scouting innovations in Franchise mode for better and slightly worse. The days of drafting 26-year-olds are finally over, as a new and improved draft system creates a realistic pool of prospects.
Scouting also received a touch-up, adding fog of war, a fun risk and reward feature. Nothing is ever 100% certain when it comes to recruiting a prospect, meaning you could draft baseball’s next superstar or a player that never even makes an opening day roster.
Franchise mode also adds MLB’s new postseason format, expanding the playoff pool from 10 to 12 teams.
John ‘Boog’ Sciambi and Chris Singleton return for their second year in the Show commentary booth. The duo pair nicely and sound more natural in conversation than during the first go around, but building up an extensive audio library will still take time.
Scouting and drafting players desperately needed a rework, but fans will be slightly disappointed not to receive more noteworthy additions.
Road to The Show: Falling flat on its face
Road to The Show stands out as a noticeable weak spot. Face scan allows community members to make their created pros look just like them with just one photo. The Ball Player hub received a much-needed makeover and on-field training returns over the use of mini-games.
Carlos Pena, Jake Peavy, and Robert Flores from MLB Network appear for brief cameo cutscene appearances. Unfortunately, Road to The Show lacks personality and is still far from becoming a fully realized ambition.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel when you already have a winning formula. MLB The Show 23 doesn’t stray too far away from what has made the series successful, and that’s a good thing. Sets and Seasons is a bold but welcomed change in Diamond Dynasty, and revamped drafting and scouting was long overdue in Franchise mode.
Road to The show once again disappointed, but Storylines managed to steal the show, rounding up another impressive entry for the baseball sim franchise.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5.