If gold standard means “a thing of superior quality which serves as a point of reference against which other things of its type may be compared”, then OOTP 19 is definitely the gold standard of the baseball simulation games. Or perhaps even of the whole genre, even if Football Manager has that worldwide reputation that’s hard to pass, especially considering the global popularity of soccer.
That being said, it’s late March/early April and there is a number of rituals that baseball fans and simulation gamers do, and when the two worlds collide, it becomes the purchase of the new version of Out of the Park Baseball. In the latest few years, the devs preferred an approach more focused on adding a little bit each year and fixing things, rather than going all-out and adding several big improvements that often generate more problems than anything, and this approach has paid off. Big way.
The partnership with Origin has probably benefitted the game as it gained more visibility and the devs (more motivated with this big move?) could allocate even more resources to improve the core of the game.
The little-step approach I was talking about is, for example, set out best in the 3D visualization of the game. This year it has really improved, with a more detailed engine with more animations and some eagerly-waited dynamicity, but the way it improves with the years is definitely exciting. Think about the wording “rock steady”. The 3D visualization won’t get you hailing it as a miracle, but it has enough variety and lacks scripting or bugs that will annoy you out of it. This is something that you can achieve only with proper knowledge not only of your product, but also of who uses it.
Going on with a bit more detail, the new thing that you will meet first is the new interface. Ok, the UI was great in OOTP 18, but why not improve it even further? Now everything looks much better, even if one couldn’t think that last year’s version could be that improved in just one year, especially thinking about the little-step approach I described earlier.
The new UI is a pleasure to play/work with. There are many little things that are enjoyable, for example, the integration with the challenge mode (by the way, you can use your challenge mode account also on Franchise Hockey Manager products). It’s particularly comfortable to have just to hit your F1 key on pretty much any screen to get moved to the OOTP manual. Especially the upper part is a good step forward, but there are two things that I am a little bit disappointed with. First of all, I preferred the whitish background, a bright look is more friendly and less tiring to my eyes especially during longer sessions. The darker skin admittedly looks cool, but after twenty minutes or so I wish I could get back to white.
The second thing is that you still need to wait for some “loading” moments when selecting certain screens. It’s not the end of the world, as you just need to wait a few seconds, but it’s something that I was expecting to be ironed out this year. That being said, the UI is excellent and the two points I just expressed are complaint at a very high level.
The biggest improvement of this year has been the new 3D view of the game. MLB The Show won’t be dethroned in this department, however, the improved visualization really adds to immersion, especially for slow gamers. Perhaps next year the devs will work a bit more on the ballparks, but if you can forgive a little lack of details you will find yourself a lot more immersed this year, that is, if that’s possible.
There isn’t much to write about realism. Trades, contracts, and AI were on a high level last year and they keep on being like that with OOTP 19 too. The international leagues are of much interest for some users, for others are not. If you are a fan of the posting system, I suggest you to select more leagues at the startup other than the MLB, in particular the best ones, like the Japanese or the Korean league. The posting rules aren’t 100% accurate, but they mimic the real-life situations pretty well.
It goes without saying that you’ll have the same options for creating custom leagues or replay historic season. You can also get two teams from different eras clashing off in a single exhibition game.
All in all, OOTP 19 is another home run. If you enjoy sim games and are a fan of baseball, this game is for you. If you’re a new player, don’t get overwhelmed by the steep curve, it’s worth it. Every cent.
Out of the Park Baseball 19 sells for $39.99 and is available on Steam and through the company’s website. International prices may vary. The author of the article has been rewarded with a review copy. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.