Well, Christmastime has come and gone yet again, but that doesn’t mean the time for making lists and checking them twice is over. We are fast approaching baseball season, and with that always comes a new MLB The Show game. With MLB The Show 23 just over the horizon, I want to close the book once and for all on MLB The Show 22. We have looked at the game, both the good and the bad, and now I want to see how SDS can improve upon it going into MLB The Show 23.
Now I will be very clear up front. I do not expect all the items on this wish list to be included in MLB The Show 23. Honestly, I don’t expect even half of them to be included. These items are not based on any information or guesses on what will be in the next game. This piece is based solely on my own ideas for how the development team can improve upon MLB The Show 22. With that said, let’s get into my wish list for MLB The Show 23.
Like I said in my article on what I did not enjoy about MLB The Show 22, my biggest problem this past year that I feel needs to be addressed is hitting. While I would absolutely love a new hitting engine this year, I realize this is a big ask. That is why I will perfectly fine with at the very least some gameplay changes and improvements. Hitting needs to be much more consistent. It should not feel random and unrewarding. Player skill should be the most important factor in determining if a ball put in play is a hit or not.
The other big gameplay change I want is for fielders to have an acceleration rating that determines how long it takes for them to reach top speed. I do not want to continue to see Babe Ruth running around the outfield like he is Ricky Henderson.
Top of my list for Diamond Dynasty is to bring back Team Affinity. The merging of Team Affinity with the Innings Programs to create the Featured Programs was a failed attempt to make player’s lineups more diverse and less meta-dependent. It also was a way of reducing the rewards players got from gameplay, forcing them to grind even more to complete collections. Bring back Team Affinity where players can get all 30 players from gameplay. The Featured Program can continue to be different in terms of the number of bosses players earn, themes, and how long they last.
Next on the list is to shorten the grind for Player of the Month cards in the Monthly Awards Programs. These programs became so tiresome to grind once the best cards in them were added that it made grinding for them a chore instead of a fun progression. While we are on the topic of these programs, if you are going to continue to reveal the Retro Lightning card at the beginning of the month, let us earn that card then instead of having to wait four weeks to get it.
I’ll talk about this more in my Road to the Show section, but CAPs need to be taken out of Diamond Dynasty. The fact that the development team thought it would be a good idea to let players have cheesy maxed out ratings players on their team in the main online competitive mode in their game is astounding to me. It has gone on for two years now and it is time for this experiment to finally be put to bed.
My favorite mode in Diamond Dynasty is Conquest mode so of course I’m going to ask for some additions to it. The main thing I would love for this mode is to add an AI difficulty setting. Currently in the mode, the AI will not try to take territory like a real player would. They just fill out a little section of the map and then just sit there. This leads to completing a conquest map being just boring instead of requiring some form of strategy. Adding an AI difficulty setting to let players try to earn better rewards. This would be a great addition that would add such replay ability to the mode.
Co-Op needs a lot of love and care this year. The mode was introduced with a ton of bugs and issues. There are also no rewards or missions to complete in the mode, making playing it just a novelty. If SDS wants people to engage with this mode, they need to spend a lot of time making sure it is stable and functioning how it should. They also need to add some kind of meaningful rewards to it. I think the reward path should be similar to Events where so many wins earns you certain rewards.
This will probably be the biggest section of my wish list. Franchise mode in MLB The Show has been neglected for at least a decade at this point with little to no upgrades most years. So, it is finally time to revamp Franchise mode into what it should be.
The most important and impactful addition that could be made to MLB The Show 23 Franchise mode is bringing back online franchises. Online franchises were removed from the game starting in MLB The Show 18. At the time, SDS said it was done “to prioritize the stability and speed of our online infrastructure…” Anyone who has played MLB The Show over the last few years knows that the online experience is anything but stable. With freeze-offs, glitches and exploits galore, it is time to stop using this as an excuse to not have an online franchise.
The team also said “With the major technology change this year it wasn’t possible to just leave in the previous mode without alteration.” The team has now had 4 years, as well as a new generation of more powerful consoles, to make the needed alterations to get online franchises working. MLB The Show is the only one of the major sports titles that does not have this in their game, which is a common theme for many of the things on my wish list.
Custom Draft Classes
Another feature that is common in other sports games but absent from MLB The Show is custom draft classes. Madden and NBA 2K have allowed players to create draft classes and share them online for years now. MLB The Show desperately needs to get with the times and implement this basic feature. While they are at it, they should take a page out of NBA 2K’s book at use their impressive lineup of legends to create historic draft classes. Imagine being able to replay careers of guys like Babe Ruth, Kirk Gibson, Ken Griffey Jr and David Ortiz.
A full expansion mode would be so easy to implement in MLB The Show. The team creation suite is already available in Franchise mode for rebranding teams. All you would need to do is add an expansion draft. Not only have the NBA 2K games had this feature for years, but the All-Star Baseball series had this feature almost 20 years ago.
International Free Agency
International Free Agency needs to be added into the offseason of Franchise mode. Some of the biggest stars in MLB right now, including MLB The Show 22 cover athlete Shohei Ohtani, were signed from overseas leagues. There should be a specific period in the offseason where players can offer contracts exclusively to IFAs. Players would not know the exact ratings of these players like they do with other free agents though. They would have to scout them throughout the year like they do with MLB Draft prospects.
Speaking of scouting, can we please change up scouting this year. I mean the scouting in this series has basically been the same since before The Show was added to the title. There are so many options for SDS to go in that have proven successful in other games. They could go with a deep system like Madden currently has or a simple system like NBA 2K and the old NCAA Football games. Either way, just mix it up for once, I’m begging you!
Training and Progression
Player training is another part of Franchise mode that feels like it hasn’t been touched since the PS2 days. The current method for training is just going into a list of your players and assigning them one drill that will supposedly improve certain attributes. However, there is no way of seeing exactly if or how these are affecting players. A new training system is needed that shows players how their decisions are paying off in player progression.
Player progression and regression also needs an overhaul. This is something that has been advertised as being improved over the last few years, but the issue remains year after year. Player performance seems to have little to no affect on how much a player progresses or regresses. There have been plenty of times I have seen a player have one of the best years of their career, and their overall still dropped several points due to their age or years of MLB service time.
Prospect and farm system rankings should be expanded and easier to view. Currently, you can only view the top 50 prospects in the game. However, during gameplay we see on the bottom-line there are headlines about certain teams having the top ranked farm systems. We should have a screen where we can actually see the farm system rankings. We should also be to view prospects rankings within our own farm system to see how our prospects stack up against one another.
Road to the Show
Road to the Show is another mode that feels like it has been neglected for several years now. What used to be the mode that sold the game, Road to the Show now feels like just something that is in the game to check off the career mode box on a checklist.
Equipment and Perks
The number one thing that absolutely needs to happen this year in Road to the Show is to get rid of the equipment and perks system. I have hated this system ever since it was introduced last year. It takes all replay ability out of the mode. Now, it doesn’t matter how good your player performs. The only thing that matters in terms of their progression is getting the better perks and equipment, which can conveniently be purchased in the Diamond Dynasty marketplace. Once you have those perks and equipment, there is no need to grind to make your player better. Even if you create a brand-new player, you will still have all of these perks and equipment available immediately. This means your new player could start out in the minors with a super high rating.
The only reason this system was put in was to try and integrate CAPs from Road to the Show into Diamond Dynasty. Like I said before, I do not know why SDS thought letting players use their maxed-out players from Road to the Show in a competitive online mode like Diamond Dynasty was a good idea. Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty to need remain completely separate modes.
A real progression system needs to be put in place in Road to the Show. A player’s ratings should increase based on how the player performs in the games, as well as how they spend points that they earn to progress their player. You know, how Road to the Show was before this new system was put in. I also do not want a system like NBA 2K has where players basically are forced to buy these points to upgrade their players. These upgrade points should not be sold in the marketplace and need to be earned at a rate where players feel like they are progressing in a reasonable amount of time.
The story part of Road to the Show either needs to be completely remade from the ground up or taken out completely. I understand they want to have the story part like NBA 2K does with their MyCAREER mode. But the story in Road to the Show is so basic and boring. It is literally just text boxes with the same boring dialogue and conversations we have seen for years now. These conversations are here just there to disguise you making decisions about your player’s career. I would much prefer an actual menu I can go to anytime to do things like request a trade or change positions instead of having to wait and hope that conversation will happen.
The final item on my list is one the community has been asking to return for a few years now. Throughout the 7th and 8th generation of consoles, MLB The Show featured year-to-year saves. This gave players the ability to transfer saves files from one game to the next. Meaning you could take your existing RTTS or Franchise saves and continue them in the new game once it releases. This was one of the few features that MLB The Show had that no other major sports game did. This consumer friendly feature helped set MLB The Show apart from the other annual sports games.
However, starting in MLB The Show 21, year-to-year saves were removed. This meant players could no longer carry over the RTTS and Franchise files they had been playing for years. This also meant all the custom rosters, logos, and other community created content in the vaults would have to be remade each year. With the incredible amount of time and effort people put into these creations, it doesn’t seem right to ask them to start all over every year. Bringing back year-to-year saves would be a big step for SDS to show people they still care about their players.
As I look back on MLB The Show 22 and look ahead to MLB The Show 23, I realize just how unimpressive this series has been the last few years. This has left many fans like myself with a laundry list of wanted features and improvements.
MLB The Show is at a crossroads. The game has begun to grow stale over the last few years. MLB The Show 23 is an opportunity to shed such staleness and become the premiere sports game of the new console generation. To do this, they will need to innovate and update every piece of the game, not just the Diamond Dynasty live content. If they can’t do that, I fear the game will lose its good reputation with fans and go further away from the standard it set many years ago.