The 2017 MLB season is about to start, and OOTP Developments has launched a new version of their popular baseball simulator, Out of the Park Baseball 18.
One year after OOTP 17, the new title is back with improvements and new features that promise a lot to its fans.
But are the promises kept in the end?
The first novelty you can see is the all-new Challenge Mode, where players can play a streamlined version of the game and share their achievements with players in all over the world through an OOTP account.
Some functions aren’t possible (like the Commissioner mode) and since I’m not much of a social player I personally have not opted for the Challenge Mode, preferring the old, but always valid, standard mode.
On a side note, the game this year featured their first digital cover with an all-time team voted by OOTP Community users.
The game comes with updated rosters, including the blockbuster trade that brought Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox, as well as all other off-season moves.
The highlight of the playable leagues is the MLB, with its official license, but you can also play in a number of leagues like Japan, Italy, and others. As usual, OOTP allows for a nearly limitless amount of customization options, with the newly-introduced semi-automated promotion and relegation that should make the joy of many fictional mode aficionados.
One thing that is sure to please many players, especially the ones who like to micromanage, is the new Team Chemistry screen.
The gameplay is the good old OOTP flow. The only problem is that sometimes the action is a bit dead, but it can be a common problem in text-based sims.
Players who want to really get immersed will find enough things to keep themselves busy. There are lists of the top 100 prospects, international competitions, messages from the board, and so on.
The historical mode has been improved as well, with one of the new advertised features being the implementation of Negro Leagues.
There is no game that can deliver a perfectly balanced trade system. OOTP in the past has been fairly criticized for the realism of its trades, but I think that it’s mostly unreasonable to consider that a game would think like a real-world MLB GM.
With that said, the game mostly recognizes what phase a team is in. For example, at the start of the game the Chicago White Sox are in rebuilding mode.
Teams who rebuild usually tend to protect their young players, and accordingly I couldn’t find an acceptable solution to acquire White Sox second base Yoan Moncada. The only option was by giving away a top player and a top prospect, a solution that doesn’t sound unrealistic at all.
The same can be said about the negotiation process. A thing I always liked from OOTP is their real-time negotiations, and it keeps on improving year after year. Perhaps I found it a little bit too easy to renew contracts giving players less than what they were asking, but my sample is definitely too small to consider it a problem.
Speaking about things that keep on improving, the 3D simulation has been improved. Now there are arms swings and some new little animations that make the 3D view even more immersive than it was in 2017.
Reaching your team’s tactics is easy and fast. You can use some quick-play options to quick-sim innings or games should you, for example, be up by four against an easy opponent in regular season game #80.
The UI got some work, but if you’re used to OOTP 17, you won’t get lost. But if you’re new, you’ll need a little time to adapt. The right-side bar will help you to get to the most-visited screens, and the notification counter on the mail & news icons are very handy. The game shares some common things with Franchise Hockey Manager, therefore if you own both titles you should take even less time to get used to the UI.
All-in-all, this game is a home run. At this point, probably not even Football Manager gives its players so much control over a user’s team. If you are a sport-management game fan, there’s no reason not to get OOTP Baseball 18.
Improving over the 17 version wasn’t an easy feat, but the devs did it. Hats off.
- Even better than OOTP 17, and that alone would be enough.
- Solid, under-the-hood improvements that made a great game just better.
- Incredible control over your team.
- Different modes that will appeal to every taste.
- Such a huge number of options can scare new players.
- Not the right title if you have “just five minutes”.
Final Score: 9/10
Out of the Park Baseball 18 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.