The 2023 MLB season is upon us, and so is a new Out of the Park Baseball title. Out of the Park Baseball 24 allows users to channel their inner general manager and take an MLB team — or KBO and MLB Partner League teams — to glory. But for those unfamiliar to the franchise, this game is very different from the likes of Power Pros and MLB The Show. That’s because rather than playing games, you’ll be at the whims of the game’s simulation engine. So, should you take a look at Out of the Park Baseball 24? That depends on what you’re looking for.
Back to the grind
If you’ve ever played Out of the Park Baseball, the concept of the game’s core mode has not changed. Players must attempt to build a team worthy of winning it all, using smarts and hoping that the simulation goes the right way every now and then.
Much like in prior years, MLB fans can choose to either start at the beginning of the current regular season, or use the game’s live mode. With the latter option, Out of the Park Developments will automatically set the season up with all real-life results up to the point in which you take over. For example, Mets fans who began their OOTP 24 file on March 31 would find the Amazins at 1-0.
As far as the simulation is concerned, relatively much — aside from a different UI — remains the same. We’ll get to the UI in a second, but let’s touch on the core gameplay. OOTP’s engine remains the same as in the past, meaning that advanced analytics like exit velocity and launch angle are merely cosmetic and don’t play a role in the actual simulation itself. Rather, the focus is on core attributes like power and plate discipline for hitters, and stuff and control for pitchers.
But, keep an eye on the stats of both Major and Minor League players. Every now and then, you’ll find a player that has a high on-base percentage or K/9 — but a lower overall — that could provide value for that “Moneyball”-like squad.
The Perfect Team is back
CCG game modes have become a thing in sports games, and that is no different with Out of the Park Baseball 24. OOTP’s Perfect Team is back for another year, a mode that allows players to build a team full of current or former players, and see whether those individuals can push your squad to the top.
But unlike the MyTeam and Madden Ultimate Teams of the world, Perfect Team cards are relatively easy to obtain, and the sim-based nature of the game means that simply setting a lineup on a regular basis should guarantee enough currency to flesh out the roster.
What could be better?
A couple of years ago, I wrote in detail about 2K’s MLB Front Office Manager. MLB Front Office Manager was a flawed game, but it did have a really good system for scouting. In that game, users simply needed to allocate money to a specific region in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. That would allow for more resources to scout ballplayers and their potential.
In Out of the Park Baseball 24, manual scouting reports must be generated by reviewing the draft list, finding a specific player, and then assigning it to the front office. It can be a bit tedious, as one could imagine.
Scouting is an important part of building a strong organization — for obvious reasons. Because of that, it’s important to get it right. At the same token, it would be nice to be able to
streamline the process a bit. Aside from having the ability to manually ask for a report on a player, I believe a region-based system (i.e. West Coast, Southeast, etc.) where one can choose how much to invest in a particular area makes a lot of sense. After all, each MLB Draft features unique draft classes.
Second, I would like to see Out of the Park Developments get the colleges involved a bit more. I’m not necessarily talking about having official logos or jerseys in the game. But, I do think — at least for research purposes for the MLB Draft — a dedicated section for looking at player stats would go a long way for fleshing out the draft board for the current and future years.
Out of the Park Baseball 24 has always been an innovative game, but can it be better? Absolutely. But at that same token, there are very few games that still can compare, at least with regard to the detail that OOTP Developments put into the game. So long as you’re fine with not actually playing games, it’s a solid buy.
As long as you’re a fan of simulation games, you will like the latest installment in the OOTP series.