Two writers handle one big sports game.
So this will be a unique first for LHG as I will be talking about Franchise mode, Diamond Dynasty, and the new Moments feature while Graydon will be giving his opinion on Road to the Show changes as well as perhaps the biggest new game mode: March to October. So as a certain MLB Network series goes… PLAY BALL!
There is really one big improvement for Franchise mode and that is the contract extension. It can only be done twice in the season: Spring Training and the Trade Deadline. There are three versions of extending a player’s contract and that is either a normal (X amount for the entire duration), Front loaded (More money up-front), and Back Loaded (More money near the end of the contract).
Aside from playing games the actual games, franchise is mainly playing as the General Manager of whatever team you want to play as. In my main franchise save I have a six team dynasty with the Yankees, Royals, Astros, Mets, Brewers, and Giants. The only teams I’ve altered dramatically has been the Royals and Giants. I traded away some big arms such as Will Smith, and Mark Melancon along with Brandon Belt in a deal with the Chicago Cubs for Anthony Rizzo. Due to the time I started the franchise Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, and more were free agents still and Keuchel went to Milwaukee and Kimbrel went out west to San Francisco. As for the Royals I went for players that would be overlooked by other teams such as Chase Whitley, C.J. Cron, and Colby Rasmus who is Mr. Clutch for me.
For those of you who are really into baseball operations as I am you probably turned off the CPU assist for things such as contracts, managing the different rosters, scouting for prospects, and more. While The Show will never be on the same level as an Out of the Park game that is deep with statistics and gives you more things to do than Franchise mode.
Diamond Dynasty + Moments
Diamond Dynasty has been completely overhauled with the removal of the souvenirs system from past iterations of the game. There is also a revamped in game economy. When you receive a card from buying a pack you will get an amount you can auto-sell the item for. You can either quick-sell or set your own prices in the store for X amount of stubs.
Speaking of packs there are multiple different packs that are base level packs, gear packs, and others that can lead to you getting some pretty sweet players. I for example preordered the game twice and the rewards rolled over and I got players like Miggy Cabrera. Charlie Blackmon, and the Iron Horse himself Lou Gehrig. The overhaul with the defense is that if you have a first basemen playing at second he will screw up 9 times out of 10. It has to be a player that has his primary or secondary position where you want them to be to make sure no error’s are made.
Now when it comes to the Moments mode I really like what Sony San Diego decided to do and that is recreating legendary moments from the past and present. Some examples are selections of Babe Ruth’s career as both a pitcher and a hitter. Another is the magical year the Chicago Cubs had in 2016 when they erased over a century of heartbreak. Another is the early part of Bryce Harper’s career when he is about to finish in the minors and ascend to the Majors. I kind of liked the way they handled players who were not included in the game that either never made it to The Show or simply didn’t make it into the game. The player is either “MLB Pitcher” or something along those lines. You have about three chances to complete the Moment and what could’ve happened is you would have three separate attempts to try to get it right once. What I was pleasantly surprised to see was that your progress carries over with each chance to beat the objective. The reason I combined Diamond Dynasty with Moments is that they are in the same boat and practically gel together. You complete a moment and are paid in stubs which let you buy packs to get players and so goes the cycle.
When it comes to Franchise, Diamond Dynasty, and Moments I pleasantly enjoyed the new additions, overhauls, and in the case of Moments a new game feature entirely. I give my portion 4/5.
Road to the Show
While I’ve played MLB: The Show sparingly over the past few years, 19 is the first installment I’ve purchased on day one (pre-ordered, even) and tried every game mode. This year was also my first foray into Road to the Show, and I must say after logging countless hours playing as “G-Man Plush,” it’s a real shame I waited this long to try this game mode out.
I must preface this by saying I don’t know exactly which features are new additions to the MLB franchise, as I’ve never even touched Road to the Show before. Starting off, I was tasked with creating a new character from scratch to take on the minor league. Customization is so in-depth in The Show 19, ranging from typical height and weight and voice clips to how your character’s stance changes when he hits a foul ball or a home run. I was blown away by some of these characteristics; even the equipment can be altered, with multiple brand name clothing options and a wide array of colors to choose from. Probably the most intriguing, though, is the jaw-dropping amount of names you can choose from, with fan-favorite announcer Matt Vasgersian reciting every last one. Just a technical side note, the voice-over for The Show 19 is ridiculously detailed, with announcer banter and cutaways to Heidi Watney feeling so lifelike and accurate thanks to the vast assortment of pre-recorded lines. The attention to detail here is insane.
After creating a character, Road to the Show follows the standard procedure of figuring out your character’s position and balance (are they a stronger hitter or fielder?), selecting a Major League team to strive for, and jumping into the season. I naturally chose the Boston Red Sox as my dream team, and I soon found myself playing second base for the Portland Sea Dogs. The gameplay is as addictive as it is repetitive, with the simulation option giving you the ability to rush through game after game. Each match-up flies right by as you’re given an average of three at-bats and about five fielding occurrences per game. These are fun, though, as it’s enjoyable to train your batting skills, and fielding provides a deeper level of action to The Show, as using the joystick and R2 to aim and throw at the appropriate base makes “G-Man” feel like a vital part of the team.
Perhaps the most enticing aspect of Road to the Show, however, is the RPG-like storyline. As “G-Man” progressed from the Sea Dogs to the Kansas City Royals – plot twist, I know – he’s been given the option to interact with other players on his off days. When he’s not playing actual games or training in the gym or batting cages, your character can form friendships with teammates, or rivalries with opponents, utilizing a dialogue tree. These dialogue options rely on one of four attributes: Captain, Heart and Soul, Lightning Rod, and Maverick, which branch further off as time goes on, opening up new perks for your character which he can use in games. “G-Man Plush” focuses on the Heart and Soul strand, which has granted him perks such as Defibrillator – which improves his hitting ability at higher ball counts – and Heartwarmer – which improves his hitting ability in day games – to name a few. This unique role-playing aspect within The Show 19 really kept me engaged while progressing further through the season and it continues to draw me in more each day. Road to the Show has quickly become a staple of my routine, and no night is complete without my MLB fix.
March to October
On the flip side of things, March to October is a mode that I can genuinely do without. A brand new addition to the series, this game mode gives players the opportunity to follow a major league team and jump in at “pivotal moments” throughout the season in order to lead their team to a World Series victory. Unfortunately, all March to October is good for is wasting a lot of time only to be disappointed and watch the simulation destroy your team’s glory over the course of six months. That’s all I witnessed, anyway.
The best way to describe March to October in layman’s terms is “time trials for baseball fans.” Sure, there are other modes that focus on one specific aspect of gameplay (see: Home Run Derby), but I compare this mode to time trials in that it’s strictly for the best of the best, and if you’re not very good at The Show and just enjoy it for the fun of it (i.e. me), you’re not going to March very far.
I chose the Red Sox, again, as my team of choice and the opening cinematic brought a little tear to my eye. Seeing my boys get their recognition for such a bad ass 2018 season really got me in my feelings. Shortly after that, though, I got to see my digital boys fall right off that pedestal and tumble into one of the worst seasons imaginable, thanks to March to October’s disgustingly “fun” gimmick.
The mode can go one of two ways, either controlling the entire team and shifting the course of the game in progress or starting a game from the beginning while controlling only one player, a la Road to the Show. Focusing on the main style of play, each “pivotal moment” takes place during a random game in each series, and I must admit it’s fun to live out the games in real time. I remember playing a game on May 19 against the Astros and it was really cool to watch that game in real life that day and see how different the outcome was (spoilers! They won, I didn’t).
Now as for why March to October blows, well that’s not too hard to grasp. I started off the season in the lead, and after losing the one game, I never quite got my mojo back. This loss kicked off a losing streak which prompted the simulation to lose the majority of coming games. In the next series, I was tasked with getting a rally going in the bottom of the ninth and coming back to win the game. I didn’t. You see, it’s just super difficult when you’re plopped into a game with a random lineup and you’re told “hey, you’re losing. fix it!” That’s just… not fun. Every game lost makes your team “colder,” which continues the losing streak. On top of this, each win barely makes a dent in getting your team “hotter,” and morale just stagnates as each game goes by.
When you’re not being told to spark a comeback whilst down 3 points in the 8th inning, you’re taking control of a player and trying your best to perform strongly to garner a boost for the rest of the season. For example, I once took control of Mookie Betts for a whole game, only playing his at-bats and catching pop fly’s to right field. This brought back some lovely Road to the Show vibes, but overall it didn’t manage to raise my spirits, as underperforming led to the announcers publicly slandering Mookie in the post-game roundup, which hurt both my team’s standings and frankly, my feelings. March to October is one disappointment after another, and unless you’re a real MLB big shot, there’s just no point in taking your emotions on this roller coaster.
While Road to the Show continues to be a definite high point for the MLB franchise, what with its rpg-like qualities and focus on frantic action in short bursts, March to October left a bad taste in my mouth and hopefully won’t return in future installments. I give my portion 3/5