MLB ’22 looks to be one of the biggest sports titles of 2022. For good reason too.\

Hey all, your resident MLB The Show stan Allan here. After MLB ’21 was released on next-gen hardware, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it and am still not a fan of it for various reasons that you can read here on the site (insert co-op review link), so I figure, why not test a new feature on this year’s version of the game. “What’s New This Year” will be a dash of preview, a bit of opinion, and loads of information. Here’s how I will approach this particular title. Each header will be a particular recap of the feature premieres that you can find on the Sony San Diego YouTube channel.

MLB The Show Online Co-Op

MLB 22 will be the first game in the series to feature online co-op. There will be 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 online co-op play and you don’t even have to worry about platforms as the modes will be cross-play and cross-platform. This started as a result of San Diego Studio devs alternating playing community members.

It works just as you would imagine a co-op session would, with two or three people in a multi-player lobby all with a text chat and emojis to be used ad nauseum. The player that sets up the session is fittingly the only one able to make changes such as stadium selection, difficulty levels, players used, etc., and is the “Captain” of the experience.

Once you and your squad are in a game there will be, depending on how many people you are playing with, 2-3 different icons with red being pitcher/catcher, blue being infield, and yellow being outfield. Batting will work the way it works in real life with a 1-2-3 order and the fielding positions will alternate after each inning.

Every form of communication is covered so if you don’t feel like talking, there’s the text chat and vice-versa. There is a pitch suggestion feature that will let teammates, as the name implies, suggest pitches that you can throw to the opposing team. The “Captain” will be the one in charge of managing the game for things like warming up pitchers, substituting players, and more. When batting, the icons will change depending on who is at bat, on base, etc. For example, if you are on base there will be a yellow icon showing you are on base and the hitter will have an at-bat icon, and so on.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

2 v 2 and 3 v 3 co-op will also be coming to Diamond Dynasty, not just regular exhibition play. The way it works with Diamond Dynasty is first you get to combine cards accumulated in the game to compile a team. Each player will get to bring in 3 position players, 2 relievers, and 1 starting pitcher. 3 v 3 will be 4 cards brought in, however you cannot use the same players because that would break the immersion I imagine. When you start the game, the captain has the option to choose which starting pitcher will be used or it can be randomly picked. With 2 v 2 co-op pitcher/catcher is one position while the defense is the second. This will alternate as it does with the exhibition co-op. While you can choose to unite with friends as a team, you will not be able to seek out other friends to play against. But hey, this is the beginning of this feature so who knows where it will go next.

MLB The Show on Nintendo Switch

MLB The Show 22 will be the first-ever MLB The Show game on a Nintendo platform, and the first MLB game on Switch since MLB 21 was deemed dead on arrival last year. After playing the tech test on my Nintendo Switch (in docked mode) I noticed that:

  • The gameplay didn’t feel like it was all there.
  • The visuals were sorely lacking what even the PS Vita versions had graphics-wise.
  • The tech test on Switch wasn’t a genuinely fun investment of time.

However, Ramone Russell of San Diego Studios has since addressed the state of the tech test build on Switch and the overall quality saying it was two weeks old and poorly optimized for Switch. San Diego Studios will be targeting 30 frames per second max limit on Switch.

What is in the Nintendo Switch version you may ask? Well, there are three different builds depending on which platform you are playing on: the next-gen versions (PS5. Xbox Series X/S), the last-gen (PS4, Xbox One), and the Nintendo Switch which gets its own build that is good enough to be the bronze medal of the game. The three things all versions share regardless of what specific version you buy is the ability to have cross-play, cross-saves, and cross-progression.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

The only thing that you will not be able to do on the Nintendo Switch version of MLB The Show 22 is play ball in a custom stadium or make one for that matter as Stadium Creator is a next-gen exclusive feature. According to San Diego Studios the size of MLB The Show 22 on Switch will be 20 GB. To ensure you can play every mode you can download the content update.

 When it comes to how experiences will differ between docked and handheld mode there will be no difference while docked but the resolution will be reduced in handheld mode to preserve battery life and improve performance. Everything that has been earned will be available on every platform via cross-progression while paid content will remain on the platform it was purchased on. Thankfully there are no motion controls with the joy-cons so it will play like a traditional Nintendo Switch game.

Gameplay Updates

One of the bigger expansions to previously existing content is the addition of practice fielding to custom practice mode. This was something that I noticed in the tech test and you can practice almost anything that pertains to gameplay. On PlayStation platforms using L3 and the touchpad will give you the option to reset the practice sequence and/or practice in general. Not just that but the practice toolset being provided is the identical tool used by San Diego Studios.

There are now two lower-level difficulty options for those of you who aren’t the best at the game or like me, your reflexes have dulled. Amateur and Minors are the bridge between Beginner and Rookie. Dynamic Difficulty has also been revamped.

On the hitting side of things, the Plate Coverage Indicator has also been altered. First with the Dynamic PCI which means the further away from the zone you direct it the smaller it gets. This was done by San Diego Studios to make the game more realistic as the player can’t cover the entire zone and will level the playing field. Contact and Power swings have also been modified after San Diego Studios saw that players had been abusing the system and as a result contact swings will be less effective on pitches outside of the zone. The next thing is something I noticed when playing the tech test and that’s the PCI anchor. This will auto-lock your PCI to one of nine possible locations. This was implemented to help new or current players struggling in a certain area and would allow them to fine-tune their hitting. It also means more precision depending on where you anchor the PCI.

There have been major changes to the three main difficulty presets Casual, Simulation, and Competitive. Casual is easier, Competitive is harder, and simulation is a nice middle ground. The new addition to fielding is perfect throws for every base. This also hammers home the fact that the accuracy of your fielder will be more important in MLB The Show 22.

I covered more of this general area on an episode of WiN you can find (here)

Commentary and Presentation Changes

The big change to Commentary and Presentation in MLB The Show this year’s game is the revamp of commentary in general with Matt Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa, Dan Plesac, and Heidi Watney are gone from the game in favor of Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Chris Singleton. The former is currently the voice of the Chicago Cubs, and the latter is a member of the Milwaukee Brewers radio commentary team. They have also worked together in the past for ESPN as the team in charge of calling MLB games for ESPN Radio.

One of the things that will be introduced… well along the lines of “increased discussion”…will be the analytics of what just happened whether it’s launch angle, exit velocity, and more. When talking about dynamic range with the highs and lows and everything in-between Kirby St. John mentioned taking live calls from real Major League Baseball games and integrating it into the system. Sciambi and Singleton also recorded commentary for the game while watching gameplay as if it were an actual authentic baseball game. Unlike previous iterations of MLB The Show when there are plays that occur such as a home run, or a play at the plate you can get the feeling that something is being added to the game that is going on around you. St. John went further to say that there is an increase in the variety of the commentary during games. Andrew Irvine mentioned that to him, the live calls set the standard for the games.

Stitching enhancements are also being touted for MLB The Show 22. The way things are stitched together will seemingly be improved when it comes to the long-liners heard in previous versions of The Show. The entire sound system for the game has seemingly been revamped in one way or altered in another.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

When talking about the new conversation system St. John mentioned that internally it is referred to as “C H A T T E R” with the emphasis on weaving things in through an at-bat, an inning, or a different situation. The videos used to show off the conversation system seem refreshing, overly refreshing to be honest. The big emphasis for this system is to “allow the play-by-play to breathe, but still continue the conversation.” During the implementation of this new conversation system, Boog and Singleton sat down for one-hundred and twenty-eight recording sessions. Totaling 350 hours of recording with a majority of them together to feed off each with over forty-five thousand lines of dialogue.

With the Presentation updates. Andrew Irvine of San Diego Studios mentioned that they created new regional team themes to give you a sense that you are experiencing the game depending on what team you are playing as. The mentioning of ESPN when referring to Sciambi and Singleton isn’t the only aspect of ESPN making it into The Show 22 as both Kirby St. John and Andrew Irvine both worked at ESPN and are taking what they did and directing aspects into MLB The Show 22. There are also new broadcast themes for things such as Opening Day, the All-Star Game, the Post-Season, and more. This is all done to give you the feeling you are watching a big game on ESPN or MLB Network.

Another new element of MLB 22’s presentation is Google Statcast which is being utilized to add more authenticity. With the addition of Statcast is a new win-expectancy percentage that will fluctuate as the game goes on. There is now an updated news ticker that will give detailed updates on what is going on in each game you are not playing. What was shown includes trades, hit streaks, pitching performances, and more. An interesting addition is that of the “fan cam” which will give plays a new point of view that will vary in each stadium with a total of one hundred and fifty across the thirty stadiums.  

Franchise Mode Update

The biggest change to Franchise mode in MLB The Show 22 is the way players are viewed as well as the metric when it comes to trades. It all comes down to the evaluation of players based on their age, potential, performance, and team control/contract values. Metrics in MLB The Show 22 now use a three-year weighted WAR. “WAR” being Win Above Replacement. This will allow for logic system improvements. Consistency is going to be paramount when it comes to this.

When it comes to trade logic, teams that are rebuilding will go for prospects over adding big names from another team. Relief Pitchers and Closers will also be added to the trade block when teams are rebuilding. Teams that are making a playoff push will be adding pieces to upgrade any weaknesses they have. San Diego Studios addressed the common joke that Juan Soto would always get traded for nothing. The screenshot SDS used showed the Yankees giving up top prospects Anthony Volvpe and Jasson Dominguez to land Soto. Players will also no longer be traded after immediately signing in the offseason. That is something that I have a tendency to do in my franchise mode playthroughs so hopefully, I don’t get burned.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

Budgets for MLB The Show 22 have been modified to reflect the 40-man roster as opposed to the entire organization. This has also seen a change in free agency as players will no longer stay unsigned for the duration of the offseason. The team market sizes have been updated to reflect the current market as well. Speaking of contracts, the Average Annual Value has been upped to $35 million, the max contract year is now fifteen years, and the minimum contracts are now $700k. Relief pitchers also now have a boost in overall contract values.

Two-way players will now be able to DH the day after the pitch and when not pitching will recover stamina. Adding to that, pitchers that have a secondary position will become a two-way player if they are the best option to DH.

One of the problems I had with free agency in franchise mode was the fact that players you’d think would test the waters of free agency didn’t and instead chose to remain with their respective teams. SDS mentioned that in the first 30 days most big names would be off the board and signed. With the updates made to franchise mode, you can go into January and February with big names still on the board. Players now only sign during the exclusive signing period if they have a very high interest in re-signing with a team. Free agents on the other hand will weigh offers longer and sign throughout the entire offseason, reflecting current trends.

You will also no longer see valuable prospects magically find their way into the Rule 5 draft as was seen in older games. Perhaps the biggest enhancement is having the CPU keep players that have value to the organization. As well as player metrics having an effect on arbitration and renewable contracts. There will also no longer be created players in franchise mode or developers in franchise mode which had been a thing since the series’ inception. All the players on every roster will be real-life players.

When in the post-season you will now effectively see and have the option to do three-man rotations with the ace coming in on short rest to pitch a key game and have four-man rotations as well. There are now two different injury sliders as well, one for gameplay injury frequency and simulator injury frequency. Also, the transaction log has been expanded and stores four times more information.

March to October

March to October is the sped-up version of franchise mode that has you taking control of a team and making a push to the playoffs. Depending on how you do in-game you will garner momentum and lose momentum. You will call up players, and you will acquire and trade players. Perhaps the biggest announcement is that March to October will be able to be carried over into another year. Whereas March to October could previously be seen as a “WIN NOW!” experience, this year’s version is more of a team-building experience.

The first thing you will see when advancing into the next year of March to October is the Free Agency Big Board which is the central hub for the offseason from March to October, will have your #1, #2, and #3 priority players you want to sign. The experience lasts for 12 weeks and you have an offseason budget that you cannot go over so you must be cautious when deciding which player, you want to go after. You then have positional needs, and team needs. The former is about upgrading up to three positions on your team. The latter is selecting up to two positions to improve. Both of these will affect the recommended list which as the name implies, is a list of players recommended to boost your team. When adding a free agent to the big board you have recommended free agents, ones that fit your needs, the Top 100 free agents, and there is a free agent rumors area that lists free agents rumored to be in talks with other teams.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

Once you target a free agent you will contact their agent to learn if they have any interest in signing with your team and as weeks advance, updates on the pursuit will show. An example shown was having a team need an on-base machine and finding that player and targeting them as number one on the board will give you a better chance of landing that player. You will not be able to offer a contract to the said player until at least fifty percent of interest has accrued.

As you target more players and add them to the big board, the initial interest is gained per week decreases. There is also the chance that a targeted player will be linked to another team and get close to signing with said team. This will give you a last chance opportunity to sign said player away. You can then offer them a contract which will bring you to the new March to October contract offer screen. Depending on if said player is part of the Top 25 free agents, you will get a unique screen showing the player walking out in darkness which would then reveal which team they signed for. I personally think this will add to the sweepstakes aspect of free agency. If you sign a top name while pursuing another top name free agent you can offer them a reduced contract which will decrease interest but still give you an opportunity to sign them.

There are also free-agent opportunities that will occur when a player that fits what you are looking for asks if you are interested in signing them via their agent. You then have three options which are adding them to your targeted list, offering them a contract, or just flat out saying you aren’t interested. When you go to offer them a contract you have the option to make a “guaranteed acceptance” which is limited to one use per offseason and is only available if the player is more than fifty-five percent interested in joining your team. Because it is a guaranteed contract you will be paying above the player’s market value. At the end of the offseason, you are given a screen with key additions, overall ranking, and how you did in the offseason.

Road to the Show/Ballplayer

Personally, my biggest issue in MLB ’21 that I wasn’t able to get across in the co-op review as Graydon handled that area was Road to the Show. I didn’t really like being locked into a two-way player in the beginning. Sure, you had the option of choosing one or the other, or, pursuing both styles but the experience you had in previous games was gone as you knew it. First off, Joe Mauer has joined the Road to the Show narrative as one of the many analysts in Road to the Show. The goal according to San Diego Studios’ approach is to “provide tips applicable to MLB The Show as well as real-life baseball”. Joining the growing list of baseball personalities in RttS is Rachel Balkovec who is the manager of the Yankees Class A minor league team.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

A new addition to Road to the Show is the implementation of Rivalry Games, which as the name implies are games where you face your club’s biggest rivals such as Mets/Yankees, Giants/Dodgers, Yankees/Red Sox, and Cardinals/Cubs. These will vary depending on who is being interviewed in the podcast aspect of Road to the Show. Another interesting addition to the podcast aspect of the narrative is superstitions. The example used was Ken Griffey Jr. selling his car because he felt it had “no hits in it”. Another new addition is Kellen Lee who is a mental performance coach with the San Francisco Giants. There is now an update to the dynamic episode logic with SDS setting new parameters to respond to your ballplayer’s performance “like never before”.

Thankfully, things are more or less “returning to normal” when it comes to Road to the Show. There’s now more than one available ballplayer as you can play utilizing a maximum of ten. You can also choose to be a pitcher, two-way player, or position player. With that brings the return of archetypes which will influence the bonuses you can get in Road to the Show. Speaking of rewards, you will be getting more of those as well with revamped progression, missions, and more archetype items. There are now dynamic perks that will kick in in certain situations, equipment, experience points, and stubs to use to buy better items.

Credit: Sony San Diego (YouTube)

One of the changes being made to RttS is actually a really brilliant one that should have been added years ago. That being the option to learn pitches and then swap them out for different ones every so often. Perhaps the biggest return in Road to the Show is the return of the Knuckleball. However, it will only be available on Road to the Show.

And there you have it. Everything that’s new, with MLB 22. You can check back here for a co-op review by myself and Graydon Webb later in the month. See you then.

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: