MLB The Show 19 Release Date, Top Features, New Modes and Bryce Harper Cover

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

FILE - In this March 9, 2019 file photo Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper waits his turn in the batting cage before a spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Clearwater, Fla. For the first time since 2011, the Washington Nationals will go through a season without any help from Bryce Harper. So it's rather likely this year will be viewed, at least in part, as a referendum on whether the Nationals should have figured out a way to keep the young slugger. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, file)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

MLB The Show 19 arrives March 26, and like cover star Bruce Harper, it is going through some notable changes. 

Harper underwent a little change of scenery recently, which meant a cover revamp for the largest effort from developer SIE San Diego, too. 

The cover kept it simple and appealing: 

Fitting, as some of the changes baked into MLB The Show 19 have wide-reaching appeal while doing enough to have a massive impact. 

A new mode called "March to October" is the biggest change for the series. While the sport of baseball itself searches for ways to streamline the game experience and keep up in today's competitive battle for viewers' attention, the video-game realm is doing the same. 

March to October stakes its claim by only throwing players into the fire of a team's regular season at the most crucial of moments and incentivizes performance in those with big rewards—and season-long success. 

An episodic approach to a season's worth of games isn't necessarily a new idea, but tying a player's performance to a momentum mechanic that decides the fate of said season sounds like a blast.

For players who don't want to spend time on a bite-sized version of the most complicated sport around, other modes will continue to have them covered in the simulation depths they desire. 

The always-successful Road to The Show is back with some key refinements, which include an RPG-type of system for roles in the locker room—and the weight room. 

Game designer and online community manager Ramone Russell explained the newly dubbed Personality Growth and Relationships mechanic:

"Are you are a Maverick, Lighting Rod, Captain, or the Heart and Soul of the team? As you level up in each personality tree and relationship, you’ll unlock perks, and boost them as well. All of the perks align to your role on the team dynamic."

Keep in mind these new mechanics are additional layers to an already-complex web for a mode that has set the standard for a sports journey of sorts in a video game, as players take their created character to the heights of the pros. 

For those who want to compete, Diamond Dynasty is back as well with a Battle Royal experience and the customization fans of the mode have asked for, including bat skins. 

Zooming out for a large-sweeping look, a new XP Reward Path allows players to gain unlocks no matter what they do. And in a move all sports games might want to consider right away, selecting a team via Team Affinity will gear rewards earned toward that team. 

On the field itself, the defensive side of the equation got an overhaul in the form of improved A.I. and player distinction due to how they play away from the batter's plate. For a long time, the only difference between digital representations of pro players was their appearance and behavior at the plate—now details like style, throwing power and range will play a factor here, as well as in actual performance. 

In a sense, MLB The Show 19 is adding more variety to its gameplay with these changes. It applies when looking at the game as a whole, too. More options to pursue a World Series title, a more intimate feel to the single-player hook and better rewards throughout on top of the usual annual upgrades have the latest effort from SIE San Diego rightfully on the receiving end of a budding sense of hype.  

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