MLB The Show 19 from developer San Diego Studios promises two things: the major annual upgrades fans have come to expect, plus meaningful upgrades to various modes, if not new ones outright.
Of course, fans will want to hear about those details as Tuesday's release unfolds. Adding to this talking point is another favorite—player ratings.
While quite a bit more than a simple roster update, player ratings always become the center of attention once they go public. This year, like the game-play refinements themselves, the ratings feel fresh and the very top is worth a look in both hitting and pitching.
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (99)
- Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (98)
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (98)
- Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (97)
- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (95)
- Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (97)
- Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (96)
- Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (96)
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (94)
- Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics (93)
What's fun about MLB The Show 19 is how distinctive these star players can feel, which is a big talking point of the review.
This especially applies in the field as opposed to at the plate. Being able to tell players apart at the batter's box has been a staple of baseball games for a long time. But this year, San Diego Studios went to great lengths to bring this factor to players as they line up in the infield or beyond.
New animations are rampant throughout the game. These are noticeable with umpires and at the plate, sure. But the big difference is in the field, where error-recovery plays and better A.I. decisions happen regularly.
As opposed to flipping the ball for a dangerous turn on a double play, computer-controlled players will now march to the bag themselves. New branching animations out of any scenario mean recoveries from mistakes and better coverage.
Player rating ends up factoring in big time. A star outfielder won't have any problems tracking the ball in the air or off the wall. The same can't be said for a player with an average rating, as a false first step off contact can cause mistakes, as could misunderstanding the angle of the ball off the wall.
An infusion of personality is a big deal for many players but so are changes to modes. Road to the Show is becoming more like an RPG than ever before. Upon creating a player, users will get to pick one of a handful of archetypes, which determines what key stats are easiest to develop.
Developing those stats partially comes from new workout mini-games. There's an added touch of immersion there, as well as while wading through the new personality types. Responding to teammates and interviews with a certain personality type will unlock new perks on a skill tree, which creates meaningful changes to game play as a season unfolds and a player develops.
But RttS is far from the only area notably changing. Diamond Dynasty now has a Team Affinity system that lets players dial in on the team-specific rewards they would like to earn. An XP Reward Path tied to the mode lets players earn unlocks for it by playing any mode in the game, too.
Then there is March to October, an entirely new game mode. This lets players experience a streamlined season as opposed to the slog of a full-blown franchise mode. Players get thrown into the fire during key moments of a series, month or season and have to excel.
Based on a player's performance in these key moments, a momentum factor will play into how the team performs when the simulation picks back up again. Stumble and take a loss, and the team is likely to keep having problems without the player at the controls. Come through in a big way, and the team could keep the hot streak going.
Call it another accessible, streamlined option for MLB The Show 19, which as a whole has attempted to reach a broader audience in past iterations with things like Retro and Home Run Derby modes. March to October looks like an extension of this and is a well-received development upon initial release of the game.
So far, MLB The Show 19 seems like a successful followup that feels like a big offering for an annual release, meaning the biggest debate comes down to those player ratings—as it should be.