MLB The Show's release date is just days away—one day, if you preordered the Jackie Robinson Edition—and it's a historic one for baseball's top simulation.
For the first time, The Show is coming to Xbox platforms. It's also being released on the Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles, meaning these are two huge firsts that Sony will hope takes the game to transcendent heights.
Here's a look at some of the new game modes it's throwing into MLB The Show 21 ahead of the release.
Stadium Creator (Next-Gen Only)
While Stadium Creator is only coming to the next-gen systems, it's also the most notable new feature in this year's game and it rules.
Stadium customization has been a much-needed addition to MLB The Show for years. Every baseball stadium is wholly unique, and giving players a chance to create one in their own vision—or even recreate an old favorite—adds a dynamic that will allow this iteration to stand out.
MLB The Show brand strategist Ramone Russell recently spoke to Jason Wilson of The Score and said it was necessary to wait until the PS5 and Xbox Series X came out to fully open up the capabilities of what they envision for Stadium Creator:
"That's how we approach every new feature. If we can't do it right, we're not going to do it. We'll put it on the back burner until we can figure out a way to do it right. We've been discussing this as a team for over five years and we've been actively working on it hard for over two years, so it's taken a while to get this feature off the ground. The way that (head graphics programmer) Jonathan Ramsey approached it was he looked at all of the stadiums and we knew what people want—I want to take that scoreboard from Wrigley Field and put it in left field or put it behind home plate and I want to take that MLB the Show sign that's over here in the corner and move it over there.
"He was basically able to take all the current stadiums and break them down into pieces that you could take off. The Stadium Creator feature is such an amazing tool that it could literally be a game itself."
The customization of the feature is what really stands out. While created stadiums have been part of the Madden franchise for years, they're built on a preset with no options for customization. MLB The Show 21 essentially allows you to customize anything beyond the dimensions of the diamond itself.
Expect to spend a few hours getting into every nook and cranny of your own stadium if you're on NextGen consoles.
Let's hope this is part of a trend that spans across all sports gaming. MLB The Show will allow cross-platform play, meaning friends on Xbox or PlayStation can go head-to-head in online play.
It's a pretty self-explanatory feature but one that will hopefully become ubiquitous and end all childish console wars henceforth. They're just big boxes that play video games, guys; none of it is ever that serious.
Here's looking at you Madden and 2K.
Pinpoint Pitching Makes Its Debut
After years of button timing that never quite felt 100 percent accurate, MLB The Show introduces the Pinpoint Pitching system this year.
The feature utilizes the right analog stick to assess your timing, gesture performance and accuracy of release to determine the direction of the pitch. If you nail all three facets, you should find the most accurate pitching system in baseball simulation history.
Anyone familiar with the 2K golf series knows how this works. Like golf games, you will need a combination of accuracy, timing and precision to nail the pitch location; it's much more of a skill-based game than simply pressing the buttons at the accurate time.
"It's exclusively using both analog sticks, and it's timing-based, too. So, it's a gesture and timing-based mechanic. So, every pitch in the game has a different gesture, and it's how you move the stick. The fastball has the easiest gesture, just up and down. But where the complexity comes in is different pitchers have different windup times and different stretch times. So, not every fastball gesture will be the same speed for every single pitcher. When you add in the complexities of sliders and splitters and curveballs and those different gestures and timings, now you have a really complex and diverse system that's going to be really difficult to master."
The old pitching systems will still be available for those who don't enjoy the switch, but this should be a popular feature among those who like a more realistic sim.
Other Additions of Note
- Two-way players coming to Road to the Show: Want to get your Shohei Ohtani on? Now's your chance. MLB The Show 21 will be the first to offer the chance to both pitch and hit with your player.
- Various fielding improvements added: MLB the Show will offer optional additions to help fielding, including a route tracker that gives you the best route to a ball and a meter that allows you to assess your likelihood of robbing a home run.
- Cross-progression: If you're yet to make the upgrade to a new console but plan to at some point in the near future, MLB The Show will carry over your progress from PS4 to Xbox Series X or PS5.