MLB The Show 23 avoids the same disappointment as its predecessor with the addition of excellent and meaningful content. While there are some annoying performance issues in online modes that will hopefully be ironed out, it's definitely worth any baseball fan's time.
MLB The Show 23’s predecessor, The Show 22, came onto the scene during a time when the fanbase wanted more from the franchise besides grinding an online mode to have the best team. What we actually got from The Show 22 were improved player faces, a new play-by-play commentary crew, and some minor graphical updates. There were no major additions to any single player or online game mode besides roster updates, which was incredibly underwhelming. Year-on-year sport game releases can experience a lot of fatigue from a lack of variety, so after countless innings played on the PS5, let’s have a look at what’s new in MLB The Show 23 and see if it can do better than last year’s offering.
The main addition for MLB The Show 23 is the heroic storylines of the Negro Leagues. Finally we get to experience the ground-breaking moments that took place in times where some of the best games of baseball weren’t being played at league levels, because of Black players being forbidden to play due to segregation in the United States.
These early heroes of baseball now finally get their debut in the MLB The Show franchise. You can now play as iconic players, reliving some significant moments in their extraordinary careers. The change in setting from playing in modern baseball stadiums to these historic moments is extremely memorable, engaging, and immersive, and it’s a really great addition to this year’s game.
Continuing with firsts in the franchise’s history, Face Scan has been added so you can put yourself in the Road to the Show. Utilising the MLB The Show Companion App, the process of scanning your face is unfortunately very hit and miss, and when you finally take a good enough picture the app takes a surprisingly long time to sync with the game. I wasn’t really impressed with the end results either. It’s fairly obvious the face scan feature within the game is still a work in progress, that hopefully will be perfected over time.
Looking at what MLB The Show 23 offers graphically, the game looks fantastic, but where it really shines is in the presentation. I love the small details of players reacting to certain situations. Batters getting struck out and beating themselves up about it, the left fielder seething from making a poor throw costing the team a run, the pitcher reacting to a bad call by the umpire, the list goes on. The only thing missing here is the managers of the team coming out of the dugout to scream at the umpire. That would make it a truly authentic baseball experience.
It is certainly a welcome surprise to see baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr introducing you to the Road to the Show, the mode where you can create your own character and rise through the minor leagues with the wide eyed dreams of making it big. Diamond Dynasty is also back with an updated roster for another bout of personalised online baseball action. The level of customisation you are granted is impressive, designing your own uniform and logo for your squad that they’ll wear with pride, and you can even create your own stadium.
The online modes, however, do have room for improvement in the performance department. I noticed a significant slowdown whilst online during clutch moments, such as throwing off timing for pitches and hitting. Because of this, I experience plenty of games played online that went into extra innings with zero runs on the board between both players’ teams. Hopefully this issue will be fixed going forward.
After playing all the modes on offer, it’s safe to say the best parts of MLB The Show 23 are Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty for two reasons: investment and elation.
The investment I felt in my character in Road to the Show is almost like having a child you’re proud of. The moment when my player got called up and rose to starting shortstop for the New York Yankees almost put a tear in my eye. I was there putting in the work, playing each game, getting their stats up, and making them the best they can be. That is a great feeling of hard work paying off. So in the second year when my character got traded to a different team as a backup left fielder the amount of shame felt is unreal.
Despite the performance issues mentioned earlier, Diamond Dynasty was a very enjoyable experience for me. This is where playing and team building skills were put to the test. Putting players I’ve accumulated into their best position, managing the best starting pitchers based on their variety of throws – this amount of preplanning made moments where I pulled off a clutch base hit, leading my team to victory, feel so much sweeter. At one point it had me jump out of my seat cheering.
However, when I wanted to change up my team I felt extremely limited due to the presence of microtransactions. The practice of buying packs to get additional players for your Diamond Dynasty squad almost being mandatory does make me feel trapped in my current lineup, especially when I would come across players in online matches with high ranking player cards that they’ve bought from packs.
Overall though, MLB The Show 23 does great work at adding much needed features and game modes to the franchise, and doesn’t fall into the same trap as its predecessor. Despite elements of microtransactions and a few performance issues, it is 100% worth every baseball fan’s time.