As San Diego Studios (SDS) does every year, the developer live stream schedule for their MLB The Show series began today with the subject being gameplay improvements in MLB The Show 19.
The development team hosted two different live streams today with the first one being focused on fielding improvements; so that will be my focus for this piece. I’ll have a separate article for the hitting side of things.
During the fielding improvements stream, three members of the development team discussed a list of items:
- Improvements to the fielder ratings system (Playing players out of position or in secondary positions)
- Animations for fielding hits off the wall and new surface types
- Improving efficiency for fielding animations
- Combating exploits from previous installments
- Introducing new animations
- Adjusting the fielder tier system
The developers, as they do with each stream, then ended it by revealing a brand new Legend added into the game. That legend was Jimmie Foxx in case you didn’t want to watch the entire stream below.
Obviously, there were a lot of things covered in the nearly 90 minute stream. However, I wanted to focus on a few things that really stood out to me: the animations off the wall, the efficiency for animations, and removing the exploits users saw in previous years.
Off The Wall Animations
In previous installments, there was never any sort of guide of how to play the ball when it would hit off the wall. As a result, often times, the ball would bounce over the head of your outfielder and roll for what seemed like an eternity. Now, that’s been fixed as long as you have good defensive players. Here’s a preview of what it would look like in the game:
This is without a doubt a great addition, because it feels like it gives the user more control over their players and where to position them, rather than playing a guessing game on how to field the hit off the wall. One note from this section of the stream was that the ball will react differently to hitting different surfaces. In this instance, the ball ricochets off a brick wall, but at a place like Wrigley, known for having ivy on the outfield walls, the ball will react differently than it did in this example.
The next big point was the improvement in fielding efficiency. Because screenshots are difficult to showcase this improvement, here’s a short video from their GameStop Monday series on Twitter.
The video generally covers everything they discussed in the stream, but you can see the fielding efficiency improvements compared to prior years.
The fielding efficiency is a big deal because it allows the user to play at a quicker pace and reward those who have a great sense of reaction in the game. Especially for plays like trying to turn a double play, for example. The days of being stuck in an animation, and it costing you an out, seem to be nearing an end.
Tying into the animation efficiency, this helps crack down on the base-running exploits people could use in online play to steal runs. For example, in MLB The Show 18, let’s say there were runners on first and second and a grounder is hit to the shortstop. By the time the throw to second base was completed and then the second throw to first base, a user could score by rounding third and beating a third throw to home plate relatively easily.
That has now been eliminated. As a result of improving the efficiency of animations, users will be able to branch throws together more quickly and complete the triple play at home plate. This should hopefully cause users to have to play the game the way it’s meant to be played. However, I do understand that it is a video game, so I’m sure exploits will still be found at some point during the year.
If you would like to follow along up until launch day, here’s a look at their complete stream schedule. Their twitch information is also in the bottom right corner of the picture below.
Overall, this is a good start in my opinion. MLB The Show 17 and MLB The Show 18 were both pretty disappointing from a competitive gameplay standpoint. After today’s news, I’m feeling pretty optimistic as a fan.