“MLB The Show 20” fills the sports void in trying times

The fifteenth installment of the popular video game franchise offers an escape for baseball fans in quarantine.

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Major League Baseball lives on.

  Well, not in the sense you may initially imagine. 

  While COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the globe, all major sports leagues in the U.S have been either suspended or cancelled. This means that the MLB, the oldest of the “Big Four” pro sports leagues, will not see Opening Day until at least June at the earliest. But why do we need real baseball games and players, when there’s a pixelated alternative right at our fingertips, available without breaking quarantine?

  MLB The Show 20, the fifteenth installment of the wildly-popular baseball simulation series, released worldwide on March 17th. As it does annually, this year’s game brings updated rosters, gameplay, gamemodes, and interfacing to baseball gamers everywhere. But where previous editions have fallen short, The Show 20 appears to be batting 1.000.

  Arguably the most important aspect of any video game, gameplay makes or breaks a The Show title. As we have seen in The Show 17 and The Show 19, hitting mechanics can be quite hard to perfect. In the former, late swings were heavily rewarded with extra base hits and home runs, while in the latter, excellent swings were punished with costly lineouts.

  But in The Show 20, both of those issues have been put to rest by a new feature dubbed “Perfect-Perfect.” Superior bat placement and timing are now rewarded with high velocity hits, paying huge dividends to those with hitting prowess.

  On the defensive side of things, a new “Extreme Catch Indicator” has been added in order to make great fielders stand out from the rest. If there’s an opportunity for an incredible play in the outfield, the game’s best will succeed, while the rest will… focus their talents elsewhere.

  As a whole, fielding has been restored to an area of importance when constructing your team. In previous years, truly-elite defenders did not hold much value, because they played the same as everyone else, regardless of fielding talent.

  For example, Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics, arguably the best defensive first baseman in the league, made the same plays as 90’s slugger Frank Thomas, who had a 57/100 fielding rating. That is no longer the case; the defensively-inept will quickly display their inability to field a baseball.

  Another one of the most anticipated aspects of The Show games is the addition of new legends. Over the past three years, the game has revealed Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie McCovey, Vida Blue, Bob Gibson, Vladimir Guerrero, Willie Mays, and even Cy Young himself as playable characters. This year, three of the most notable additions are Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Mariano Rivera, and rival Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

  The final headlining addition to The Show 20 is a new submode titled Showdown. Located in the game’s Diamond Dynasty mode, you have a ten-round draft, where you choose from four players in each round. Then, you take on small in-game challenges called “moments” with your team, and if you’re successful, you get to add another player to the squad. The process repeats until the final battle, where a victory secures handsome rewards, but a failure resets all of your prior progress.

  While the game of baseball takes a few months off from the diamond, MLB The Show 20 will satisfy your desire for baseball action, without ever having to leave the couch recliner.