There’s a limit to the amount of development that can happen on a game in a single year, and MLB The Show 22 is the perfect example of what that wall can look like. This year’s entry in Sony San Diego’s annualized baseball series plays as well as ever and looks great, but the limitations imposed by its rigid release schedule are also more apparent than ever. A new co-op mode is a welcome addition and an already solid stadium builder has been well developed, but the technical issues are also more lingering than previous editions. MLB The Show 22 is still a very good game of baseball – it’s just starting to show signs that it might be time to call a reliever.
The realistic recreation of Major League shows in MLB The Show 22 is just as impressive as last year. There’s a cinematic quality to the way the player-controlled action is framed, with intros, outros, overlay graphics, and the deep pool of stats baseball fans expect. Lovingly detailed recreations of real-world ballparks also look stunning in 4K. The lighting is particularly amazing; real baseball games take place over several hours, and the in-game transition from sunset to a fully lit stadium against the night sky is wonderful. Sunny afternoon shadows give way to 360-degree illumination as the sun goes down, and it’s easy to forget that what you see on screen is still just 1s and 0s on a hard disc.
MLB The Show 22 Gameplay Screenshots
There’s a whole new broadcast team bringing their voices to the series this year: Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Chris Singleton replaced the team led by Matt Vasgersian as the game’s announcers. the new vocals are refreshing after many years of the same crew. However, the number of unique lines of dialogue is noticeably lower than before, and lines repeat more frequently than before. There’s only been a limited number of times I’ve heard the same bad joke about the ball “just not carrying first” before wanting to cut the announcers off completely. It also leads to confusing holes in dialogue, like when Ken Griffey Jr., who appears with spoken lines in the Road to the Show campaign, is only referred to as “Number 24” when playing as him in games.
MLB The Show’s strength has traditionally been in its versatility, and that’s no different here. Controls can be simple, with automatic basic travel, one-button steps, and easy typing – or they can be complex, with multi-part joystick movements for pitching and precision typing. The former is easier to execute, but the latter will yield better results if done well, incentivizing and rewarding you for trying to develop your skills without excluding those who want to have a more relaxed involvement.
Likewise, Franchise mode can be played in great detail, with minor league call-ups, drafting, scouting, and micromanaging budgets, or all of which can be set to automatic while you focus on the games themselves. same. You have several ways to right the historical wrongs that have prevented your favorite team from winning a championship and becoming a perennial powerhouse. It’s a design feat to be able to cater to user needs from the casual to the hardcore, but MLB The Show continues to set the standard to cater to diverse tastes.
That said, while Major League Baseball is nearly 150 years old, The Show still lags behind this ancient sporting institution in a few key areas. New rules extending the designated hitter to the entire league will take effect starting in the 2022 season, but they are not reflected here. This is especially disappointing when it comes to two-way players, including The Show 22 cover athlete Shohei Ohtani, who is a revelation as both an elite pitcher and hitter. In real-world baseball, this rule change allows him to function as both a designated hitter and a starting pitcher, allowing him to be relieved as a pitcher while remaining in the game as a batter. Unfortunately, MLB The Show does not have the capacity to make the same allocation. It’s the kind of problem that one hopes can be fixed in an update, but right out of the box it’s a swing and a miss.
Online co-op is one of the main new editions of 2022, allowing you to form teams for 2v2 or 3v3 competitions across all platforms, either with friends or through random matchmaking. Players on each team alternate batters while at the plate and alternate between pitching and fielding each inning, and being able to focus solely on defensive duty is liberating. While one person plays cat and mouse with pitch selection, the other can focus on where to go for forced outs and make strategic choices around the diamond. There’s a joyful excitement to stepping up the plate with a friend on base, knowing they’re counting on you to make the move that gets them in for a key run.
However, there are also some limits to cooperation. You can play random games or in a limited Diamond Dynasty playlist, but there are no persistent teams or co-op leagues. You also can’t choose your opponents, so the only way to play against friends is luck in matchmaking. Rotation of defensive roles is also mandatory, forcing you to switch even if one player only wants to throw while the other only wants to play. I played a game with a random teammate who was a really solid hitter and defender, but their struggles on the mound doomed us as our opponents made multiple runs every two innings. In its current iteration, co-op feels more like a fun proof of concept than a fully fleshed out mode suitable for online competition.
Co-op games often failed to connect me with cross-platform friends when we were also trying to play together, and all sorts of technical issues were unfortunately common in my time with The Show 22. Players would sometimes walk towards the frozen dugout in strange poses , tutorials I had disabled in settings still appeared, I had to restart multiple times after crashes, and online matches of all kinds were prone to random disconnects. The stability I usually expect from The Show has taken a noticeable hit, which is a real shame.
Diamond Dynasty mode will be familiar to series veterans, allowing you to assemble teams made up of players from across baseball history, collected through random card packs, and compete against other teams made up of players. The concept is well established in sports games, but the execution in The Show has been and remains excellent. Programs return as the Battle Pass replaces: you rack up XP by playing one of The Show’s various modes, unlocking rewards as you level up. Stubbs are your main currency for buying packs, which you can again buy with real money, but you also earn them at a reasonable rate regardless. I focused on completing daily challenges called “Moments” and was able to earn XP and Stubbs at a rate that didn’t require me to spend any money. In no time, I could relive the Seattle Mariners glory days of the 90s, with Ken Griffey Jr. patrolling the outfield while Randy Johnson’s ornate golden mullet attacked hitters with relentless fastballs .
A new mini-season mode is a very welcome single-player activity for your Diamond Dynasty squad, allowing you to pit them against seven CPU-controlled teams in a 28-game season, complete with a miniature playoff at the end. Between this and the return of the turn-based strategy Conquest mode, it feels like we’ve reached a point where it’s possible to have a rewarding Diamond Dynasty experience for players who’d rather not take on the Wild West. of random human opponents.
On the other hand, the Road to the Show story mode is no different from previous versions, but it continues to be one of the best modes in all sports games. Playing as a created prospect, following your player on their journey to the big leagues as you increase RPG-like baseball stats, is addictive. Games often only take a few minutes and it’s hard to resist the urge to play just one more game, especially when you can see the ball well and make solid contact as a hitter. The few games per game I spent on defense, framing throws, and knocking down base stealers as a catcher were great palette cleaners between bats, and stat-building minigames holidays are rewarding. It still takes too long to go from double-A to triple-A and so on, but Road to the Show is much more about the journey than the destination.
The stadium builder is back exclusively for PS5 and Xbox Series X players | S, sadly leaving The Show’s Switch debut slightly incomplete. The user interface has been changed and building your dream ballpark is a smoother experience now that props can be quickly called up from a radial menu. Your custom-built stadium can now be played day or night, and placing lights is surprisingly strategic. Premade templates can speed up the process, and a great mix of serious and humorous pieces gives you the freedom to create both classic ballparks and outright monstrosities. I built a stadium with alien spaceships and a carefully lit herd of T-rexes (for safety) just because I could. This is a great example of a feature starting one year and improving moderately but significantly the next.