MLB The Show 18‘s Road to the Show is looking to improve on last year’s (already solid) entry in pretty much every single way by looking to RPGs for inspiration. But the best part is that there are no microtransactions.
One of the most annoying things about some modern sports games is how microtransactions have invaded create-a-character career modes, with NBA 2K18‘s MyCareer mode taking the trophy for its cynical dependence on virtual currency. Fortunately, MLB The Show 18 seems to be taking the, um, high road by forgoing training points and stubs in its Road to the Show mode, leaving player progression entirely up to player performance. There will still be microtransactions in some of the game’s other modes, but not in what should be a complete single-player experience out of the box.
This decision to remove microtransactions seems like it will service MLB The Show 18‘s Road to the Show’s more RPG-like elements. Players will start their careers as mid-to-late round draft picks by choosing one of several archetypes for their created players, and each archetype will come with strengths and weaknesses. The Wizard archetype will have great speed and fielding abilities but lack in power at the plate (perfect at shortstop or second base), while the Power Corner archetype will hit homers and have a good glove but won’t move as fast (think a solid first baseman or right fielder). Each archetype will also come with sub-archetypes. allowing players to better determine their character’s specific abilities.
These archetypes will determine the limits of your character’s attributes, as some attributes will have caps, meaning you can no longer max out your player with 99s in every category. The attribute that’s capped depends on which archetype you’ve chosen. Mr. Reliable archetypes will be able to max out contact hitting attributes and plate vision, but will be lacking in the power categories. These specific, RPG-like decisions might not be new to sports sims in general, but they definitely add a new layer of depth to the decisions you’ll make in MLB The Show 18.
Where MLB The Show 18 does innovate (at least in the sports genre) is in how your created character will increase their attributes. Taking a page out of Skyrim, the only way to increase your character’s attributes is by having them perform actions that relate to those attributes. Fielding grounders and accurately throwing out runners will increase attributes related to your glove, while hitting doubles or homers will increase your plate power. Of course, the downside to this is that your attributes can decrease if you don’t perform, giving weight to every play your character makes. You can also improve your character’s attributes at Focus Training facilities that will let you run exercises to improve your character’s abilities.
Aesthetic customization will also see an improvement with more realistic hair and skin, and a Batting Stance Creator, which lets you fine-tune your character’s stance to make it uniquely yours.
Overall, it looks like MLB The Show 18‘s developers are really paying attention to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sports sim career modes. We’ll find out for ourselves when the game launches for PlayStation 4 on March 27th.