The Online Slump Continues

The boo-birds come out when perennial all-stars are ice cold in the opening months of the season. Fans believe these players didn’t take care of themselves in the offseason, and treated spring training like a vacation. In reality, April’s frigid weather and windy conditions impact player abilities and limit the flight of the ball. As the weather heats up, so do these players. MLB The Show 18 is the video game equivalent of the slow starter.

In previous years, Sony has patched up or stabilized the online experience as the season progressed. This year, the development team didn’t want the online experience to start out cold, but achieving this goal meant difficult cuts. In prioritizing new technology, Sony was forced to remove online franchise from this year’s game. Offline season mode is also oddly absent.

Both are gone. Did the cuts pay off? As of this writing, MLB The Show 18’s online performance has not improved over previous years. It may even be worse. Along with intermittent latency issues on the field, which can lead to players running past balls or pitches accidentally served up as meat, all online avenues of play are subject to inexplicable loss of progress.

On another day, I couldn’t locate some cards I purchased with Stubs, and wasn’t reimbursed for them. Servers are also occasionally down during peak hours, and not just for maintenance. Stability isn’t the only frustrating element of online. As much as I love seeing legendary players like Vida Blue taking on Babe Ruth, the means to obtaining these players is comical.

Getting immortal or diamond-rank players in The Show has always been a lengthy process, but it’s out of control this year. Opening a pack of cards to find hats, jerseys, bobble heads, and other unwanted things just strips away the chance of getting a player you can actually use in play. The images on the cards are also showing age. Tommy La Stella is pictured on the Braves, a team he hasn’t played for since 2014.

The Show’s troubles are mostly contained to just the online component. As usual, Sony has refined the action on the field, which is better than ever this year. New ball physics lead to a wider variety of hits and bounces, and players react to situations in more realistic ways – such as a batter holding up in the batter’s box for a brief second to see if a ball is slicing foul, or a catcher pouncing on a squibber or blocking a ball in the dirt. Catchers get out of stance much faster and can’t be exploited as easily.

Opponent A.I. is also much savvier, using more shifts and deploying different bullpen and hitting strategies for specific situations. I lost a game to a suicide squeeze in the ninth inning.

Full-motion replays also add to the broadcast presentation, even though Mark DeRosa’s color commentary is frequently repeated or too generalized. The control you have over the action is largely unchanged, but you get a better insight into what went wrong with your swing through the redesigned feedback system. The revamped ball physics lead to more hit types and player reactions, but I saw an unusual number of balls bobbled and dropped. Road to the Show received the most tweaks in terms of how progress is logged.

You must now select an archetype, which has strengths and weaknesses that are capped in specific categories. It makes more sense to hone those skills, and I love the move away from assigning experience points. All gains and losses come on the field and through training. Players get called up quicker if they are tearing it up; my Road the Show player from last year (who toiled in AA ball with a .

That’s awesome. Franchise mode is improved, not from additions, but the streamlining of menus and tasks. All aspects of managing a team are broken up into phases that cover the draft, trades, mid-season play, and more. All of these areas feature shortcuts and can be turned to manual or auto with just a click of a button.

CPU trade logic and roster management looked spot on; it's nice to see cold players getting benched for a game here and there. That's a touch I never expected to see. Load times for all avenues of play are better, and the play on the field is once again a showpiece of iteration, but the online aspect of the game – where Sony is focusing the most for additions – remains unpredictable at best and completely broken at its worst. As the season goes along, the experience will hopefully get better, but for the hardcore baseball fans that purchased the game early, it can be a nightmare.

March 29, 2018 | Source: Gameinformer