Another year, another entry in SIE San Diego's long-running MLB The Show franchise, and this time around history takes centre-stage with a new Storylines mode giving players the opportunity to learn about some of the all-time great baseball players from the Negro Leagues. It’s undoubtably the highlight of an outing that underwhelms in some places but, when all’s said and done, still manages to serve up an excellent overall package.
Let's start with what it whiffs, and MLB The Show 23 once again fails to address a few issues that have been fairly long-standing with the game at this point, with both its Franchise and Road to the Show modes doing little to really make themselves stand out over previous entries, and they continue to take a firm back seat to the centre-piece offering of Diamond Dynasty. That’s not to say getting involved with either of these modes is a total let-down, they’re still perfectly fine and functional, it’s just that it all feels a little flat and uninvolved in terms of both presentation and with regards to reasons to stick at it in comparison to both DD and the new Storylines offering.
It really does now feel as though MLB The Show, as good as it can look and sound in places, is due a little bit of an overhaul too, we need a little more life and variety in the lines of commentary doled out by the paring of Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton, and something more along the lines of NBA 2K's narrative-driven MyPlayer when it comes to the lacklustre Road to the Show mode. This in particular is an aspect of the game that should be engaging players much more than it does right now but, with nothing in terms of a story to get involved in, and the fact you can sign up to your dream team from the get-go, it feels like it lacks bite and doesn’t provide the impetus to make us really stick in and get involved in the long term. Between games there’s next to nothing to do here and so you’re left with simply blasting through matches and being returned to an underwhelming locker-room.
Franchise mode also feels as though it’s treading water in many regards. Again, it’s still a perfectly competent mode, MLB The Show 23 plays a great game after all, nothing about that has changed, there’s plenty of options and difficulty settings to tinker with and yes, a new fog of war mechanic has been added to make the draft feel a little more exciting, but it still feels as though it’s playing second fiddle to the big money mode that is Diamond Dynasty.
And really, as with FIFA and NBA 2K, it’s this card collecting, team-building aspect of the game that, understandably, gets most of the attention here. Diamond Dynasty is absolutely where most people are going to spend the majority of their time, and it’s a fantastic mode that’s been further enhanced this year by the fact you can earn lots of top cards by just playing the game. Indeed, 2023’s offering really is quite generous with how it dishes out high-powered players and sweet cosmetics, meaning that you’re less likely to have to stump up real world money for stubs to stay in contention, unless you really want to. We mentioned in our review of last year’s outing that slipping further into pay-to-win territory would be bad news for this part of the game and, thankfully, it seems SIE San Diego Studios has been paying attention to fans as it’s more generous with its rewards than ever.
However, this year it’s been the all-new Storylines mode that’s impressed us the most. It may be Diamond Dynasty that keeps us hooked over the long term, but this thoroughly educational trip through the history of the Negro Leagues has been nothing short of enthralling. Narrated by Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Museum, this is just the first chapter in what we assume will be a long-running venture, and it’s one that's jam-packed full of fun and informative gameplay. Getting to know the line-up of great baseball players included here is excellent stuff that’s enhanced by plenty of background detail, archive footage, press clippings and lively narration that sets you up perfectly as you’re invited to take control of the likes of Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Andrew “Rube” Foster, and Buck O’Neil during some of the highlights of their career.
We love how certain aspects of these players are fed into the gameplay here, with Satchel Paige’s various nicknames for his pitches appearing onscreen for you to choose from and plenty of bespoke animations included to bring these baseball greats back to life. It’s cracking stuff, exactly the kind of informative and entertaining thing we love to see and absolutely the highlight and surprise of this year’s MLB The Show offering.
Away from all of this and, well, it’s business as usual really. MLB The Show 23 gives you tons of options with regards to how you want to play, with everyone from absolute beginners to stalwart fans catered to through its comprehensive range of difficulty modes, control setups and accessibility options. In terms of presentation, while we do think it’s probably time for a revamp of certain aspects, this is still a good-looking game that runs perfectly at 4K/60FPS on Series X. The soundtrack, this year featuring the likes of Metallica, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest and Juice WRLD, is an absolute banger too.
Another fine entry in the franchise all things told then, 2023's outing may play it disappointingly safe when it comes to its Road to the Show and Franchise modes, but Diamond Dynasty and Storylines pick up the slack and, at the end of the day, this is still the premier baseball sim on Xbox consoles.
MLB The Show 23 plays it safe with regards to its Road to the Show and Franchise modes, with both of these aspects in need of a good old-fashioned revamp at this stage in the game. However, Diamond Dynasty is a total blast that very wisely chooses to be generous with its rewards, whilst the all-new Storylines mode introduces a thoroughly entertaining and educational journey through The Negro Leagues that's been our absolute highlight of the package so far this year. With the series' top-notch core gameplay and wealth of control and accessibility options helping to smooth over the rough of a few lacklustre modes, this is another super solid entry in the franchise.
I've always wanted to play a rounders game.
may as well give it a go seeing as it's on game pass
I really don't understand how these card collecting games are the main game of these sports games. Aren't you playing the sports game to simulate a sports game, not play a tabletop card game? Seems so strange to me.
Can’t wait to play, was tempted to pay for early access but I regretted it last year lol Diamond Dynasty is so refreshing compared to other games with similar modes (hello EA & 2K) The career mode whilst a bit stale now is still very fun to play.
@NEStalgia I can’t even imagine what this looks like, having never played a baseball game in my life. It sounds so strange indeed.
I would still like to give it a try since it’s on GP, but just as with Madden it feels so overwhelming to start it as an absolute rookie, especially since there’s often so much combinations to learn with sports games.
Its locked n loaded on my series s. Used to be a yearly mlb the show buyer, but fell off about 6 years ago.
@Darude84 FWIW you don't need to interact with the Diamond Dynasty card game at all. Road to the Show "campaign" is stale but not if it's your first time with the game, and multiplayer is fine all without the card game. But it does seem like the "big" part of the game for most is the card game which is just crazy to me!
And we have another great vintage 🤗
MLB: The Show has fallen into the exact same rut the Madden franchise became infamous for: a developer with a market monopoly who's able to rest on their laurels, never bothering to make any real improvements from year to year. Couple that with the fact that as long as there's a last-gen version to make there's no incentive to truly push the presentation for the newer hardware, and you have an IP that's stuck in increasing mediocrity. And one that I plan to skip yet again this year.
It says "EA's NBA 2K", but I don't think that is correct. EA has nothing to do with 2K, not that I could see on the EA Wikipedia entry anyway...
Yay, a rounders simulator.
@sjb2016 My bad! Has been amended. Every time I think of NBA 2K my brain says EA, I can't help it.
@PJOReilly no worries. To be honest, I thought I might have missed an acquisition as EA hasn't updated NBA Live since 2019, so thought maybe they had bought 2k and stopped producing NBA Live. Doesn't matter, the only NBA game ever worth playing was NBA Jam on the SNES.
Nope just old age making a fool of me again 😅
Has long loading times and still has the input problem where the controller can suddenly stop working (on XB1 at least).
Sony should keep their trash off Xbox.
@NEStalgia it's simulating fantasy sports.
@Fishticon Isn't that like playing a VR game that simulates using a VR headset?
@NEStalgia No. A better example is it's like an RPG. The cards are character sheets or Pokemon that you trade.
So on the surface they're sports games, but they have a meta game RPG tied to them , if you wanna play that way.
It can be fun to draft your team from a pool, and then try to do trades for other cards.
But I personally don't see the fun in actually spending money on those cards since they have no real value, and sports games are essentially arcade games that require a high level of skill and strategy.
Anyone having issues from transferring their Franchise from 22 into 23? I have the cloud save, I can see it in Show 22, but not in Show 23.
Went online and the website is less helpful than a paper bag in the rain.
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