Sports video games often fall into the trap of simply tweaking graphics or updating rosters, but MLB The Show 23 aims to do more. San Diego Studio knew they needed to do something to break up the mundanity of yearly releases, and they delivered.
MLB The Show 23 has long been the premier baseball game franchise. The core concepts that make it great like excellent gameplay and realistic portrayal of baseball are just as great in this iteration of the series. Jumping into a 9-inning game had the same familiar feel and was easy to pick right back up. There is something to be said about the simplicity of baseball and the way MLB The Show 23 brings it to life on the screen. There are some issues with rosters and player availability in the early days since launch, but the existence of custom rosters helps mitigate that. Official updates are expected soon since the MLB season has only recently just started, but not having key players available right from the start was more than a little frustrating.
Road to the Show returns in MLB The Show 23, giving players a chance to create their own baseball player and try to take them from the dregs of the minor leagues up to the majors. The only real change with Road to the Show is the addition of a new face scan feature that lets players put their own face on their created player. It had mixed results from the tests I did, but overall it was a nice neat little addition. There wasn’t really a need for anything else major to change in Road to the Show since it’s already a well-made mode that didn’t need reinventing.
One mode that did desperately need some love is the Franchise mode. While it didn’t receive the overhaul I was hoping for, the new scouting system is a much-needed improvement. Additional scouting options and revamped prospect generation gives players a much better chance at unearthing some real future talent. Or, in my case, thinking you found the next big thing only for them to fail big time. More players can be scouted, and more from younger ages as well, but you won’t know their final rating until you draft and sign them so still be careful.
Diamond Dynasty is the real jewel of MLB The Show 23, and some slight tweaks this year make it even better than before. The competitive modes now feature a seasonal system that rotates in usable players. The goal here is that you won’t have to come up against the same exact lineups for the next year, and it will introduce some genuine variety to online play. High-rated players are also available earlier on now, so each season will let players create a top-rated squad without having to play non-stop for months to grind out a chance at top players. The new captain mechanic allows even more variety when it comes to team construction, with captain players giving some serious stat boosts to other captain series players.
The real highlight of MLB The Show 23, however, is the new Storylines: The Negro Leagues mode. Presented by Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick, the mode gives players a look at some of the greatest players to ever play the game like Leroy “Satchel” Page and Jackie Robinson. It also features players that never did get a chance to play in Major League Baseball like Andrew “Rube” Foster.
Each player storyline has a combination of archival footage and in-game animation that tells their unique stories and allows Kendrick a chance to spread the knowledge of one of baseball’s most ignored times in history. There are a handful of in-game moments players get to participate in and completing all of these moments will unlock a player card to use in Diamond Dynasty.
The Negro Leagues have only recently been given any real attention by the league, so it was a major decision for MLB The Show 23 to make it such an important part of the game. Virtually everyone knows the stories of players that became legends in an integrated era of baseball like Page and Robinson, but I was able to learn so much about players I had never even heard of. It is also incredibly obvious how personal this opportunity to share their legacy is to Kendrick, which made the experience even more enjoyable.
MLB The Show 23 builds on the formula San Diego Studio has spent years perfecting. Scouting updates for Franchise mode and the new Diamon Dynasty seasonal approach help revitalize modes that were starting to grow stale. The Negro Leagues Storylines also give an important look at a buried era of baseball that is thankfully being brought back into the light. Fans of baseball are in for a treat yet again with MLB The Show 23.
MLB The Show 23 is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Game Pass, and the Nintendo Switch.
MLB The Show 23
MLB The Show 23 does enough to revamp an excellent formula, while the Storylines: Negro Leagues mode serves as an important history lesson within the confines of the game.