Also on: PS4, Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE San Diego Studio
I don?t think I?ve ever gone into an edition of MLB The Show with less of a sense of anticipation than I had going into MLB The Show 22.
Even though it?s easily my most-played franchise, the past year-plus has been brutal on my once-intense baseball fandom. While a lot of this is because Major League Baseball has tried its hardest to alienate its fanbase, my intense dislike of MLB The Show 21 certainly didn?t help matters. Whereas I sunk hours upon hours into previous versions of the game, the moment I finished reviewing MLB The Show 21, I deleted it and never thought about it again. Even if it was technically a well-made game, between the way it ruined Road to the Show, went all-in on Diamond Dynasty, and took every opportunity to show you ads for microtransactions, I loathed everything about it.
MLB The Show 22 is?better. I wouldn?t go so far as to say it?s amazing, or that it?s rekindled my passion for baseball (as long as Rob Manfred is still commissioner, that?s probably not possible), but it?s improved enough over last year?s effort that I can at least say it?s tolerable.
This is largely because they?ve largely fixed the problems that plagued last year?s Road to the Show. No longer do you have to go to a completely separate mode to create your player; now you just get to create him when you start up RTTS. They still want you to spend real money in the marketplace for absolutely absurd add-ons, and they still have the ludicrous ?loadouts for your player?s skills, but they?ve made it much easier to ignore both of those things.
What?s more, MLB The Show 22 also makes it much, much easier to create your two-way player in RTTS. Where before they made you jump through hoops ? and even then, made it hard for your player to qualify for both batting and pitching leaderboards ? this time, you just get to do it.
My feelings towards one of the other notable changes in this year?s edition is a little more mixed. For the first time in more than a decade, Matt Vasgersian is no longer handling play-by-play duties. As someone who?s heard him say the same thing over and over again for literally hundreds of hours, that?s undoubtedly a welcome change.
Unfortunately, the new play-by-play team isn?t exactly an upgrade. Jon “Boog” Sciambi is much more excitable ? and if you?re going to put a significant amount of time into the game, that?s probably going to become very grating, very quickly. What?s more, he and his partner, Chris Singleton, don?t have nearly the same amount of recorded dialogue, which means they start repeating themselves after a very short time.
As for the rest of MLB the Show 22, it very much feels like a yearly iteration rather than a massive change. There?s still no single season mode, but both Franchise Mode and March to October are present ? and while I?ll still lament that the former doesn?t allow you to create an expansion team (and no, subbing in one team for another doesn?t count), it?s nonetheless fun that both modes allow you to play around with your rosters.
Diamond Dynasty is also still here.
As you can probably tell, I?m not a fan. It?s obviously nowhere near, say, NBA 2K levels of monetization, and there?s definitely a step back from last year?s edition of MLB The Show where seemingly everything was pushing you to play Diamond Dynasty, but even still, I can?t even pretend to be interested in it. It feels like they?ve beefed up the offline mode, which is nice ? but not nice enough to make me give it more than a cursory glance.
If it seems like I?m being stingy or qualified with my criticism?well, that?s because I am. While MLB The Show 22 is definitely a step up from last year?s game, it?s pretty clear that the years of the franchise setting the bar for other sports games are behind us. That said, the fixes they?ve made after last year?s soulless debacle are enough that I expect I?ll be spending quite a bit of time with this game over the next 12 months or so ? which is a pretty big step up from what I was expecting when I started playing it.
Sony Interactive Entertainment provided us with an MLB The Show 22 PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.