The genre of sports sim video games is marred by annual titles that strut out the same bugged or predatory experiences that players have been dealing with for years. San Diego Studio has managed to deliver a yearly baseball sim that skirts a lot of these issues with its MLB The Show franchise. While it has its lingering issues, The Show beautifully captures the sport of baseball and the culture surrounding it. This remains true for MLB The Show 23, bolstered by the addition of The Negro Leagues and some neat new features.
MLB The Show 23 once again features an array of game modes for players to enjoy its baseball simulation gameplay. The Exhibition and Online Rated modes offer the most traditional experience, allowing you to control a full team through all nine innings against the CPU, a friend, or random opponent. While not much has changed here, I’m always impressed by the deep system that San Diego Studio has built. The seamless transition from hitting to baserunning and from pitching to fielding. The ability to control multiple players simultaneously in a way that doesn’t feel clunky or overcomplicated. Even as someone who doesn’t sink hundreds of hours into The Show every year, it’s always easy to pick up and get back into the rhythm.
While MLB The Show’s gameplay remains tactful and crisp, I had some inconsistent experiences when playing against other players online. Outside of a few exceptions, there was a noticeable latency that made it much harder to time my swings and pitches. It was frustrating during clutch sequences.
MLB The Show 23 also brings back the beloved Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty game modes. Road to the Show is the career mode in which you start as a player on a AA team and work your way up through AAA and eventually the Major Leagues. I love that progression is tied to performance instead of virtual currency. This time around, the MLB The Show Companion App can be used to upload a face scan of yourself into the game, a nice touch as I personalized my player.
Diamond Dynasty is MLB’s version of the “build your team” game mode, where you can customize your logo, uniforms, stadium, and build a roster of past and present MLB stars. The novelty of seeing players like Derek Jeter, Cedric Mullins, and Shohei Ohtani on the field together never wears off, and I enjoyed completing the plethora of CPU challenges and taking my team online.
Regardless of what mode you’re playing in MLB The Show, you’re constantly unlocking content to be used in other modes. While I appreciate the synergy, it was a bit annoying to be rewarded with items and gear for modes that I didn’t play. I also found that MLB The Show still suffers from the same weird UI setup that’s been in the game for years now. While in Road to the Show, I had to scroll over two pages and dig through multiple submenus just to access the packs I had earned through completing challenges. It took me a while to figure this out on my own, and it feels like something so pertinent to progression should be much more visible while I’m in the clubhouse.
The biggest change in MLB The Show 23 is the addition of The Negro Legues, a new mode that tells the stories of baseball greats during the segregation era in America, where they were forced to play in a separate league than their white counterparts. Created in association with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, this mode walks players through key moments in the careers of baseball legends like Hank Thompson and Satchel Paige, tasking them with completing gameplay challenges in order to move forward.
Not only is The Negro Leagues mode a faithful recreation of legendary moments in the history of the sport, it’s also a beautiful educational tool that highlights the unsung heroes of Major League Baseball, the ones who paved the way for Black players today while dealing with discrimination at every turn. It’s a welcome addition to The Show and I hope the developers expand on this idea in future entries.
A solid changeup
MLB The Show 23 is another solid addition in what is the best annual sports sim franchise. San Diego Studio continues to show a deep knowledge and understanding of baseball and the culture surrounding it. The addition of The Negro Leagues is a massive improvement to the overall product, and the ability to scan your face into Road to the Show is a fun new feature as well. Outside of some minor league woes, MLB The Show is another grand slam.
This review is based on an Xbox Series X code provided by PlayStation Studios. MLB The Show 23 is available now for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.
MLB The Show 23
- Gameplay is still intuitive and satisfying
- The Negro Leagues is a beautiful new addition
- Diamond Dynasty is still an endless well of content and customization
- Face scans for Road to the Show
- Latency in online matches
- Menu design could use some work