Franchise, likewise, is about the same, although there’s one clear new addition that could excite some players. You can now create custom teams to take the place of the Miami Marlins or Texas Rangers, or any of the other 28 teams. In practice, that means changing the team name and colors, as well as creating or downloading a new logo. It’s the same setup as creating your team in the card-collecting Diamond Dynasty mode. That’s the extent of customization, as you must still pick a ballpark that’s already in the game for this team to call home. This is not an expansion team, mind you, only one that takes the place of a real franchise.
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Developer: SIE San Diego Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Diamond Dynasty, perhaps equal to RTTS in the general mode hierarchy among The Show players, actually has a good deal of new content this time out. Showdown, a new way to play in DD, creates quick teams in a similar manner to the returning Battle Royale. The key difference between the two is that Showdown involves competing against CPU opponents. Stubs, The Show’s currency, and cards to boost your regular DD team remain the incentive, and it’s great for those who don’t like to get owned by the real pros who populate Battle Royale, Ranked Seasons, and likely the new Events — which features limited-time challenges against other players.
Showdown plays similarly to a collection of scenarios featuring your quick-drafted team, with objectives that can be as simple as “Strike out 1 batter in the first inning, but don’t give up a run” on Rookie difficulty. Depending on the selected Showdown, the challenge will ramp up from there and can cost stubs as an entry fee, but the rewards are worth the risk for those skilled enough.
One last returning mode received some love: March to October. Introduced last year as a more efficient way to play a single season by placing players in late-game situations or player-locked challenges, MTO now is a bit more intelligent in selecting high-leverage scenarios to take over. Dynamic difficulty becomes an option this year, as does the ability to make late-season call-ups and more chances for in-season trades — maybe too many trades, in my experience, but I’m not complaining. Rewards, too, are more plentiful and scaled to the difficulty of the challenge. If you play as the lowly Kansas City Royals, you don’t need to win the World Series to score some in-game prizes, but doing so would net you even more.
Custom Leagues is the signature brand new addition outside of returning modes, but don’t get too excited. This is not to be mistaken with the former Online Franchise mode. In Custom Leagues, four to 30 players can band together and play seasons of customized lengths and setups. It’s nice in theory, but it doesn’t seem to work very well unless your league consists of friends who can plan together. As someone playing with three other random strangers, my only option is to send a challenge to another online player from my league to face me. If they fail to respond, I can’t play. I’ve yet to actually compete in the mode, so I wouldn’t want to declare this mode a dud. Just be aware of its limitations.