The highest rated (and most accessible) baseball game on consoles is back with its latest installment that continues to push the boundaries of what a Major League Baseball game is. All of the standard modes from years past return, including Road to the Show and Franchise, some of them with brand new features. Some of the changes work and some of them don’t, and sadly some of them make MLB The Show 16 less accessible than the 2015 release.
If you’ve played MLB The Show 15 last year, read our review, or read our Game of the Year post, you will be glad to know that everything that made the game accessible has returned this year, and in some cases are vastly improved. Dynamic difficulty has been improved, with an easier way to track how far away you are from leveling up or down. New swing options get more in depth, allowing you to simply press X to swing, or set it so a flick of the joystick. However, some new features get in the way of accessibility in pretty significant ways. The biggest might be in Road to the Show mode. After creating your custom player, you’ll notice some new “Showtime” features that boil down to special skills and talents your player can utilize to make more dynamic plays. Some of these just require you to equip the skill in a menu before the game, which make for some interesting choices before the game begins.
When you’re on the field, these Showtime features boil down to quick time events. If you’re playing the infield, after fielding a ground ball, time slows down and an icon appears on the fielder’s glove that you have chosen to throw to. In order to complete the throw, you need to move the right stick until your player’s cursor lines up with the fielder’s glove, and then press the R2 button before time runs out. There is an option to turn off Showtime moments, but it doesn’t seem to turn off the throwing interface and mini game instead of reverting it to last year’s simpler fielding options. You can still turn fielding off completely, but that doesn’t make the game accessible as much as it avoids it. Plus, those fielding opportunities award your character with points needed to upgrade them, so it is strategically beneficial to play them at all costs. These new options may prevent some players from being able to complete them, and that is unfortunate.
Don’t get me wrong, MLB The Show 16 is still an incredibly accessible game, but when they set the bar as high as they have, any step backwards in accessibility is worth covering.
MLB The Show 16 has some of the most extensive hearing options available in any game of any genre. To start, there are a multitude of volume sliders, with each announcer having their own, meaning you can adjust each speaker’s volume independently, or flat out mute the people you don’t want to listen to. This level of customization extends to the stadium sounds, where crowd noise and stadium music can be adjusted. One of the best accessibility options in the game is the ability to turn on closed captioning, which scrolls the announcer’s speech as text in the bottom of the screen. It’s not needed to play the game and the font is rather small, but it is there for people who need it, and that is awesome to see.
There are some nagging visual issues carrying over from last year, including smaller font in some areas and some red/green overlapping when certain icons are hovering over the green grass of the baseball field. For a game that includes so many audio options, visual options are limited to camera angles. All of the most helpful visual options such as ball trail and defensive view options are hidden in assorted gameplay menus. In fact, the Audio/Video menu hosts exclusively audio options. These are generally minor nitpicks, but colorblind and text size options are always welcome, as well as more clarity when it comes to where the visual options are located in the extensive list of menus. Without putting visual options in a visual menu, many players that need them may not be able to find them, making the game seem much less accessible than it really is.
(The Closed Captioning option is in the Presentation menu, but not Audio/Video.)
Best baseball game on consoles, by far.
Multitude of modes keep the game fresh.
One of the most accessible sports games ever made.
Some new features make the game less accessible.