The improved and the flawed.
When MLB The Show 16 released in March of the same year, I found myself avoiding the Diamond Dynasty online multiplayer mode this time around (it was introduced last year). This was for good reason. I quit MLB The Show 15 due to the lag, inconsistency, offensive nature, and all around bollocks of the multiplayer. I believe I played close to 400 games before I finally threw in the metaphorical towel.
If you’re unaware of what Diamond Dynasty mode is for The Show, I’ll explain. Introduced last season as a card collecting-esque game, Diamond Dynasty allows the player to construct a team of baseball cards to play against other players online. Each MLB team has about 40 cards, each with different ratings. For example, the first diamond I obtained from a drop was Miguel Cabrera, whose card was a 99 rating (the highest, a diamond rank). By completing team decks or other objectives, you can unlock team legend cards (for example, Kenny Lofton was the ’15 legend card for the Cleveland Indians upon completing the deck).
Your personal deck consists of five starting pitchers, a full nine-man batting/field lineup, a handful of bench players, and a bullpen. Your opponent is matched based on your rating and division, which are both calculated by your wins and losses and, I believe, the rating of your opponent. Playing a game is simple; your starting pitcher is randomly selected, and you have the option of adjusting your lineup based on whether your opponent’s pitcher is a righty or lefty. Once in game, each skirmish plays out like a regular ball game in The Show. You play nine innings of baseball (into extras if necessary), utilizing your players as you see fit.
In last year’s iteration, lag desecrated most of the minimal enjoyment I found in The Show. Sony Santa Monica has a done an excellent job in this year’s version, especially in terms of lag (which I’ve experienced almost none of since recent updates). With directional hitting set to on, in fact, I find myself being able to compete at a high level. My pitching is pretty damn solid, and, now that my offense can hit, I can scratch across approximately 3-6 runs and allow two or less. In other words, my enjoyment level is at an almost all-time high. My current record is about 75-35.
But that doesn’t remove the negatives to the Diamond Dynasty gameplay. The three greatest offenders are still present, and I hope Sony takes a listen. First – get rid of the damn created players. They harm the overall experience. In Diamond Dynasty, anyone can create a playable character and name him anything. By feeding that character duplicate or unwanted/high level cards, you can increase the created character’s peripherals exponentially. At some point, the character becomes a maxed out 99 rating. My biggest issue with this particular feature is that a player could slot the made up 99 into the catcher or pitcher role, which thus creates an insane advantage. If slotted into a starting pitcher, the created character often has five good pitches, with some ranging into the high-90s, 100s – a difficult pitch to hit. If created as a catcher, the player then becomes the fastest catcher in the history of baseball with a 99 speed. When compared with, say, Victor Martinez (I know he hasn’t caught in years, but give me a break), whose speed is an 11, you can begin to see why that could be troublesome. Not only this, but the created character gives the user an unbeatable advantage in hitting (especially in a pitching role), as his power and contact come completely maxed.
Offensive names or emblems – whether they be team, created character, etc. – are way too pertinent in The Show. I remember being reported (I think because I beat someone, and they were upset) and being upset that Sony actually sent me a warning. Countless players display their ignorance by posting an emblem of a swastika or naming their characters a name equally offensive. Combined with the announcer names like ‘Big Daddy Dick’ or something similar, you can see why this would be a problem, especially if a child was playing. And let me clarify that, while I did receive a warning, I never saw an offensive team/character name adjusted.
Finally, The Show allows players to disconnect. If disconnected, The Show will automatically tag that person with a loss (and you with a win), as well as give them a completely useless card item (usually you receive some sort of card). It’s great that a player is punished for purposefully disconnecting, but it doesn’t do enough to prevent those rage quitters. By the 3rd inning, if a player has decided whether I can dominate him/her, he/she will, almost assuredly, promptly disconnect from the game.
The simple fix for the created character and offensive emblems/names exists in the shape of not letting these issues exist. If you take away the created character segment of Diamond Dynasty (feel free to keep it in Road to the Show), the naming snafu would be altogether avoided – and the cheap pitcher or catcher character can be sidestepped, too. Fixing the disconnecting problem isn’t as pressing as the aforementioned issues, but it’s still present and could stand to be addressed, though I understand the near-impossibility of that task.
Still, I find myself hooked right back in to Diamond Dynasty. I love collecting each team’s cards and building my team. I love the strategy involved in pitching, and I have a great time hitting. Connection issues are no longer prevalent, which has really saved this game for me. I highly recommend The Show for any baseball fanatic, as it will offer hours upon hours of enjoyment and fun.
Plus, in The Show, Cleveland is usually a winner.