MLB The Show 21 Review

Finally, we get to experience the worlds most well-known baseball series on Xbox. MLB The Show 21 is not only making its Xbox debut, but also dropping day and date into Game Pass. Having not played The Show 20 I’m not sure how much the visuals have improved but this game is certainly a beautiful looking game.

On the gameplay side of things, MLB The Show 21 gives players 3 different preset settings when first loading into the game; Casual, simulation and competitive.

Casual is meant to teach new players to The Show how to play the game. It does this by giving you more help from the AI and doesn’t rely on the player’s skill set. If you want a streamlined approach to baseball this is definitely the mode for you. Simulation is the traditional MLB The Show experience. Previous players of the series will more than likely jump in at this level. Team builds and player skills will dictate how your team performs Competitive mode is for the big boys. This is how the online head to head mode is played. The game turns down the AI and aids and lets the player’s true skill shine. If you want to prove yourself as the very best then getting good in competitive mode is the way to go.

Once you have the pre-sets fixed, you can go even deeper into the 3 main aspects of the game:

Each aspect has different ways to play. For batting, you have a zone interface, directional interface and pure analog; Zone Interface is the most commonly used method. The controls for directional hitting are simpler but because of this, they offer you less accuracy and effectiveness. If you choose Pure Analog, you’ll need to follow the controls detailed above to choose a direction in the Zone and execute your swing type. If you’re struggling with the timing of using buttons for hitting, try out analog as an input type or the Pure Analog interface and see if it works better for you.

Pitching and fielding also offer you various methods for controls as well; Pinpoint utilizes a combination of gesture and timing, but if either of those two things is off your pitch can go wildly out of the zone. There’s no detailed or intricate timing to the Classic Interface, and the ball will go relatively where you tell it to each time. However, as a less precise method, it will be easier for batters to hit pitches thrown in Classic when compared to well-executed pitches in other interfaces. It’s basically what it sounds like, as you’ll make an initial press to start the Meter and stop the bar as close to the top as you can to maximize power. When the bar comes back down, there will be a sweet spot to stop it at which will control how accurately thrown the pitch ends up being.

Pulse Pitching will begin in the same way other interfaces do, but this time you’ll be challenged to nail a single button press for timing. Power won’t come into play based on your input, but you need to press the correct button at the smallest possible point to get perfect accuracy.

Now you’ve got how to play the game out the way, the game offers a variety of different game modes for you to get your teeth into. Road To The Show is the career mode of the game. It sees you starting your own “two-way player” and working your way through the minors up to the big leagues. Diamond Dynasty is the ultimate team game mode in the MLB The Show series. It allows players to build a team of superstars from the past and present, and battle it out with others for big rewards. One nice touch they have introduced this year is that you can import your Ballplayer from Road To The Show and improve them in the Diamond Dynasty mode.

March to October mode is a shorter version of the actual baseball season, which is huge. Teams play 162 games, and that doesn’t include Spring Training and Post-Season. Therefore, this is an alternative to Franchise, offering “key moments” of the season. MLB The Show 21’s March to October mode will come equipped with some new features, as it gives you better control of your roster, allowing you to use personnel from the Minor Leagues.

MLB The Show 21 does have a steep learning curve and it will take a while for you to settle on what style of control system suits you the best. As good looking as the game is, from comparing it to last years version, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of graphical improvements which is somewhat disappointing given what we have seen in other sports games on the Xbox Series X.


Overall I am blown away at how much I have enjoyed playing MLB The Show 21. I had a mild interest in baseball but I can see myself following the sport a lot closer based on how much fun I have had so far in this game. Sure it has flaws and it’s not the easiest to just pick up and play, but that all pales in comparison to the satisfaction of crushing a pitch clean out the field.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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  • Loads of things to do in the game
  • CrossPlay and Cross-Platform Progression
  • Satisfaction when your patience and practice finally come together
  • Steep Learning Curve
  • Good Looking but not groundbreaking graphics
  • Not everyone will enjoy the initial learning curve
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 8
Audio - 8
Longevity - 9

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