HomePLAYSTATIONThe State of Diamond Dynasty: That's Baseball™

The State of Diamond Dynasty: That’s Baseball™

“When we’ve just a few billion extra swings…in any other case the hitting engine is functioning the best way the gameplay group desires.”

When 2021 turned 2022, I discovered myself extra excited than ever for the following version of MLB The Present. That anticipation solely grew as Shohei Ohtani was revealed as the duvet athlete. Then the fabled Function Premieres started and gave us a take a look at this yr’s sport. Each week — on daily basis actually — was constructing an increasing number of anticipation main as much as launch. Now practically two months after launch, I’m barely motivated to show the sport on and wish to speak about it. Welcome to the State of Diamond Dynasty in MLB The Present 22.

Earlier than I get into the state of Diamond Dynasty in MLB The Present 22, I believe it’s necessary to notice that I’m talking particularly about Diamond Dynasty and on-line gameplay. This text doesn’t mirror views on the offline expertise outdoors of Diamond Dynasty.

New 12 months, New Recreation

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MLB The Present 22 had plenty of promise coming in. The appearance of Co-Op, the restructuring of stale Inning Applications, and a plethora of latest Legends. Serving to its trigger much more was the truth that MLB The Present 21 was a very enjoyable sport. MLB The Present 21 was the primary time since stepping into DD again in 2019 that I felt the sport was enjoyable to play on-line. Pinpoint was an enormous addition final yr and eradicated the floating meatball pitches that plagued MLB 19 and ’20. Whereas hitting wasn’t excellent, I felt it was in a very good place by the center of final summer season, and I regarded ahead to taking part in practically on daily basis. In all the net video games I performed in The Present 21, I felt the higher participant received just about on a regular basis. I didn’t really feel that manner in ’19 or ’20 and was elated that it felt extra aggressive.

I felt that SDS merely wanted to carry that gameplay ahead (apart from maybe the expanded vary in your hitting cursor, which stays in ’22) with no matter bells and whistles they wished to incorporate. New additions just like the PCI Anchor and Dynamic PCI definitely match the invoice. There’s at all times the hope that they rebuild the hitting engine or create one thing wildly completely different and higher, however I actually felt they had been in an ideal spot gameplay-wise final yr and couldn’t wait to play this yr.

From the beginning, some previous shadows had been creeping in. Throughout the first few Occasion video games of the yr, it was clear foul balls had been a serious concern. Past that, the final enhance in poor contact hits appeared regarding. Pitching felt principally the identical, albeit a bit harder, however nonetheless Pinpoint Pitching was nonetheless king. However I saved taking part in and grinding the brand new content material and was completely satisfied to be taking part in the latest model. I used to be having fun with the change in content material construction and didn’t thoughts the sweeping modifications — I touched on this in my first Program Postmortem.

Headliners Set 17 All-Star Willie Mays

Actually the one gripe I’ve with content material is the recycled playing cards. As of this writing, one of many latest Headliners card is 1963 All-Star Willie Mays. Whereas it’s superior to have a 94 general Willie Mays this early within the yr, that is the very same card featured in Workforce Affinity final yr. In different phrases, this card was free simply from grinding final yr and is a featured pack-out card this yr.

Possibly this looks as if a pointless gripe, particularly since Mays will undoubtedly get an endgame card sooner or later — all Legends sometimes do. That mentioned, SDS actually couldn’t discover a completely different yr to signify him? They might have even given him an Takashi Okazaki card with “made up” stats to maintain his general according to the present meta, and it might have been contemporary and new. As an alternative, a free card from final yr takes up a Headliners slot and we’re imagined to be enthusiastic about it. This isn’t the primary instance of recycled playing cards and received’t be the final.

In some methods it’d even be unavoidable over time. But when we take away the context of sport cycles and take a look at actual time, a free card from round 9 or 10 months in the past is now a featured pack card. It simply feels unhealthy and feels extremely lazy. However there’s loads of new gamers that didn’t see this final yr. For the remainder of us it’s simply recycled.

However I digress as a result of on the finish of the day, it doesn’t actually matter what playing cards are within the sport. Diamond Dynasty and head-to-head video games are outlined solely by gameplay and that’s an space that I really feel The Present 22 is majorly missing.

The Honeymoon Is Over

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As Could drew to an in depth, practically two full months of taking part in is greater than sufficient time to see what the sport actually seems like. SDS likes to speak about their telemetry information and we as gamers have information of our personal — the video games we play. Our private pattern sizes are in fact smaller information units, however we’ve years of expertise to check this sport to as properly. As soon as that first month handed and the novelty started to put on off, the honeymoon section with The Present 22 ended rapidly. It’s on the level now that I can’t even persuade myself it’s well worth the time to hop on-line. The consistency within the inconsistency of on-line play is frustrating, and it actually shocks me how SDS can say they’re glad. Whereas it’s good that they let issues play out firstly of the yr and didn’t overreact (many sports activities video games are too fast to patch their video games in the course of the launch home windows), it now appears like they’re not being reactive sufficient.

However SDS additionally has extra priorities than ever earlier than. The Present 22 launched on Swap this yr off the again of a first-ever Xbox launch final yr. With two new platforms and tens of millions of latest potential prospects, SDS had a large open subject to herald further income. Between copies of the sport and microtransactions, SDS has hit a window the place they’re in all probability making more cash than they ever have. Gone are the times the place they needed to cater to PlayStation gamers completely.

With these new consoles and a brand new technology of gamers studying the sport, SDS is in a tricky spot. They should hold longtime veterans of the franchise completely satisfied whereas making the sport accessible to new gamers. I do know once I began taking part in on-line in The Present 19 I used to be completely horrible. I couldn’t acknowledge pitches to save lots of my life and struggled to hit in a lot of the video games I performed. However I saved taking part in as a result of I really like baseball, and ultimately with sufficient reps I began to study Zone hitting and have become a good sufficient hitter to make Championship Sequence.

My Present abilities have solely grown over time and that’s the place all these new gamers are. We’ve all been there. However SDS has to maintain them engaged or they lose prospects and potential income. And that is the place I believe SDS went too far in catering to new gamers with the gameplay tweaks. The foul balls talked about earlier are atrocious. These loopy swings that stretch at-bats are sport ruining by themselves. Even when foul balls are part of baseball, I’m not taking part in baseball once I play The Present, I’m taking part in a online game. And for all of the speak about foul balls, there’s a distinction between fouling off a ball a pair inches outdoors the strike zone and fouling off a ball that’s an inch from bouncing off the dust.

Past that, pitcher confidence already elements vastly into swing outcomes. As an increasing number of pitches are fouled off, pitcher stamina decreases and the probability of a damaging end result for the pitcher will increase. So when these poor swings flip from foul balls into bloop hits, that’s when pitcher confidence begins dropping and that’s when issues go south in a rush.

You possibly can take a look at real-life Statcast information and see common exit velocities in opposition to pitchers. In different phrases, it exhibits if batters are making strong contact in opposition to them often. For those who’re making nice pitches and giving up hits on unhealthy swings that hardly go away the infield, it’s very straightforward to compose your self figuring out you made your pitch. Luck can occur each methods, and certain, pitchers giving up bloopers in actual life can completely quit a nuke and be down three runs. However we’ve no management over confidence in The Present. Low exit-velo swings ought to enhance pitcher confidence within the sport, thus making it harder for opposing batters to get on base with low cost hits. In my time with this sport, it definitely doesn’t seem to work that manner and can be an enormous step ahead.

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Then there’s the variety of very late, very early swings on pitches far out of the zone that I’ve seen go for hits up to now this yr and it’s mind-numbing. There’s nothing enjoyable about being subjected to a 10-pitch at-bat in opposition to somebody who clearly can’t acknowledge pitches or make swing changes. Foul after foul after foul to the purpose that you just intention a pitch within the reverse batter’s field that will get dumped into the alternative subject for successful. No matter extension there’s been to PCI vary, or underneath the hood modifications to extend plate protection, has resulted in a few of the most unrealistic swings I’ve ever seen.

I can’t describe the sensation of watching this occur as something aside from absolute dejection. It appears like a chore. It appears like the sport is principally giving the hitter a mulligan earlier than pausing the sport and placing the ball on a tee for them. And because the pitcher, we’re merely doing our half to assist this participant get on base. We’re simply an actor on this grand baseball play performing our function.

I say all this figuring out I’ve benefited from the identical gripes. All of us have. This sport actually does really feel just like the “circle of life” at occasions. I’ve days the place each ball I contact with my PCI is torched, discovering gaps and blasting concourses past the outfield wall. Unhealthy swings on wonderful pitches dribble up the road and I can do no mistaken. Then the very subsequent day, each good swing appears like an out. Regardless, that’s not likely the sport I wish to play.

I would like my enter to matter, good or unhealthy, for each me and my opponent. I don’t need an RNG fiesta leaving me questioning how I blasted a HR with out even getting my PCI on the ball, and on the very subsequent swing make an ideal swing that’s an out to 1B. No, this isn’t an argument for all excellent swings or all good swings to be hits, relatively how can a horrible swing be a HR after which very best swings be outs so constantly? The horrible swings are rewarded far too usually on this sport.

That’s Baseball™

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It’s change into a meme throughout the neighborhood at this level. That’s baseball. Anytime somebody posts a video of a ridiculously unhealthy hit. That’s baseball. Anytime somebody shares a screenshot of PCI contact after a sport clearly displaying that unhealthy swings had been rewarded far too usually. That’s baseball. It feels as if it’s a must to be on one excessive or the opposite inside this neighborhood: you both love the sport or hate the sport. There doesn’t look like any center floor which contributes to the fixed disagreement on gameplay.

SDS has acknowledged a number of occasions that the PCI doesn’t signify the bat. It’s the place the hitter is trying (we may have a complete article simply speaking about this, however we received’t for now). The PCI suggestions has lengthy been contested, and it’s been mentioned that the suggestions isn’t at all times correct. I’m undecided which one is worse. The suggestions wants to be correct so gamers could make changes. If I get my PCI underneath the ball and I pop it up, then I do know I dropped my PCI and might enhance. That makes full sense. If I’m underneath the ball and hit it 450 toes for a HR, neither of these issues may presumably be true. If the PCI is the participant’s eyes, how did he drive it out of the park whereas staring on the floor? If the suggestions isn’t correct, how is a low PCI a pop-up and a HR on the identical time? That is senseless.

Therein lies the issue. We’re informed that gameplay is the place SDS desires it, that the PCI suggestions isn’t at all times correct, and that the PCI doesn’t signify something. Then these of us who need the sport to be extra aggressive are informed “that’s baseball” and that’s imagined to be the top of the story.

That’s not adequate.

Have you learnt probably the most irritating a part of this for me? I can watch a random MLB sport and plenty of what I see is acquainted. Bloop hits, tons of foul balls (albeit, not on balls eight toes out of the zone), pitchers making excellent pitches which are lined into gaps, and I see wonderful hitters squaring the ball up and strolling again to the dugout as a result of these liners had been caught. As I’m watching an actual life sport, I chuckle to myself as a result of — that’s baseball.

However MLB The Present is a online game. There’s a distinction. Video video games require consumer enter and talent to be nice. Somebody that excels with PCI placement and pitching IQ ought to dominate their opponent if they will’t sustain. The best way The Present performs, it’s SDS doing their finest to imitate actual life Statcast information whereas ignoring the aggressive nature of their very own sport. I’m pretty respectable on the sport however there’s gamers on the market who will completely obliterate me. And if I match up in opposition to them, they need to. I’ll give them probably the most aggressive sport I can and no matter occurs, occurs.

For SDS to have a “aggressive” playstyle the place “stick abilities matter” that also outcomes on this common discourse says quite a bit. It says on-line gameplay leaves quite a bit to be desired for these of us who need a true aggressive matchup. I discover it onerous typically to play on-line and never sit and marvel when the following fluke play will occur. That’s very a lot a “me” drawback, however I’m taking part in with a aggressive mindset. Ought to I simply lose that mindset? Ought to I simply go into video games completely satisfied to be right here and never care if I win or lose? I’m not constructed that manner. And seeing SDS promote all these aggressive tournaments sends a complicated message. We all know the sport isn’t as comp because it might be, and we see the discrepancies in gameplay. However there’s tons of cash and rewards on the road in tournaments all year long.

Backside Line

Finally, I believe the largest piece lacking from the Diamond Dynasty puzzle is a real aggressive sport mode. We are able to discuss for days about gameplay in its present state, however SDS hasn’t modified it for a motive. No matter inner metrics they take a look at clearly fulfill them, in order that they aren’t going to rock the boat. Everybody continues to play as a result of they haven’t any selection. That’s why I believe SDS is lacking out by not together with a comp-specific mode or playlist for these of us who need enter to really matter. That is one thing I’ve felt for a very long time and assume if SDS added one thing like this and actually fleshed it out, it may carry a stage of stability to on-line play in Diamond Dynasty that simply isn’t there.

However what are your ideas on Diamond Dynasty up to now this yr? After two months, are you having fun with your self or are you want me and struggling to inspire your self to play? That is at all times a large ranging subject, so I’d love to listen to everybody’s ideas on gameplay and content material and the place you wish to see SDS go sooner or later.

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