If there is one major sport neglected in the video game world, it is undoubtedly baseball. Only one quality replication of the game exists. Out of the Park Baseball 19 is the latest in that series. Much like the acclaimed Football Manager franchise, Out of the Park Baseball 19 focuses on the back end of the sport, putting you in charge of everything behind the scenes. It aims to make the management side of the sport as exciting as actually picking up a bat.
Like many other annual releases, the aim of each Out of the Park Baseball installment isn’t necessarily to make wholesale changes to the formula. After all, there’s no need to fix what isn’t broke. The developers of Out of the Park Baseball 19 have definitely taken this approach over the last few years. Rather than include game changing mechanics or altering the basic structure, they try to improve the overall experience in small ways. Fixes for leading complaints and incremental additions are vital to make it worthwhile to buy the new edition without alienating the fans who are so necessary for the series’ success.
Probably the most important thing for fans each year are the roster updates that keep Out of the Park Baseball 19 in line with the real world teams. What makes this series so special is that it has such a deep roster database. Not only does it cover the MLB with an official license, but it also has leagues and players from Minor League Baseball, as well as teams from across the globe. It gives you the opportunity to really dig into the sport and get to grips with every level of baseball in a way that isn’t possible anywhere else.
Outside of those roster updates, Out of the Park Baseball 19 does have some noteworthy additions. The 3D visualization of each game has become far more realistic. It is still nowhere near the level you can find in games like Madden, although that isn’t what this type of release is for. Seeing the players move around the park is far more satisfying now, and there are even some sleek animations. Not having to rely solely on text updates to know what is going on is a very welcome addition. That’s not to mention the wide array of choices that are available to create custom leagues. Some people don’t want to stick to the standard MLB season and this feature gives them the ability to play the game exactly how they want.
The actual management of the team has also been enhanced so that you have to be even more involved in the tiny details to be successful. Keeping an eye on the morale of the players and team chemistry appears to be a bigger deal. More weight is given to actions that might shift the mood in the dressing room, so you need to think carefully about every acquisition, as the wrong choice could lead to a downward spiral that you will struggle to turn around.
A new scouting system ensures you get more accurate information in a user friendly way. Taking this in will prove of great importance in knowing which players to sign and how to prepare for upcoming fixtures. Both of these give your actions genuine consequences, forcing you to not just make decisions on the fly without any thought.
In a smart move, the developers have made the user interface a bit more intuitive and appealing. With the sheer amount of menus available, players could easily drown in walls of text. That isn’t so much of a problem now. Everything has been stripped down, so it’s easier to get exactly where you want to be. There are also a variety of options you can change in terms of skins to suit your tastes. You can even customize the home screen completely so that it only shows the details that are of most importance to you. This is a feature that many other developers should consider implementing.
That isn’t to say that Out of the Park Baseball 19 doesn’t have some problems. Simulations can still be painfully slow, so you cannot skip ahead too far without having to micromanage everything once again. The improvements to the UI are still not enough to make Out of the Park Baseball 19 easy to pick up for those not relatively familiar with baseball. The lack of tutorials and explainers means newcomers might find it difficult to get their bearings. Getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information is something that is certainly possible.
Ultimately, though, Out of the Park Baseball 19 is exactly what you want. There are enough improvements to the visuals, UI, and management features to make it a justifiable purchase. It does just enough to stand out from its predecessors without the risk of losing what makes it so good by reinventing the wheel. Without a doubt, this is the best entry in the series, bringing the franchise to the modern age effectively.