MLB 14: The Show is finally here, and baseball fans can indulge in Sony's glorious simulation experience, from pitching and batting to catching that deep fly at the fence.
We already covered the basics in our Beginner’s Tips article from last week, and now it's time to dig a little deeper and provide some advice on the Advanced level. There's something here for everyone, so be sure to dig in!
How to Play Road to the Show
Road to the Show once again returns as the prominent mode for MLB 14, and you can use this to build your ideal player and create a baseball legend – if you have the confidence. A lot of effort will go into making your player shine on the field, so there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind.
The first and most important thing is to keep tabs on your progress. There are charts within the game that will compare you to other players, so you can see where you need to make improvements should the situation call for it. You can also apply training points and take part in mini-games to improve your statistics, but you'll need to complete them properly in order to make a difference.
In addition, as you earn points, make sure you apply them in the categories where they matter the most. While areas like base-running ability and drag bunting may seem tempting to boost, they don't apply much when it comes to general play. Focus on hitting, pitching or catching attributes, depending on what kind of player you select, and stick with the vital areas that will best improve their performance. You won't have to worry about other things until later on in your career, or even at all. Stick with what works in the long run.
Make Substitutions when the Situation Calls for it
Some people believe that a pitcher can play through an entire game. There are certain exceptions where this is true – when attempting a shutout – but otherwise, it's not worth wearing down your player. Pitching can take a lot out of someone, and around the 6th or 7th inning, you'll start to see some wear with slightly weaker pitches, resulting in more opportunities for the opposing team to hit the ball.
It's up to you on whether you want to keep a pitcher in or not – they can usually last a full game without waning too much – but during playoff scenarios or crucial games, it never hurts to bring in fresh blood. Unless they're going for something pride-related, if you start to see performance suffer, go ahead and switch them out. They might not be thrilled with being removed from the mound, but a win is a win.
In addition, adjusting your line-up is everything. You'll want to make sure you have a strong team in the outfield, and keep an eye out for errors or someone who isn't showing the same level of hustle as others on the field. It never hurts to have a good pinch hitter, someone who can nail a home run.
Play around with line-ups. See which members work well for you, and don't be afraid to make a few changes. Teams do this in the big leagues all the time, benching troublesome players and giving new ones a chance. Eventually, you'll find a squad that works for you – and that will be the team you’ll want online.
Advanced Fielding Tips
We covered fielding briefly with our Beginner’s Tips article, but we want to talk a little more about techniques that will work best for you when it comes to being in the outfield.
First, the new addition of a power meter lobbing the ball back to base may throw a few players off. It does take some getting used to, but it’s quite useful, especially when hurling the ball towards the cut-off man. Practice with it, and you'll eventually see why Sony San Diego made the change.
Second, don't focus on a key player making the catch unless you have Player Focus turned on. Even then, keep in mind this is a team sport. If you have another player in the zone primed to make the catch, don't be a hero – let him make the catch. By the same token, if you don't see a player rushing over to get the ball, go ahead and make a run for it. Even if you end up sliding, you still have a fairly good chance at making a heck of a catch.
Finally, watch the ground indicator. It gives you a good idea of not only where the ball will end up, but just how far it is from the ground, growing in size and shrinking again. This will tell you everything you need to know about whether you can head over to make the catch or not.
You Won't Always Get Your Dream Team
Drafts will occur in the Road to the Show mode, where scouts will come out and watch you play. It's during this three-game series where you'll want to make a difference. On top of that, you'll also be able to look over teams and decide which one is best suited for you, and then see if you can apply for it.
You won't always get your team of choice when you first apply – it really depends on their needs and what they're looking for to complete their squad. You shouldn't get discouraged, though. Your career will provide the opportunity to improve your skills and watch as other teams take notice – including the one you originally applied for.
Keep at it. Continue to practice regularly and put in healthy, solid performances during games. As your career picks up, so will your options – and then you'll be on your way to superstardom.
Online Franchise Will Take Time
Finally, the Online Franchise mode makes its return, and it's as deep as you'd expect. You can draft teams, trade players and set up scouts in this mode, as well as tackle commissioner duties, including decisions on scheduling and season length.
These modes are very in-depth and will take a lot of time. If you're picking up the game for the first time, it's recommended that you get the basics down first with a few games – online and off – and then dig into the technical stuff. That way, you'll get an idea of just what you're in for, and a finer appreciation of who the superstars in the league are. Of course, if you're an avid baseball fan and can rattle off statistics like a lunatic, feel free to jump right in. The more knowledge you have of what goes into the sport, the better you'll fare when it comes to making key decisions about your teams.
Either way, it's a lengthy but in-depth mode that'll teach you the finer points of baseball.
Now check out the best teams in MLB 14.
MLB 14: The Show is available now for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, and will release on May 6th for PlayStation 4.