We’re already over one month into the 2022 MLB season, but many years have passed in the world of Out of the Park Baseball 23. This baseball management simulator lets you take the reigns of your favorite team to attempt to bring home a World Series trophy. But that’s not all there is to do in one of the most fantastic and realistic baseball simulation video games to date.
To start, one of the biggest changes to this franchise in the latest edition is the improved 3D graphics of the in-game visuals. It’s certainly not close to MLB the Show level of graphics. Still, it’s an improvement for players who like to go through games pitch-by-pitch like they’re managing a real MLB game. And if you like the old visuals, then you can always go back to the classic view.
The only problem with the new visuals is that they don’t always align perfectly with the simulation. Sometimes a batter will ground a ball straight to the shortstop who then proceeds to stand there and do nothing with it. The play-by-play text then explains why they couldn’t throw the ball over — for example, the shortstop bobbled the ball. The lack of a clear animation to indicate why a play turned out the way it did is a major immersion breaker for those who play pitch-by-pitch.
Some long-time players might be used to these quirks, fortunately, the rest of the game is much more inviting to new players than in past iterations. The main reason for that is the introduction of the tutorial mode. It takes you through each menu, step-by-step, as you set your lineups, pitching rotation, adjust player contracts, and everything else baseball management-related. Plus, you can enter tutorials at any time by clicking the lightbulb icon while viewing any menu.
As an Out of the Park Baseball noobie, it was a good teaching tool. But it certainly requires a bit of patience since some of the tutorial explanations are fairly lengthy with no voiceovers. But if you don’t have the patience to read a tutorial, then you might not be interested in a game like this. However, audio in the tutorials would be a helpful addition for players with visual impairments.
To be fair, the OOTPDevelopments YouTube channel has tutorial videos for the game. Yet, the in-game link sends you to the main channel page instead of to the tutorial playlist that they created specifically for Out of the Park Baseball 23. It would be nice to see the videos added to the game with a future update or in the next iteration of the game.
Once you move beyond the tutorial and have a grasp on how the game works, then it’s time to jump into the main game. You can play a full season, a series, or even a single game from the late 1800s to the present day. That means you can manage the infamous 1899 Cleveland Spiders to try to improve on their historic 134 loss season. And of course, on top of that, you can manage real present-day clubs with real players from 15 different countries plus the World Cup of Baseball. No other baseball game even comes close to giving you the same amount of options.
Even within that main game mode, there are plenty of different ways to play. You can focus on managing the lineups, pitching rotation, and scouting players, then simulate whole weeks or seasons. Or if you really like to get granular with your managing, then there’s the option to decide how every batter or pitcher approaches each pitch. And if you form a big enough lead, then you can always simulate to the end of a game.
What’s more, the simulation of the games is very accurate in terms of player stats. You’re not going to see a team with 500 home runs or a single player with 300 hits in a season or anything ridiculous like that. Still, if you play your cards right as the manager, you can usually get a little bit more out of a team or player than would be expected.
But if you try to do a full season simulation in one go, then get ready for multiple interruptions. By default, injuries, messages, trade proposals, and more will interrupt your simulation. Then the annoying part is that it takes clicking through a few menus to get back to simulating. An option to automatically go back to simming games after taking care of whatever issue came up would be helpful. You can always change what types of events pause your sim. But then you risk letting the AI make decisions you wouldn’t do.
Finally, the fan-favorite mode Perfect Team is back for another year of club-building fun. For those of you familiar with MLB the Show, this is pretty much the equivalent of Diamond Dynasty mode where you can buy packs of baseball cards to build your team.
The most enjoyable part of the mode is starting out with a pile of scrubs and then slowly building up your team to something more formidable. Or you can get an all-star club right off the bat if you don’t mind spending a few hundred dollars. Thankfully, it looks like there’s a path to improving your team over time without spending money. Logging in every day nets you in-game currency or free packs that can be used to improve your club. And of course, just playing the game will earn you currency as well.
Additionally, there are fairly deep customization options in Perfect Team that let you modify logos, pants, shirts, and hats. You can choose from team logos in leagues across the world, a number of fictional team logos, or you can even upload your own PNG files to act as a logo. Your options are only limited by your imagination.
When it comes down to it, Out of the Park Baseball 23 is still the king of baseball management simulation. There are certainly some rough spots that could be smoothed out like in the in-game animations, some quality of life changes in simulation, and fleshing out the tutorials a bit more. But none of those change the fact that this is a fantastic game that any baseball fan and general stat nerd could enjoy.
Animations can be immersion-breaking
Flesh out tutorial mode