Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Out of the Park Developments for the review copy of Out of the Park Baseball 18 that was used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
Just in time for baseball season, the best sports simulator series returns with Out of the Park Baseball 18. Since I reviewed last year’s edition of the Out of the Park Baseball series, I’m not going to go too in-depth into what this series is all about (just the basics) so if you need more general information about the series check out last year’s review. The basic gist of the Out of the Park Baseball series is that it is a game for players who love the franchise building and management parts of MLB: The Show and other sports games but don’t care so much about playing the baseball games themselves. You don’t get to pitch or hit the ball in Out of the Park Baseball 18, you just call the shots and tell the players what to do and decide which players to draft, sign, and trade. In sports games, I have always enjoyed the franchise building and management parts just as much as the actual games themselves. If you enjoy those elements of sports games as well, the Out of the Park Baseball series is for you.
Out of the Park Baseball 18 is the eighteenth game in the long-running series. At this point, Out of the Park Baseball is a well-oiled machine with very few things the game could even add outside of the usual roster updates. It is already a hyper-realistic baseball simulation with just about everything you could possibly ask for. Unfortunately not too much was added to this year’s version of the game but as I’ve said, there really isn’t much they could add anyway. Most of the additions and improvements are small things like new rosters and international tournaments. Some of the bigger new features in Out of the Park Baseball 18 include:
- Historical Negro Leagues-Most Negro League seasons have been added to the historical minor league feature. A nice addition especially for baseball historians curious about what would happen if baseball integrated much earlier (for example how many home runs Josh Gibson would have hit in the majors).
- Improved 3D mode and game highlight reels-This adds some more ballpark detail, player animations, and other small things to make the in-game management mode a little nicer to watch. Nothing that huge but it does improve the in-game experience a bit.
- New tournaments and fall leagues-Put on your own World Baseball Classic or other international tournaments and guide your chosen nation’s team through it. This is probably the third biggest addition but considering how little baseball fans seem to care about the WBC, it isn’t really that big of a deal. However, I can see some potential in this mode if next year they add the ability to pit teams from different eras against each other to see who was the best team of all-time and other things like that.
- Redesigned injury system-This includes a detailed injury history, nagging long-term injuries, injuries that have long-term effects, and more. It’s hard to add more realism to this already hyper-realistic baseball simulator but this is a small but solid addition that actually does improve it.
- Support for soccer-like promotion and relegation leagues-You can now create leagues where teams have to fight to be promoted to the main league or defend against being relegated to a lower league level. I doubt I will ever use this feature but it is a pretty cool addition to the game.
- The ability to retain player salaries in trades-I’m surprised this wasn’t already in the game but again, anything that adds even more realism to the game is a good thing in my book.
- Improved AI throughout the game-This is a behind-the-scenes type thing which is hard to tell how much it improves the game. I didn’t really notice too much added difficulty, but the game was already pretty hard to begin with.
- 2017 CBA rule changes-The rule changes in this CBA were pretty minor so this really doesn’t add too much to the game.
- Improved player morale and team chemistry system
- Improved player creation and development system
- And more.
While a lot of those additions are nice (but minor) improvements to the game, Out of the Park Baseball 18 is a $39.99 game and if you already have last year’s version of the game that is a pretty pricey upgrade for not a lot of changes. The addition of the Negro League rosters, the new tournament modes, the ability to make a promotion and relegation baseball league, and the other minor additions and improvements are cool, I just don’t think they are worth $39.99 if you already own an Out of the Park Baseball game from the last year or two (unless you are one of those people that get hundreds if not thousands of hours out of each year’s version).
Basically, the decision on whether to purchase Out of the Park Baseball 18 comes down to two things. One, do you already own one of the last two Out of the Park Baseball releases? Two, how big of a fan of the series are you and are just a few relatively minor additions and improvements worth $39.99 to you? If you already own a recent copy of the game and are more of a casual fan of the series, you can probably skip this version. The additions are nice but there just isn’t enough to justify the price tag. If you are a huge fan of the series (someone who plays every version of the game for hundreds of hours) and think the additions sound cool, you’ll probably get your money’s worth (though you might want to wait for a sale). If you don’t already own a game in the series and love the idea of building and managing a baseball team (but not playing the actual games themselves), you absolutely should give Out of the Park Baseball 18 a try. Out of the Park Baseball is the best sports simulation series on the market and you could easily wind up losing hundreds of hours to the game.