(Note: My copy of Out of the Park 18 was provided to me by Out of the Park Developments)
For those of you familiar with the Out of the Park Baseball series, the newest edition will not be a grand departure. The interface is similar as recent editions (Though they claim a redesign, I don’t really see it), the core gameplay is the same: Run a Baseball franchise over the course of many years, starting either in the present-day or a team from the past. You can also play in foreign leagues if you so desired. It’s a good system and it works well and has for the past few years.
Every new edition, however, tweaks the formula so as to bring more realism and more options to the game. In OOTP 18, the official list of new features/tweaks/fixes are as follows:
- 2017 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A down to rookie leagues and the Arizona Fall League. All major league (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings are based on the popular ZiPS player projection system. The 8 international leagues, as well as independent minor leagues in the US, also return this year with accurate rosters.
- Historical Negro League clubs, thanks to a partnership with OOTP’s acclaimed historical database experts and Seamheads.com. This feature allows baseball fans to explore the rich history of a bygone era, create compelling what-if scenarios, pit major league clubs against their Negro League counterparts, and much more.
- Improvements to 3D mode, including: Even more ballpark detail; better on-field player models and enhanced on-field decisions; and the ability to save all 3D highlights and watch a highlight reel, whether the game was played out or simulated.
- Custom and real world tournaments for all the teams included in the game. National and international tournaments are a breeze to create, as is the ability to import historical teams.
- Extensive AI improvements, including roster management, trades, and in-game decision-making.
- A redesigned injury system that features detailed injury histories for all players, little nagging long-term injuries, and more.
- Many more improvements, including:
- A beautiful new interface
- Improved game recaps
- An upgraded player morale/team chemistry system
- Enhanced play-by-play text and league news
- A sophisticated system for team relegation and promotion between leagues
- The ability to retain player salaries in trades
- The incorporation of many 2017 CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rule changes
Faster import speeds of historical minor league seasons
Something that has been improved over the years has been getting full MLB and MLBPA support. All team logos are in the game, and every team has full Major and Minor League players. They’ve even tried to add in 3D renderings of player’s faces. The results are... not exactly uncanny valley.
The depth of OOTP it staggering, so much so that it can get a bit memory intensive on whatever computer you are playing on, since it’s calculating stats and game results from so many players in many Major and Minor leagues. On an older system like mine, it can take a little bit to load up and simulate things, but once I was in the game things ran fine.
With that depth, there are a few things that make you go “huh?” that are more things in the database. For example, the header image says the National League Strikeout record is 12. Having watched two NL games in my lifetime where the starting pitcher had 20, I’m fairly sure that isn’t correct. Also, it said that the Jackson Generals, the Diamondbacks AA affiliate, was in Jackson, Mississippi, rather than Jackson, Tennessee. It doesn’t detract from the gameplay itself, but it’s one of those easily googled things that could have been easily fixed.
For fun, I simulated the 2017 season, and let’s see how the Diamondbacks did
Over .500 and only a few games out of the Wild Card is better than I could imagine. It would certainly be a good building block to the future, but I’m not sure I want to live in the world where the Dodgers win over 100 games.
Old fans of the OOTP series won’t find too much new and groundbreaking here, but new features are fun to play with. Anybody new to the series might find it overwhelming, but it’s a lot of fun, and can be educational as to the nuts and bolts of how MLB team roster construction happens. It may prevent you from posting a comment on this website to the effect of “WHY DON’T THEY BRING UP (person not on 40-man roster) AND SEND DOWN (person on majors contract with no options and it actually doing okay)!”
You know who you are.
Out of the Park 18 can be purchased from the website of Out of the Park Developments and has a retail price of $39.99