I know very little of baseball, aside from the basic rules, some of the teams, a thing called the World Series and it being referred to as ‘America’s Pastime’. From there though the extent of my knowledge ends. Heck, I’d even been to see a baseball game – the Clearwater Threshers – so imagine my surprise when they weren’t in R.B.I. Baseball 20. Turns out there is a minor baseball league just underneath the MLB. Who knew?!
I also had to do a quick Google search to discover what R.B.I. stands for – ‘runs batted in’ if anyone is curious.
What really stumped me with R.B.I. Baseball 20 though was that a season consists of 162 games! Loading up a 10-year Franchise would mean 1,620 games in total, more if you manage to guide a team to the Postseason. It could be said that I had my work cut out, but my first decision would be to decide which team to choose since as the Threshers wouldn’t be making an appearance…
R.B.I. Baseball 20 is the latest annual baseball game from the series and continues to offer a more arcade focused style of gameplay in comparison to its biggest competitor, MLB: The Show. With MLB: The Show going multiplatform in the very near future – having been solely PlayStation for the past 20 years – the pressure is on R.B.I. to ‘come out swinging’.
First and foremost, gameplay has received a massive overhaul, and it is definitely for the better. In essence, it has been simplified to really give it that arcade, pick up and play feel. For pitching, a submenu appears detailing the type of pitch, along with the pitcher’s ability and confidence. This can change dynamically through the course of a game; consistently get hit off a certain pitch and the confidence will drop, and the pitch then becomes harder to complete. Holding down the A button for longer will also increase the speed of the pitch, but this again makes it harder to complete.
The revamped pitching also has a new perspective, making it more in line with television broadcasts to give a better view of both pitcher and batter.
Speaking of the batting, and this too has undergone a massive change. Again using the A button you can hold for more power, and it is here that stealing bases can be managed through using the LT button.
Fielding has been vastly improved as well. It never occurred to me that the ABXY buttons are mapped almost like a baseball diamond already, and in this update they do now represent the bases to throw to.
Initially, the speed of the pitches caught me off guard, and I was regularly being struck out. Once you get used to that though, the controls make R.B.I. Baseball 20 simple to play, and are a great complement to the arcade approach. Everything about the new controller scheme has been designed for ease of use, and it works extremely well.
Franchise mode is where you will spend the bulk of your time, and again it doesn’t overcomplicate things. There are a variety of options available to tailor your game to how you want and are designed to get you swinging for the fences as quickly as possible. Trading and player rotation are all present in Franchise mode, but the game doesn’t steer you towards them. Any injuries that occur flash up on screen and you are taken straight to the roster to update it and then it is back to the action. It’s very streamlined and perfect for more casual players.
Away from the Franchise mode, and it has to be said that there isn’t much else in the way of content. Exhibition match is simply a single game of baseball, and online multiplayer is once again here. The only other mode is Home Run Derby; based on the real-life event that occurs each year. This is an 8-man bracket for who can hit the most home runs in a four minute time period. Pitching is slowed down to make it a little easier to hit the ball, and it is a lot of fun. It is also worth noting that this is the only mode that features any form of commentary; something that Exhibition mode and Franchise mode are missing.
Home Run Derby also has licensed music playing on a loop in the background – this can also be found in the menus – and it is worth noting that it is a very good selection of upbeat music and feels like the soundtracks of sports games of old, where the standard of songs was much higher.
You can also create a Postseason bracket if all you are interested in is the intensity of knockout baseball.
Other presentational parts seem to be lacking in other areas too. Work has been done on character models and for the most part they are acceptable, but it is in their movement that things are pretty poor. Everything just feels… janky. Pitching movements are fine but almost every other action is disappointing, in particular catching. As a batter you never know if a ball is safe or not; a catcher could be a fair distance away from the ball and it still ends up in their hands. You could say that it’s part of the arcade gameplay, but I say it’s poor movement design.
R.B.I. Baseball 20 has 20 achievements in total. Many of these are for performing certain feats during a game such as scoring seven runs in one inning, advancing a runner on a bunt and three outs fielded by one fielder. As you can imagine, these may take a bit of time. Others are for winning rival matches but perhaps the longest in terms of time to unlock will be R.B.I. Aggregator which is a 100G achievement for accumulating 1,000 total R.B.I.s. Overall though, this is a decent mix of easy and hard achievements.
I can’t say that R.B.I. Baseball 20 on the Xbox One has necessarily won me over to become a fan of baseball. The game itself is a marked improvement from previous entries – the focus on simplifying controls has worked a treat. However, the sport itself isn’t for me, but this isn’t a negative to mark the game down for. With a few extras and a bit more attention to player movements and graphics this could be a home run. But then again this is a licenced sports game at half the price of a regular game, coming in at £24.99, which at least makes it a two-base hit.
Anyone finding this game frustrating needs to play it more. I crush the ball and throw a ton of strike outs. It gets a lot easier once you get past the learning curve. I rarely strike out while hitting, but sure you do ground out and fly out a decent amount. A really good hitter only hits safely in Major League Baseball 3 times out of 10. Still on medium difficulty I have several batters hitting close to .400 or higher. Pitchers are supposed to change speed with their pitches. Otherwise it would be incredibly easy to time their pitches. You also learn when to take pitches, and when to swing at them from experience. I still swing at balls outside the strike zone because it’s hard to always account for how a pitch will break, but I also draw a decent amount of walks by not just going ham, and swinging at everything.
It does take time to get the feel for the game, and get good at it, but you can’t say the game sucks when you obviously haven’t spent the time to get good at it.
I will add to my first comment that I agree there are some bugs that can be annoying, but I have very few lock ups, and have never had the game crash on my XBONE S (Gears of War edition).
Also the lack of content, such as a be a pro mode with rising through the minors, like in EA NHL games, the lack of instant replay, and better statistical Information would have been really nice to have in this game. But as far as the game play itself, it is pretty damn fun. It just requires practice like I said.
Also in franchise mode there are legendary players you can acquire for your team, including Ted Williams, Earnie Banks, George Brett, Ken Griffey Jr., and many more, including great pitchers I didn’t mention. You can stack your team to make it easier to crush opponents until you get better at the game. I have also traded lots of these guy for current greats, like Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, Christian Yellich, Mike Trout. And pitchers like Jacob DeGrom, Gerret Cole, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer.
I have found myself playing this game a lot lately, while waiting for the new COD, and WOW expansion Shadowlands.
Yeah this game is terrible, terrible terrible. I couldn’t agree more.
I’m so angry I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating this game has been I bought it online it froze up didn’t work settings kept changing I requested to send it and get my money back, that was approved, but then it started working just fine, but now it’s doing the same as before in the middle of a season that my team is in first place, but this crap just started freezing up again and doesn’t work. I’m so frickin mad, and now it’s too late to get my money back. This frickin game has been nothing but a pain in my derreare. My name is Ryan Mahoney I live at 1313 Badger Ave. Eau Claire, WI 54701 and I want my money back or a game that actually works please it’s ridiculous and every other person I have talked to that has played it has said the same the game is malfunctuated, and I’m frickin p’ed off and everyone else is and I’m telling all the rest until something is done about it seriously.
This game has everything …everything that makes a game suck its terrible the batting was thought up by a moron could you make more difficult with the timing of every pitcher being different an you having to hold a then let go to swing it’s like totally backwards from anything you have ever had to do
Literally every ball that’s away from you is a strike everything that jams you is a strike when you finally do hit the ball it’s a weak ground out .you have to use assisted fielding because you cant get a jump on the ball an you’ll give up a ton of runs I hate this game the only reason I bought that is because it had better reviews then the other baseball games .well you’ve cured me if wanting to play video baseball ever again .you know all you developers are going to have to find a real job if you don’t start making good games .an by the looks of it your not .no good shooters racing sports they all suck welcome to the unemployment line assholes
Whilst you might not like a game, you shouldnt wish unemployment on the developers. Especially in this current climate where job uncertainty is a daily worry for people. Maybe offer some constructive criticism next time rather than call them morons?
I agree with the batting issues I think youve raised in this post, though it is hard to understand. But the way you raise this issue is all wrong.