1. The Show will never have a satisfying online experience for most gamers.
Ben Vollmer: Fiction. I think that, with the further we get into the next generation of consoles, developers will become much more comfortable with the online infrastructure. We've seen it with other games already (Battlefield, Titanfall, NBA 2K, etc.), and I think that online play in general will improve in the coming years.
One thing I'll be really interested to see is how they handle Online Franchise going forward. As it stands, the mode holds a ton of promise but it's just too buggy to play right now. The loading times, which seem to be a direct result of the game uploading data to the servers, are horrendous and make the game practically unplayable. Hopefully they'll continue to push forward with the feature and give an experience that more closely resembles other online leagues that we have come to love.
Glenn Wigmore: Fact. I've written about this in the past, and I think it's still totally appropriate to say it today: the online component for MLB 14: The Show is shaky at best. This isn't anything new. The folks at Sony San Diego clearly just don't have the tech, people or knowledge to implement something remotely playable when it comes to online games.
The action is routinely laggy, with slow pitch delivery, synchronization issues (dropped third strikes or throws form the outfield come to mind) and outright disconnects. Is it playable? Yes, but it's hardly an enjoyable endeavor. I yearn for the days of MVP 2005 and its stable online play. Hell, even MLB Bobblehead Pros has buttery smooth online compared to what The Show is offering. The Show's poor online play is becoming a staple of the franchise, and it's been almost a decade of this nonsense.
2. The commentary in the game needs a serious overhaul at this point.
BV: Fact. I think, in general, The Show suffers from repetitiveness. The commentary is perhaps the worst offender of this, as it's hard to make it through a single game without hearing repeated lines and lines that simply don't make sense in the given context. It will be interesting to see if the game every fully embraces dynamic commentary in the same way that NBA 2K has, or if SCEA feels like they can avoid having to deal with that.
That being said, I think everyone would love to see MLB Network put their stamp on the game. It would be really interesting to see what The Show could do with a fully fledged TV broadcast.
GW: Fact. To be truthful, the commentary does need an overhaul, but it's still an amazingly good audio package that The Show puts together. There's lots of great touches (commentary cutting off when an inning ends early, specific game talk, PA announcer detail), and the trio of announcers hasn't quite reached the annoyance levels of NHL's duo (thankfully, that's changing).
Still, to make this kind of change, the team would have to take a year off or dedicate a separate team to create that much new audio, and I just don't see them doing that at this point.
3. In regards to gameplay, there isn't much more you can do with the game to make it too much better. At this point, only incremental changes to the balance are needed.
BV: Fiction. Let me preface this by saying that I think The Show has the best core gameplay in sports video games right now, and probably has for the last several years. That said, there are still a lot of things that could be done to enhance the gameplay to a point of higher realism. The game of baseball has changed to the point where nearly 75 percent of all teams are using some form of advanced metrics in game to help them win. Unfortunately, these same changes are only available in minimized forms (shifts, battling lineups, throwing into the shift, etc.). And though it isn't directly gameplay related, we are still seeing the same swing and fielding animations that we did five years ago. It's time for a major overhaul in that department, and it would give an adrenaline shot to gameplay that will probably need it in the coming years.
GW: Fact. Straight up, the gameplay in The Show is terrific. You'll get no argument from me on that point. However, I feel the biggest thing this game still misses is the pitcher-batter matchup and the cat-and-mouse games that can happen as counts get higher. There is certainly some of that, to be sure, but what MVP got so right all those years ago was the hitter's eye. I still feel that many times I'm reacting and guessing more at the plate (which is a part of baseball, to be sure), but I can't get enough intel about what the pitcher may throw. The slight touch of color that MVP did was a great way of making you feel like a hitter — picking up the rotation out of the pitcher's hand.
I feel some of this is possibly a camera issue, but some of it is definitely in the feedback you do (or don't) get when the pitch is coming in. This isn't to say I don't get hits or can't appreciate a challenge. I just feel that the game doesn't truly allow for some of those crafty batting situations, especially against human competition.