Bat Men: Out Of The Park Baseball 18 out now

Only two things are certain in baseball year on year: Out of the Park [official site] will be provide the best sports management simulation in the business, and the Curse of the Billy Goat will never be broken. Only one thing is certain in baseball year on year.

I’ve been playing a preview build of the new version of the stat-heavy Out of the Park, out today, and it’s as detailed and intricate as ever. The 3D view, which was new in last year’s release, has been improved, though I still switched it off after a couple of games. It’s fine but doesn’t match up with the detailed commentary (something the game acknowledges) and I prefer that play-by-play information to a visual short-hand.

One of the game’s key strengths is its ability to simulate any year of Major League Baseball history, right back to the 19th century. We’ve already looked at the new features, but it’s worth noting again that they add further historic detail in the form of Negro League clubs. Thanks to the game’s customisation options, you could try to create alternate histories around integration and/or pit the Negro league teams against their Major League counterparts.

My favourite book about sports is Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer, which follows the Brooklyn Dodgers in the years preceding their 1955 World Series win, and then revisits the players in their post-game lives, years later. It’s not just an insight into the sport, but into journalism, US history and, often through the voice and experiences of Jackie Robinson, racial segregation. Out of the Park might not be able to offer comparable insights but the way that the simulation allows players to rearrange or replay history is unlike anything else in sports management games.

That said, I might not get a chance to write a full review this year, but what I’ve played so far hasn’t convinced me that this is a major upgrade from 17. I’ve also been seeing a lot of home runs, and I’m playing as the Mets so that seems strange. Most likely if it is a balance issue – and I haven’t played enough to say it’s not just a freak occurrence early in the season – it’ll be ironed out soon or already has been. I’ll definitely be playing more so if I find anything remarkable, I’ll be sure to report back.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 is out for Windows, Mac, and Linux on Steam and from the devs.

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