Hey guys, I’m back on MRR for the first time in a while to bring you a review of a game/simulation that has been entertaining me nonstop for the past couple of weeks.
Out of the Park Developments has been churning out quality products for a long time now, with OOTP Baseball being their first game all the way back in 1999. Since then, they’ve introduced Franchise Hockey Manager as well as the mobile version of OOTP, MLB Manager, but OOTP Baseball has remained the most popular of their titles, for good reason.
I first purchased the game back in 2013 when I learned about it through the internet (thanks to the baseball and OOTP communities on Reddit) and I had a bit of money laying around after high school graduation. I was drawn in by OOTP 14 from the start, but I never took the time to learn how to play the game well and I eventually became disinterested. Recently I decided to revisit the game, but I was not only turned off by the outdated rosters, but I found the game to be a bit clunky visually and lacking a few key user-friendly features.
Luckily for me, I decided to check out the Steam store on Cyber Monday and see what was up for grabs on sale. Luckily for me, OOTP 16 was on sale for just $9.99, a sum I could justify spending, even with my measly campus-job wages. I knew that the game had huge potential, and being two years removed from the last version I had played, I trusted that the game would be much improved from the version I had last played (I never got my hands on OOTP 15, unfortunately).
When I first opened the game I was prompted with a link to a series of tutorial videos on the OOTP YouTube page and decided that, unlike last time, I would go ahead and watch them in order to learn the game better. Looking back, this was a valuable way to spend 40 minutes – OOTP 16 is a complex game, so familiarizing yourself with the content before diving in is a good idea and will certainly enhance the pleasure you derives from playing it. After completing the series of tutorial videos, I began a new game, placing myself at the helm of my favorite team (the Boston Red Sox) as their general manager prior to the 2015 season.
I won’t get into too many of the specific details from my gameplay, but I will admit that for the first three nights after I purchased the game, I sat awake at my desk until at least 3 AM, simming along and trying to build a World Series champion (I’ve completed 6 seasons of that franchise now, winning over 93 games and making the playoffs the last five years running, including a 101-win season in 2018… I’ve still yet to win a World Series title). If that doesn’t tell you most of what you need to know, I’m not sure anything will. The game had me addicted. I was in love with the process of team-building, roster and financial management, the whole thing. In OOTP 16, you truly are in control of the franchise, right down to the price of the tickets. Plus, OOTP is now officially licensed my Major League Baseball, so you get the full experience with real logos, jerseys, and ballparks of all 30 MLB teams and their MiLB affiliates.
OOTP 16 has so many features, that it wouldn’t be practical to outline every on in a single review. Even their self-published tutorial videos (which, like I mentioned, are over 40 minutes long in aggregate) skip things that you have to discover for yourself. However, I will cover the three basic game types (Standard, Historical, Custom) as well as outline the three management types (General Manager, Manager, Commissioner). First, we’ll take a look at the game landing screen and the game types.
In OOTP 16, you have three types of games you can play – Standard, Historical, and Custom. Standard is the most basic of the three types – you begin in the year 2015 with real rosters from the beginning of the 2015 season. You can not only choose to start with any MLB or MiLB team, but you have multiple international leagues to choose from as well – KBO, NPB, etc. You can also elect to start off unemployed in any league, and sign with the team of your choosing (you’ll typically have somewhere around 5 teams offer you a contract) and build your career from there. With a Historical league, you can start in any historical season all the way back to 1871 – all with real rosters. Everything about these leagues is as it was in the year you choose, from the league structure to the financial landscape. Want to see if you can lead the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox to a World Series title? Think you could’ve won the AL Central outright with the 2009 Tigers? You can go back and test yourself in these and any number of scenarios using the Historical game mode. Lastly. the Custom mode is exactly what it sounds like – a total free-for-all. You can build a league using your own custom set of parameters or model it off any existing league. As the game says, you truly get to “create your own baseball world”. Not only can you create fictional leagues, but you can use real historical teams and pit them against each other. Want to make a 16-team league, using the best historical iterations of your favorite teams? Want to make an 8-team league consisting of the last 8 World Series winners? You can do that and much, much more with the Custom game mode. Personally, I built a totally fictional league called the “United States Association of Baseball”, consisting of 16 teams in non-MLB towns across the country, such as the Portland Lobsters, Tuscaloosa Druids and Encinitas Swordfish (I was offered and accepted a job with the Memphis team – Go Whitetails!). There’s really no end to the options with the Custom mode, and it allows for some really fun simulations.
Now, let’s talk about what you can do once you set up the league. You’re given the option to be the Manager, General Manager, or both (what I like to call “Dan Jennings Mode”) of whatever team you choose. You also have the ability to play in Commissioner mode. Commissioner mode gives you full control over any and all setting in the game, as well as every other team in your league. This mode is closer to playing God than playing as a real commissioner, but it does come in handy in custom leagues or if you find yourself wanting to try new things in an established league. Commissioner Mode can be turned on or off at any time from the manager settings screen, so don’t worry about choosing it or not when you first get started. But anyways, choosing which of the three aforementioned modes you want to play in takes a little thought (you can only change this option in the offseason, or when in Commissioner mode… so really, anytime, cause you can just go to Commissioner mode whenever… but I digress). If you want to have full control of your personnel, rosters, financials, free agents, trades, etc., General Manager mode is for you. If you prefer to just work with what you’re given, you can choose Manager mode, in which you have control over your pitching staff, lineups, strategies, and other day-to-day actions. If you want total control of all these features, you can choose Dan Jennings Mode and be the GM and Manager. Here’s a sneak peek at what your home page looks like, in-game:
When it comes to the actual gameplay, it’s obvious to me that OOTP has gone above-and-beyond in fine-tuning their game since the 14 version. Menus are easier to navigate, actions are simpler to perform, some things (like strategy, which was a PITA in 14) have been made easier to understand, and so on. Interestingly enough, however, a lot of things are the same. The layout and many of the different screen are very similar or even identical to what they were before, which made it quite easy to adapt to when first picking the game up. I think that lots of developers fall into the trap of fixing things that aren’t broken, but it seems to me that OOTP has found a way to streamline and enhance their existing features without changing them altogether. The game is somehow still the same as it was two version ago, but it’s been made more appealing visually and far easier/more convenient/simpler to play.
I don’t want to say too much, as part of the fun of OOTP 16 is discovering all the nuances and intricacies yourself, and becoming a master at managing your team. If you’re a fan of action, thrills and drama, this game may not be for you. However, if you’re a baseball fan and have ever dreamed of what it would be like to run your own team, OOTP 16 is the best way to immerse yourself in that position. Even if you aren’t big into analytics or don’t consider yourself a “hardcore” baseball fan, I’d suggest you give this title a try. It’s discounted on the Steam store right now, and it’s a good way to see if you’re into the title before OOTP 17 comes out next year. However, I think you’ll find a lot of enjoyment from the game if you find any enjoyment from baseball.
Thanks for reading, and I hope a few of you who check tis out go to the Steam store or to OOTP’s website (linked in the beginning of the post) and get yourselves a copy of OOTP 16. Check back in soon for more content from Middle Relief Report. Enjoy!