I recently received an early copy of OOTP Baseball 2015 from the fine people at Out of the Park Developments, and while this early build is buggy and in parts incomplete, it already shows the promise of being another great installment for the best baseball simulation on Earth (and, presumably, all other planets, moons and asteroids). Today, a day after the game went out to those who pre-ordered, here are some first impressions- a full review is coming later.
First off and most importantly, it’s the same old OOTP.
They haven’t changed anything about the gameplay itself: it remains the good old OOTP, allowing you to command your team’s front office and on-field moves (managerial decisions, line-ups, etc.), simulate old seasons, manage transactions, etc. This is a case of “not messing with success”. It also remains very moddable- in a few of these pictures you’ll see real MLB logos or player faces, which aren’t default but rather things you can download.
The Biggest Additions are Graphical
For example, whereas once you could either have a computer-generated image of your players, or, in cases where you were playing using real players, a photograph of them, now you can have both, as the “facegen” system can now mold the player’s actual face onto a 3D computer body. Like David Ortiz here:
As you can see, it’s not exactly perfect, and as a result the picture above looks more like an action figure of David Ortiz than Big Papi himself, but with other players it’s a bit better. And, what’s more, what is great about this is that it means the picture can now change as they move from team-to-team, or if a new uniform style is added. Previously, David Ortiz always was in his Red Sox cap if you had downloaded his image to use- even if you were playing a simulation of a year where he was with the Twins. Now, the picture would change to show that.
The other, bigger and even more exciting development, is the introduction of 3D into the actual in-game experience, allowing you to see, in 3D graphics, the stadium where you are playing, as well as the ball flying into the seats or harmlessly dropping into a second-baseman’s glove. It’s not complete yet- OOTP Developments even has admitted so- so I can’t really comment on it yet, and I don’t quite feel comfortable showing a screenshot of it yet either, mainly because of that unfinishedness. Still, from what I can see, this could be one of the coolest additions to OOTP since the ability to play multiple leagues around the world was added, especially once you consider how nice some of the modding will be as people add in 3D models of Fenway Park, Camden Yards, and the like.
The International Focus Is Stronger Than Even
OOTP has for several years had the ability to simulate all the world of baseball, even including many leagues, such as Japan’s and Korea’s, in the game’s “league creation” screen. This year, they’ve added in the Dutch and Italian Leagues, and, in a first, they’ve added in the real rosters for the international teams, although they are sometimes a bit haphazard- DOOR Neptunus of the Dutch League, for example, had an empty roster last I checked. Still, it’s neat that the OOTP team has done all of this research, and I’m sure as time goes on we’ll see even more additions to OOTP’s global leagues- perhaps a defection feature for Cuba, for example, or the promotion/relegation of the Dutch League. Maybe even a World Baseball Classic is in the future of the OOTP world!
In addition, they’ve added in the Posting System function, a pretty big part of the business of baseball that hadn’t been in OOTP games until now. Of course, as with almost everything in OOTP, that’s customizable and can be turned on/off.
One of my favorite additions/changes are the differences in how scouting and ratings are now shown. Previously, OOTP didn’t really give you an idea if, say, a “60” in power was good or not. Now, though, the ratings are set so that they are based on how well a player is compared to his league and whatever scale you’ve set for your game. So on a 1-100 scale, a player who is a 60 in power is a bit above average in the power category in your league. Of course, you can also now change the league that is used as an average, allowing you to laugh at how awesome your utility player would be in the low minors or in one of the lesser international leagues.
Little Things Mean A Lot
Every OOTP also makes some small adjustments. For example. OOTP now has a retired number feature:
(Sadly, they have yet to have the ability to import this in from the start- so if you want to make sure nobody is wearing number 8 as you simulate the next 5 years of Orioles history, you have to enter those numbers yourself)
NOTE: I’ve since learned that the most recent version of the game has gotten this fixed.
It also has a little funny ditty for the “can’t be fired” option:
Stuff I haven’t covered/played yet
There also are changes with how you can set up historic leagues- sadly, I haven’t had a close look at that yet. I also have yet to really do a long sim yet, as I’m waiting for some of the bugs and glitches to stabilize. Still, it’s obvious already that this will be the best OOTP yet, and I’m sure it’ll get even better as time goes on.