MLB The Show 21’s Pinpoint Pitching is too hard to be worth learning

Take care what I long for. That’s the lesson of MLB The Program 21’s brand-new Pinpoint Pitching system.

For all its defects, I did delight in the pitching controls of the Big league Baseball 2K series — the last MLB sim on an Xbox platform. MLB 2K13 and its predecessors needed distinct gestures on the best thumbstick to carry out each pitch. The majority of baseball computer game of that time utilized a three-stop pitching meter comparable to the ones seen in golf computer game, however the results typically felt approximate and separated from the user’s control, even when it looked like I got the meter right.

After MLB 2K passed away, I required SIE San Diego Studio to straight-up take the concepts of its small competitor. 8 years later on, gesture-based controls lastly concern MLB The Program 21 with a system that Sony San Diego calls Pinpoint Pitching. However it is a lot more difficult than its spiritual predecessor.

While Pinpoint Pitching has some evangelists, the basic response appears to be that the system is too challenging. I needed to go back to my Xbox 360 and boot up MLB 2K13 to determine (see what I did there?) precisely what was troubling me about Sony San Diego’s technique, and I lastly figured it out.

It’s the additional action the designers contributed to the procedure that is tossing me off the most.

A matter of timing

Pinpoint Pitching starts with the gamer targeting (and holding the left thumbstick over) the location they wish to strike in the strike zone. The gamer then starts the shipment by moving the best thumbstick straight down, up, left, or right (depending upon the pitch) and right away drawing a gesture (e.g., directly for a fastball, or a half-circle for a curveball) that ends at the top of the stick location. A little map on the screen reveals the course the gamer ought to attempt to trace. This is basic enough.

MLB The Program 21 has gamers right away draw this pattern, then wait — in some cases a number of seconds — to carry out a last action: drawing a straight line from the top of the circle to a target that is left or right of the bottom, which represents the x-axis of your pitching target. You’re expected to trace the pattern, and struck that last target, right as the pitcher’s shipment animation gets to its release point.

MLB 2K13’s pitching was simpler to follow. Gamers needed to know a single thing on the screen that informed them whatever they required to understand.

As in MLB The Program 21, gamers began the shipment by taking down (and just down, though) on the best thumbstick. However then they waited there for a bit, prior to drawing the gesture. Ideal timing was represented by a yellow circle that slowly filled up to the edges of the circular pitching interface. When the player completed the gesture, the pitch was thrown.

The idea was to complete that gesture right as the inner circle met the outer one. Finish the gesture too soon, and the pitch arrives higher than intended. Complete it too late, and it goes lower. Really biffing the timing or the gesture leads to a wild pitch. The pitch’s lateral accuracy (left or right) is all handled by the CPU, after judging the overall effectiveness of the player’s input. Your eyes didn’t have to be in two places at once, and there was still room for surprises even if you think you did everything well.

MLB The Show’s version is a major downgrade. The system also messes with timing: When runners are on base, a pitcher moves into his “stretch” delivery, which gives you less time to make the gesture. This is the case in MLB 2K13, too. But because MLB The Show 21 has you draw the pattern immediately, and prior to the final timing and targeting move, you have less time to perform the longest step in the process.

Many relief pitchers (and some starters) pitch exclusively from the stretch. When I realized I had built a Road to the Show gamer who did exactly that, I quit the game, went back to the player customization menus, and gave him a longer windup. If you really want a generous window, give your guy an old-timer’s delivery, like Walter Johnson’s or Christy Mathewson’s from more than a century ago.

I understand why MLB The Show 21’s makers would try for something like Pinpoint Pitching, now the fourth pitching control option that the developers have introduced. Gesture-based pitching is like driving a sports car with a stick shift: It’s much more fun for enthusiasts, because you’re more involved.

But for now, only a masochist would try Pinpoint Pitching. I get that some players are already very good at it, frequently landing pitches with perfect timing and precision. Good for them. There are likewise people who can 100% “Through the Fire and Flames” in Guitar Hero 3.

The good news is that Sony San Diego always preserves existing controls and options as it introduces new ones. If you have become so skilled at your preferred method that you want a new challenge, I’d still recommend trying one of the three legacy sets, since Pinpoint Pitching is too aggravating, with several actions to follow, and several suggestions stating you’re doing it all incorrect.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.