Out of the Park Baseball 25 Has Me Excited for Baseball Season

Chris Walker

Baseball is called America’s pastime, and with the popularity of video games over the past few decades, it is no surprise that titles surrounding the diamond have thrived. One such franchise is Out of the Park Baseball, which is enjoying its 25th anniversary on the market. I had the opportunity to check out the newest edition’s beta and while I have thoughts, for the most part, the game did what it was meant to do: get me excited for baseball season and make me want to play more of it.

Having not played the series since Out of the Park Baseball 21 when it had been on PC Game Pass for a short time, I had a good understanding of the basics of the game. In fact, Out of the Park Baseball 2020 is still my most-played title on Steam even after almost 5 years since its release. I was very excited to get my hands on Out of the Park Baseball 25. For many, sims like this are unappealing because of the lack of interaction on the field. However, OOTP Baseball 25 does an amazing job of keeping every aspect of the game interesting and fun.

If you have played Out of the Park Baseball in the past, all the usual suspects are available: Perfect Team, OOTP Developments version of Ultimate Team and Diamond Dynasty entices you right on the home screen. And while I logged into Perfect Team to open packs, I was more excited to dive into the franchise mode. This is where the game shines.

The options you have in OOTP 25 are just as rich as before. You can choose to start a standard dynasty and run a modern-day team. There is also the opportunity to take a historical team, like the 69 Mets or my 83 Orioles and see if you can repeat their glory. Or maybe you are a member of Red Sox nation and 1986 haunts you. Maybe your Bill Buckner does not let the ball go through his legs.

You can also create your own baseball world with a custom dynasty, mixing teams and players from different eras, countries, and even fictional teams. However, being an Orioles fan I went for the standard option to see if I could continue their success from last year.

Before I could get started though, I had to choose whether or not I wanted to play in Challenge Mode. Challenge mode limits the sandbox experience. There are no player editors or fantasy drafts. Commissioner mode which gives the user full league access is disabled, and during the season, the most you can simulate is a week. You also can earn rewards in Perfect Team which is a nice bonus.

Since I had limited time with the game before writing this, I decided I would try one save with Challenge Mode and one without it on. Getting into the game was easy. I had to choose which leagues I would like to include in the game. This year’s game includes Major League Baseball and all its partner leagues, the Korean Baseball Organization, the Dutch League, the British National Baseball League and the World Cup of Baseball. The latter is the unlicensed version of the World Baseball Classic.

Challenge Mode vs Standard Game

One thing is clear from playing both these modes, I have much to learn as a Major League manager and GM. The game is everything I remember and much more after 4 years of not playing. The menus are all very familiar and easy to navigate. There is an option for Dark and Light themes. There is also a classic theme that creates a very nice wood finish as the background color; however, the text on the pop-ups was not legible, something I hope the development team fixes in an update as it is a very pretty theme.

As I dove into the meat of the game, I quickly headed to my roster to see if I could make any improvements. The real-world Orioles have a pretty solid roster. Having fallen short last year, I thought I could do better than real-life Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde. The game is very accurate with the rosters. Players who are injured to start the season are injured in the game. Prospects are rated appropriately and free agents are not randomly assigned to teams.

Of course, since this was a video game, I thought I would go sign top free agent pitcher and last year’s National League Cy Young winner, Blake Snell. Being leery of why he was not signed, I offered him a player option after one year and a team option after 2. I had to make sure I didn’t make a big commitment to a player that I may regret. He accepted the offer and I got a message that the fans were ecstatic. I thought I started off well. Now it was time to get into a game and see this great 3d engine that was installed in last year’s game.

The game experience did not disappoint. Players moved fluidly, action cameras captured highlights and replays showcased statistics for the pertinent play. There are also various filters, including black and white, sepia, pencil drawing, and even crayons. I had fun playing with these different filters.

During the game, you have a lot of control. You can tell your batter to swing or not, or whether you want your pitcher to pitch around or pitch for contact. You really feel like you are the manager of the team. And short on time? You can simulate as much or as little of the game as possible, whether you want to play the whole game or just the 9th inning.

One feature that attracts many to a game such as this is trade. The trade logic is very interesting as you have your Assistant GM advising you on each trade. You can shop your players, add them to the block, as well as make them untouchable so that nobody will think about offering a trade for them. In challenge mode and only being able to sim a week at a time, the trades definitely seemed less frequent and more realistic. The AI in the standard mode seemed to go a bit buck wild with the trades. Last year’s addition of the trade deadline really enhances the trade experience.

One difference in baseball compared to other sports is the amateur draft is in-season. While I did not explore much of the prospect scouting for the purpose of this piece, it is a very rich aspect of the game that deserves a deeper look as I play the game down the line.

As I went through the whole season in each mode, I noticed that I maybe did not know as much as I thought I did. In challenge mode, my team failed to make the playoffs while in the game, where I simmed everything the Orioles made the playoffs and the Braves won the World Series. The non-challenge mode game certainly seemed more realistic in the final results, so kudos to the development team for seemingly getting the teams right.

At the beginning of the offseason, you are given a score by your owner based on how well you met your goals. You then vote for player awards at the end of the year. You can choose to be a homer and vote for all of your players or actually take your time and vote for who deserves it. I found that when I took my time, my votes were very similar to the AI general managers. Of course, it would not be a sports game without free agency and you really have to put on your big boy negotiating pants to really land that player you want.

As the offseason winds down, you prepare to do it all over again. In the first season, the game does not include spring training so that is where season 2 seemingly starts and where my time with the game ended for now. I am very excited about what updates the OOTP development team will implement as the baseball season presses on.

Two other features to look forward to are Drive for the Pennant, a single-season streamlined experience and the Hall of Fame showcase which was created in partnership with the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the game’s 25th anniversary.

Out of the Park Baseball 25 is available now on Steam and via the Out of the Park Development Website.