Baseball is my favorite sport and I always know that the regular season is right around the corner when the sport’s annual video game releases come out. Today is that day for Out of the Park Baseball 16, which is releasing on PC through their website and Steam. This year’s game is highlighted by an official MLB license and plenty more. Brad Cook will be calling into this week’s show to talk about the game, so be sure to listen in on Saturday night. Between now and then, I hope to type up some early thoughts on the game. Screenshots of the game can be found at the end of this article.
OOTP 16’s full list of new and improved features include:
2015 Opening Day Rosters
The brand new 2015 roster sets includes all Opening Day MLB rosters, via a free update to be released shortly after Opening Day, as well as the complete minor league system down to the rookie leagues. All major league (and certain minor league) player ratings are based on Baseball Prospectus’ industry-leading player forecasting system, PECOTA. The thousands of remaining minor league players are rated manually by OOTP’s established research team.
New international and independent leagues added
Last year, OOTP 15 introduced seven international leagues in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Italy and The Netherlands. This year, OOTP 16 adds the Australian Baseball League to that list, along with several independent leagues in the US and Japan. All of those leagues feature real rosters, with countless hours of work invested in researching realistic player biographical information, statistics, and ratings.
New team owner goals
Team owners now give short- and long-term goals, which may include: winning the World Series within X seasons; fixing a certain weakness on the roster; extending the contract of a star player; and much more. Players’ abilities to meet those goals not only decides if they’ll be fired but also determines if their contract will be extended at a higher salary, another new feature added this year. (The “cannot be fired” option still exists in OOTP 16.)
Improved team finances and reporting
The team finance system has been redesigned, including new season ticket sales, a team finances screen based on widgets, a new accounting screen, and much more. In addition, the finance-related AI was recoded, resulting in more realistic player contracts and negotiations, as well as more stable long-term team finances.
Completely redesigned manager and coaches system
Managers and coaches have certain personalities and special skills or preferences, which will result in plenty of interesting choices. Managerial choices include easy-going stat-heads and hard-nosed veterans, while some pitching coaches excel at working with power pitchers and others are better suited at overseeing finesse pitchers.
Recoded team strategy system
Players can set their teams’ in-game strategies faster and easier than ever before, but if they play in GM-only mode, they may find that some managers won’t allow certain strategies to be dictated.
Better playoff coverage
A new Pennant Chase screen displays the strength of the remaining schedule and the chance for each team to make the playoffs. The related news coverage was also improved.
Improved 3D ball flight
OOTP 15 introduced support for 3D stadiums and realistic 3D ball flight, which was a big step-up for the series. OOTP 16 improves on that 3D presentation and includes great-looking 3D models of all 30 MLB ballparks.
• New play modes (Manager only, GM only, and GM + Manager)
• An improved simulation engine that incorporates the latest research and trends, such as infield shifts and pitcher usage
• Rainouts with automatic rescheduling (including double-headers), adding the realism that comes with rain-shortened and cancelled games
• Better in-game sound effects
• An enhanced interface, such as a player info pop-up when resting the mouse pointer over a button which links to a player, or automatic syncing between lineups and depth charts when making changes to either of them.
• Player profile icons that let the user easily see how many times he has won certain awards, been a World Series winner, and more
• A new Find-A-Player feature: Define certain criteria (ratings, stats, salary etc.) and find the right player
• Recoded All-Star Game features with real voting (including online league support)
• Realistic OOTP Hall of Fame selection process, including simulated voting and new stats like JAWS, HoF Standards, Black & Grey Ink Tests
• More player awards: for example, Most Valuable Player, Playoff Series MVPs, best hitters by position, and Reliever of the Year
• Better playoff history tracking, including career playoff stats for all real players in the database and playoff leaderboards
• Alternate currencies (Euro, Pounds Sterling, Yen, etc.)
• The option to define background pictures for teams and leagues
• And more