Metalhead Software printed the primary screenshots for Super Mega Baseball 3 this week, showcasing classically styled ballparks which can be an extra diploma faraway from the indie sports activities recreation’s arcade-like roots. They look fabulous. But they don’t like a spot that will promote me a foot-wide scorching canine.
That bogus stadium billboard (solely $39.84!) was my second-favorite gag* from 2014’s Super Mega Baseball, which inaugurated a franchise whose shock reputation led Metalhead to discreetly again away from such cartoon motifs in 2018’s Super Mega Baseball 2. The zany participant names might have remained, however their jut jaws, bubble butts, and Fred Flintstone bats departed. Metalhead understood these items created mistaken impressions: New gamers thought they had been stepping into one thing with wacky power-ups and alternate guidelines, and a few veterans felt they belied or belittled Super Mega’s severe gameplay chops.
“The word we like, to describe it, is quite a polarizing art style, I think,” Scott Drader, Metalhead’s co-founder, advised me on Thursday. “People looked at that game and the most common judgment was that it was maybe a game for kids, or not particularly deep in its treatment of baseball. The change in the art direction that we made was, let’s give this game some visuals that sell the baseball sim under the hood a little better.”
Still, Drader reassured me that the foot-wide tone should still be present in Super Mega 3’s environmental property; the sport isn’t dissing its class-clown roots fully now that it’s a grown-up recreation price a 3rd version, a real anomaly amongst a style — indie sports activities — that’s itself an anomaly.
“That stuff isn’t going away,” Drader stated. “You’ll find that, in three, there’s still a lot of that there. It’s really been about striking the right balance between where do we want to fall on the realism-versus-lighthearted spectrum.”
With gameplay anticipated to be an extra refinement of techniques that I believed had been excellent the primary two instances, that leaves it to Super Mega Baseball 3’s visuals to do many of the distinguishing. Drader and Metalhead co-founder Christian Zuger printed this week’s batch of screens in 4K decision. Even if that decision is just for the PC model (all variations can have 60 frames per second, although) with that sort of constancy out there to them, the builders wished for example a recreation that put these assets to good use.
“We want the game to look like it’s rendered at triple-A fidelity, honestly,” Drader stated. “Improving the graphics is a big part of the condition, but it’s not just [the fields] and the UI, we’ve been trying to step up the presentation across the whole game, as much in the triple-A direction as possible.”
The screens from Tuesday present some fields with a Shibe Park-y, Crosley Field-ish vibe to them, notably in additional various daylight that tries to combat by way of haze and overcast skies. There’s additionally a extra modern-looking venue set someplace within the Rockies, and what appears like an replace of the Dominican Republic subject (the one with the church belltower) that’s been part of the collection because the first recreation.
But in case you zoom in on the pictures, you’ll spot all types of weird promoting for “Error Free Taxes,” and “Murrican Motors,” and “In Da Zone,” maker of “batting cages (and regular cages).” Metalhead’s mixing of postcard baseball Americana with Grand Theft Auto-ish riffs displays a recreation that attracts on the most effective parts of simulation and arcade-style sports activities video games whereas leaving their rote or trite components apart.
Thanks to the web multiplayer that Super Mega Baseball 2 delivered, and the cross-platform play that adopted, the builders have a powerful concept that this could work with a large viewers.
In truth, cross-platform play, which was solely lately totally applied throughout all consoles in Super Mega Baseball 2’s Pennant Race, which is its on-line ranked aggressive mode. But with that functionality out there out of the field for Super Mega 3, Zuger isn’t apprehensive concerning the neighborhood for one model of the sport struggling just because there are fewer individuals on that platform considering on-line multiplayer.
Put one other method, Super Mega Baseball and its sequel’s strong critiques might have gotten new customers within the door, however on-line cross-platform play is a giant a part of the sport’s stability throughout all gadgets. “Keeping a multiplayer game like this going requires a minimum number of users to be active at any given time; if there aren’t enough users, then it kind of dies out,” Zuger stated. “Especially when launching on a new platform, the users kind of come on gradually, but they can immediately start playing against a much larger user base that’s already out there. … Like, this community can sustain itself, and also it’s really grateful.”
Super Mega Baseball 3 launches in April (no particular date but) and, since Drader, Zuger, and I spoke on Thursday, Major League Baseball introduced that it might droop its opening day by two weeks. So, on the intense aspect, Drader and Zuger’s recreation will get the good thing about being the one sort of baseball that followers have on their TV for a short time, with none of its options reflecting a season jeopardized by widespread shutdowns.
MLB The Show 20 will likely be out, too (it launched to pre-order consumers on Friday), however Drader and Zuger are assured that they’ve a recreation that, on its third iteration, is known as one thing utterly completely different, and whose worth is past merely being the best-quality baseball recreation on the Xbox One or Nintendo Switch.
“We have evidence that there are people who are willing to play both types of games, or even if they have access to a core simulation, there’s still an audience for something that’s an easier experience to dive into,” Drader stated. “At the same time, we’ve never launched right at the beginning of the baseball season. It’s a bit of a new adventure for us.”
*—My first-favorite gag was the “horse hormones” attribute buff.
Roster File is Polygon’s information and opinion column on the intersection of sports activities and video video games.