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Out of the Park Baseball 21: Review

So fun it’s dangerous

If you listened to the most recent Rays Your Voice podcast, you heard Brett Rutherford and myself discussing our simulated Rays seasons on Out of the Park Baseball 21.

For the uninitiated, Out of the Park Baseball 21 is certainly the most realistic baseball simulation game on the market, sporting the slogan: The ultimate baseball sandbox, that couldn’t be more accurate.

Within the game, which is offered for PC and Macs, as well as on Steam, there are a nearly unlimited amount of things you can do with your baseball team, each so worthy of deep diving, that although I’ve had the game almost two months now, I still have only cracked the surface of what the game is capable of.

Let’s go through the three main ways I’d recommend to play.

Standard Game

Because this is a simulation game first and foremost, the “standard game” refers to taking a team with 2020 rosters and playing out what might be referred to as “Franchise Mode” in something like MLB: The Show.

Where OOTP really shines is in its depth, and this mode is no exception.

If so chosen, the user can truly have full and total control over every aspect of the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays. (I mean, I assume you’re picking the Rays, but hey, choose whatever team your heart desires.) That extends from full roster control all the way down to the lowest of low rookie ball levels (and, unlike The Show, the prospects actually mirror the real world, with updated 20-80 scouting reports released monthly), to the club financials where you have a hand in basically every item on the Balance Sheet.

It’s easy to lose a day, a week, heck even a month while you’re making the final push for your MBA... not that that happened to anyone writing this article...

Historical Game

This is a mode that I admittedly have been pushing off out of fear for how much of my time I could lose to it. The premise is that you can play any season from 1871 up to 2019 (yes, 1871!) and take control of a team and re-simulate. For any baseball history buff, this should have you frothing at the mouth.

Its sister mode of play, which is maybe even more enticing, is the Custom Game in which you can do the same simulations but while also crossing over players from different eras. As it says on the OOTP website: “How would Babe Ruth fare against Clayton Kershaw? Find out!”

That blends perfectly to our final mode to highlight here, which is where I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on these days:

Perfect Team

Perfect Team is a mode that OOTP added to their repertoire in 2018 and has become a massive hit. The premise is vaguely in the world of FIFA Ultimate Team, or Diamond Dynasty in MLB: The Show, where teams are built through packs/points. The players come from across all eras, allowing for rosters filled with a sumptuous blend of 1999 Fred McGriff, Legend Mel Ott, Future Legend Wander Franco and 2020 Cody Bellinger.

Each player can create up to three teams which are then placed in leagues ranking from Rookie Level all the way up to the Perfect Team Level, with eight stops along the way. Leagues are filled with 29 other real, online players of the game, with promotion and relegation deciding who moves up and who is left behind.

It’s arguably one of the five most addicting substances on planet earth.

* * *

If you can’t tell by now, Out of the Park Baseball 21 comes HIGHLY recommended, and in all honesty, it has so many amazing nooks and crannies that a review of the game doesn’t do it nearly the justice it deserves because the article would have to be the length of Moby Dick.

I got one friend to bite the bullet and buy it and we spent a (very fun) three hour phone call just getting into some of the nuances of only the Perfect Team mode. For those of you out there lucky enough to be rather bored these days, OOTP is honestly the perfect baseball remedy.