Game: Out of the Park Baseball 14 (OOTP14)
Developer: OOTP Developments
Modes: Franchise, Online Franchise
Cool Features: Incredible contracts system, massive player and coaches database, complete customizability, plenty of add-ons, and a robust online community.
Total Score: 98/100 (A+)
• Amazing contract details (arbitration, minor league contracts, team/player options, waiver wires, Rule 5 drafts, etc.).
• Massive and accurate rosters.
• Detailed scouting and free agency, now with more complex and realistic international scouting systems.
• Massively customizeable.
• Advanced-stat friendly.
• New, cleaner interface.
• Real-time simulation options.
• International leagues.
• Online/multiplayer functionality (still haven’t had the occasion to try).
• Authentic and unilateral rule changes, as well as total customizability, if’n you dislike the AI’s random changes.
• Authentic development and declines for rookies, prospects, and veterans.
• You can get fired. Owners can die. Rules can change. The game keeps itself fresh, constantly. Loved ones go neglected.
• Many and lengthy loading screens, though it seemed to be better in OOTP14 than in 13, but maybe my expectations were what mostly changed.
• Still no BABIP for hitters. No LOB% for pitchers.
• Unpleasant in-game / game-management interface — busy, ugly, and unchanged from OOTP 11. It is more bearable, I discovered, upon enlarging the window size. Baseball Mogul still has the upper hand here.
General notes on the updates:
• It would be cool to have independent league stats for players out of the the MLB, much as how Baseball Mogul does it. There are supposedly “hidden” indy leagues, but I’m guessing “hidden” means they don’t exist until they poop out a player via the scouting system.
• Though pitcher’s have it, still no BABIP for hitters. I look at BABIP a lot. I would like BABIP for hitters.
• The pitching setup is MUCH easier to manage. I did not find the graphical depth chart particularly useful, but I had already become accustomed to the old depth chart / lineup system.
• Why did no one before suggest using a wider screen setting?! I used the narrow, default screen of over a year, and it allowed me to watch MLB.tv while playing, which is nice, but the screen, when made wider, rearranges in many useful ways (such as additional transaction boxes in the overview section, more and more useful displays in the in-game / game-management screen, etc.).
• Also: Keep on eye out for the add-ons. In particular, the all-in-one mod, which includes realistic faces and accurate team logos, among other things.
• The new international management system gets some getting used to, and I’m still not keen on having my Shortlist populated by dozens of low-ceiling players, but it seems more authentic than the previous system — though still a little less complicated than reality. The new international free agent period is quite fun, though I’m not sure how that spending gets allocated in my budget. I hit a wall in my int’l FA spending at one point, which is realistic, but I’m not sure if that was because I had spent so much the previous season (which would be the most realistic) or if I had merely run out of cash.
• Here is their official list of updates. I appreciate it when companies avoid abusing needy gamers by merely updating the player ratings and then slapping a new number on the title. OOTP Development genuinely improved the game.
• At some point, this game has nowhere to go but sideways. At 98 A+, this rendition of OOTP breaks the old record of 97 A+, set by none other than OOTP13.
Purchasing: ($39.99 at OOTPDevelopments.com)
Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.