An Impressively Deep Managerial Experience

For anyone who’s looking to oversee every aspect of being in charge of a baseball team, from contracts to player development to in-game strategy, Out Of The Park Baseball 25 is here to satisfy all of your whims and desires. Giving you the opportunity to assemble a team or assume control of real squads from any historical era, the newest entry in the series furthers its reputation for being an accurate and incredibly detailed simulation of what it’s like to be at the helm of a franchise.

With OOTP 25, you’ll be responsible for the performance of your team on the field, allowing you as much influence as possible from the confines of the front office and the steps of the dugout. OOTP 25‘s strength lies in its unrivaled depth, providing an overwhelming amount of options across a plethora of screens, each containing scores of options that can shape how your team will fare in games. This includes the ability to customize teams and play in leagues, both real and fictional, for as many seasons as you like while generations of players come and go as the years pass.

The introduction of a new player development lab gives you even more say now in terms of what aspects of players you’d like to see them work to improve, effectively adding personal trainer to your long list of job duties. The game’s card-collecting mode, Perfect Team, is addictive in how it facilitates building and bolstering a team that can compete in online leagues and tournaments.

The biggest weakness in the game remains its in-game presentation, where the graphics and animations continue to improve but still leave a lot to be desired in how they portray the stat and attribute-based action unfolding on an inning by inning basis. There also still seems to be some fine tuning needed to accurately reflect the way in which prospects on teams develop, as it’s unrealistically rare for budding stars to reach their full potential over the course of their careers.

Here’s a rundown of what aspects of the game are worthy of major league accolades and where it continues to flounder at a minor league level.

What I Like

The Leagues

One of the most appealing aspects of Out Of The Park Baseball 25 is the multitude of ways you can set up a league, offering you the ability to tailor them to your own personal preferences. Obviously, you can jump into a basic setup in which you play out the current 2024 MLB season using all of the actual players and teams that just started their quests for the World Series in real life, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

An option to assume control of a team in a historical league is staggering in how it includes the chance to guide any team from all the way back when baseball began in the 1800s up until modern day. Want to manage Murderers’ Row with the Yankees in the 1920s or Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris on the Bronx Bombers in the ’60s? No problem. Would you like to lead the Montreal Expos on the World Series run they were deprived of in the strike year of 1994? You can do that too. All of baseball’s history is at your fingertips, and you get to decide to which era you’d like to travel to.

Another fun way that you can set up a league in OOTP 25 is with entirely fictional players that will become as real to you as any that you’ve ever seen in the majors. As you progress through seasons, you’ll be responsible for guiding them from when they’re merely prospects you draft through to when they become superstars at the major league level. You can even create and customize new teams and then assemble them within divisions any way you prefer. If you’re seeking an online experience with other virtual managers, simply peruse the OOTP forums for leagues that are in the process of forming and see how your team-building skills stack up against other people. You’re liable to spend hours upon hours poring over your lineups and farm systems as you tinker with their construction in the hopes of somehow finding the winning formula.

The Depth Of Strategies

As you navigate through the seemingly endless number of screens in OOTP 25 that populate whichever league you’re competing within, it becomes obvious that there’s no shortage of strategies you can choose to employ to put yourself in the best position to get wins. This starts with the kind of basics that you’d expect from most serious baseball games, such as managing your team’s lineups and pitching staff across the different levels of your organization. Depending on how realistic you want your particular league to be though, you may also need to pay close attention to the financials of your team and meet the priorities of your owner if you want to keep them satisfied (and by extension, your own job secure).

Because you’ll likely find yourself simulating a portion of games to get through seasons faster, there are a number of ways you can ensure that you’re still taking a hands-on approach to how the players on your team perform. This involves manipulating sliders to decide on how often you want your team and even particular players to be looking for opportunities to do things like steal bases or use defensive shifts depending on specific game situations. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your team’s scouting to give yourself a better chance of discovering the next great talent, whether in America or through international channels. That’s even before you hit the field, where the decisions you make from the dugout in key moments can often mean the difference between success or failure during games.

Player Development Lab

A new addition to OOTP 25, the player development lab allows you to have players work on specific aspects of their game during the offseason and spring training to either improve weaknesses or accentuate strengths. By concentrating on certain skills, you can now attempt to transform someone like a power hitter to have them perhaps become a little better at fielding or on the bases.

It’s important to note that while you can put in the effort to get them better at these parts of the game, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the work will pay off. It’s realistic though that players can’t become elite in areas just because you’re having them put in the time, as it’s often true that you can’t will a player to become better. As you might expect with any new feature, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out with the player development lab to have more prospects live up to their full potential. In theory though at least, it’s nice to be able to exert more control over what kind of player you want someone in your organization to become.

Perfect Team

As far as card-collecting modes in sports games go, Perfect Team in OOTP 25 takes the whole format to another level entirely through its organization and the sheer number of cards available. You’ll begin with a starter team of mostly low-rated cards at the outset and then can improve your team just by logging into the mode every day since you’ll receive a standard card pack each time you check in. As your games are simulated, you’ll accrue Perfect Points that you can use to purchase more packs or target particular cards in the card shop marketplace. The amount of cards from across baseball history that you can obtain is downright overwhelming, and you can receive rewards for completing certain collection missions.

You’ll find that hours can pass quickly as you become immersed in adding players to your roster and making tweaks to how you assemble your lineups and pitching staff. You can also get intricate as to what strategies you want to execute in games, including utilizing platoons at positions and deciding how you want to deploy your bullpen depending on in-game situations. The games against other players in the community will be simulated about every 20 minutes or so, making it exciting to log on in the morning or after you go out somewhere to see how your club has fared.

Based on your performance, you’ll be placed in a league that has other teams roughly at your same level and are able to ascend to higher leagues if you put enough wins together over the course of a season. There are even separate modes where you can enter your team in tournaments or draft a team that will put you on more of a level playing field against opponents.

What I Don’t Like

Presentation & Animations

The biggest drawback to OOTP 25, as you might expect from a management style game like this, is the way the action unfolds on the field when you do choose to play a game rather than simulate it. To be fair, the game has made some significant strides in recent years to attempt to have its appearance become a little more dynamic. For instance, the 3-D presentation that’s available now gives you a decent amount of immersion, complete with a nice 360 pan of whatever stadium you’re situated in prior to the first pitch. They’ve even added some new retro visuals this year that are essentially filters to reflect different eras of baseball. That said, the graphics still leave a little something to be desired, with the players being rather small on the screen and completely devoid of any distinctive features to help separate them from each other.

It’s the animations though that continue to be the most underwhelming aspect to experiencing a game. They’re extremely clunky and limited in what they’re able to portray when it comes to swings of the bat, ball physics, and the movement of the fielders and baserunners. It’s too often that you’ll see balls slide through the infield when it appears as if a fielder could have been able to make a play on it. Yes, sometimes players will attempt a dive on defense and occasionally they’ll even come up with the ball, but they don’t showcase the kind of range that you would expect.

Outfielders are frequently slow to get the ball back in the infield too, preventing them from the chance to throw a runner out on the bases when it seems like it may have been possible. Of course, it’s clear that the results are preordained based on the attributes of all those involved and some amount of chance, so what you’re seeing isn’t an exact representation of what’s occurred, but the details still can’t help but be somewhat disappointing.

Bottom Line

Out Of The Park Baseball 25 is about as comprehensive a managerial baseball video game as you could hope for and just as good as you would expect from the venerable series. The diversity and options within leagues, whether online or offline, give you an astounding number of ways that you can play. The depth of the statistics, attributes, and strategy contained within the multitude of screens keep you informed and in control of all matters pertaining to your team.

This includes a new player development lab that might still need some refinement but serves its purpose well in terms of putting you in charge of what areas of their game players will improve. Perfect Team is an incredibly addictive card-collecting mode that offers plenty of incentive to have you logging in often to refine your team. The only downside with the game is during games where the graphics and animations of players are still coming up a little short.