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By Matt Kim 2
Diamond Dynasty isn't like other Ultimate Team modes. It doesn't have a special premium currency that can only be purchased with real money or even a traditional auction house, which is just fine with most MLB The Show 18 fans. But as Diamond Dynasty has become a bigger part of MLB The Show, it has taken on some of the characteristics that have made Ultimate Team controversial in other quarters.
MLB The Show 18's new souvenirs, for example, have had a bit of a rough reception among fans in the community. Souvenirs are just what they sound like: jerseys, hats, and other random trinkets that must be exchanged in a series of objectives called "Programs" to acquire new players. These souvenirs can be acquired through packs and by other means, but often you will have to go to the marketplaced to buy them with in-game currency called "Stubs." And because they are in high demand to complete Programs, their cost can be onerous at times.
Shortly before MLB The Show 18's full release on March 27, a thread appeared on the game's subreddit calling them a 'toxin.' "We were promised that souvenirs would be avoidable and that there'd be a path for players who 'just want to play the game,' one fan wrote. "That's a blatant lie at the moment. Easily over 1/3rd of missions right now require the market, and almost all of the gameplay missions are locked behind the market ones."
Indeed, it's not terribly easy to break into a Program as matters currently stand. As a basic example, first baseman Kennys Vargas requires one Twins Road Hat and one Twins Road Jersey to unlock his initial card. Once his initial card is unlocked, you can start pursuing his in-game missions. But if you don't get these items from a pack, you're probably stuck, because a Twins road jersey is currently going for more than 2000 stubs on the marketplace.
To make matters more complicated, higher-level players like Paul Molitor require basic Programs like Kennys Vargas to proceed. So one way or another you're going to bump up against the problem of having to find hats. Add that up across MLB The Show's two dozen or two Programs, and you're going to spend a lot of time buying in-game clothing. The simplest solution, then, is to simply dump a $100 or more into buying the in-game currency in order to circumvent the hassle
Bizarrely, you can't even put the hats and jerseys on your own players. Unlike every other Ultimate Team mode, MLB The Show has a custom uniform creator, preventing you from simply choosing the uniform of your favorite team. Hats, jerseys, and other items are simply debris to fill up your inventory.
These mechanics have prompted a good deal of discussion in The Show community. One Diamond Dynasty-focused podcast asked its readers whether they would prefer souvenirs or in-game events and Battle Royale-focused missions like previous years (the responses barely favored the latter). Various Reddit threads have likewise debated their relative merits.
Over on Operation Sports, one of the largest sports gaming sites on the internet, the caps and jerseys were bashed as a "cash grab."
"It feels like they have absolutely changed the market by making the programs require more trade-ins of items, resulting in less be in the market and driving the cost up due to hoarding," an Operation Sports commenter wrote. "Then they introduced something that the limit to 1 item per pack (scarce quantity) resulting in people having to pay that higher cost in the market which requires stubs. That's economics 101 and pretty in your face.
One prominent member of the sports gaming community slightly disagreed when I asked them their thoughts on souvenirs. "I'm okay with them—just new items to out into programs. They aren't exactly affecting pack odds as they are taking the place of sponsorship/equipment when they pop up," they said. But then they added, "Having more items you need to acquire is a little iffy to me."
It's early days yet, and as some have contended, the market may yet be flooded by souvenirs as players rip packs, driving down their prices. We're still a couple days away from Diamond Dynasty's first really big pack opening day, which will coincide with the beginning of baseball's regular season. In the meantime, the best way to grind in Diamond Dynasty is simply to play Conquest—the wargame-like mode in which you play games to steal fans and conquer territories. Conquest is loaded with rich rewards this year, and appears to be more or less free of souvenirs, making it an ideal place for grinding up a good starting team as well as money.
If souvenir prices do remain high, they'll add another barrier to entry to collecting top players outside of packs. That would be too bad since one of Diamond Dynasty's traditional virtues has been that its top-tier players are relatively within reach. It's not like FIFA where you almost have to spend money to have any kind of shot at superstars like Messi and Ronaldo.
We'll see how things shake out as the baseball season begins in earnest. In the meantime, Diamond Dynasty has other problems, including the return of persistent network errors following games.
I'm currently in the middle of my review of MLB The Show 18. Look forward to my full thoughts when I wrap it up tomorrow. In the meantime, check out guides to MLB The Show 18's prospects and the best budget team in Diamond Dynasty.
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