Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The launch of MLB The Show 20is nearly upon us, with early access available Friday to gamers who pre-ordered it, and everyone else joining in on the fun starting Tuesday.

This will be the 15th version of the video gamereleased by Sony Computer Entertainment, but it's shaping up to be the best, with a series of new features and upgrades to old favorites giving fans all they could ever want.

Before gamers get their hands on the latest version of the MLB simulation, let's take a look at what's new and updated.

Upgraded Franchise Mode

Since gaming in 2020 is based around RPG-style fundamentals, it only makes sense that MLB The Showwould steer into that by enhancing the level of customization available.

Franchise mode, in particular, seems to have been a big focus of SIE San Diego Studio's development process this year. Players will have the ability to rebrand and relocate teams. That can be done when you begin franchise mode by replacing at least one MLB team, or all 30 if you choose to do so.

Assuming you decide to go through a season with a current MLB team, the next chance for any rebranding and/or relocating can be done in the first phase of the offseason.

The relocation part of the game isn't exactly like picking up and moving your franchise. Gamers will only be able to choose a city from a pre-programmed list, but you don't get to design a new ballpark.

Diamond Dynasty Showdown Mode

Another integral addition to this year's game is Showdown mode in Diamond Dynasty. The feature begins with a 10-round draft in which gamers select players to form the core of a team as well as perks that can enhance its overall ability in game-specific situations.

Some of the perks include Jump Start, which gives your hitters an increased contact boost on the first two pitches of an at-bat and increased exit velocity potential when the opposing pitcher has less than 50 percent stamina remaining in a situation when the bases are empty.

As you go through Showdown and have success, more draft rounds will be added to your stock, allowing you to fill out your roster based on the way you like to play.

The final showdown involves a matchup against a legendary pitcher, so the best strategy for your team might be to go after hitters early in the draft and fill out the rest of the squad as you add more rounds.

Full Minor Leagues

For prospect junkies, one feature that has long been missing from MLB The Showis the inclusion of actual minor league rosters.

Thanks to a licensing agreement between Sony Interactive Entertainment and Minor League Baseball, prospects who will form the future backbone of their team will be available for gamers when the game drops.

In the past, even though the game has featured official minor league teams, the rosters have been filled out using generic player avatars.

The inclusion of minor league players this year will allow gamers to get a taste of what future superstars such as Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays and MacKenzie Gore of the San Diego Padres can do before they make their MLB debuts in the future.

There's also the possibility for long-suffering New York Mets fans to see if they can get Tim Tebow to play well enough in Triple-A to earn a shot at playing left field in the big leagues.

Being able to use real minor league players gives the game a more true-to-life feel because these are the names fans keep a close eye on as they think about the short- and long-term futures of their favorite franchise.

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