A light baseball sim with a heavy dose of real MLB fantasy baseball!
Sometimes you just have to keep an open mind with upcoming mobile games. Take MLB Live Challenge, for instance. It's a light baseball sim that requires you to use player cards to field the best possible team, which is something we've seen before. Ah, but Konami has added something extra to this freemium title: a dose of fantasy baseball. Got your attention now, right?
You can thank the game's full MLB license for making the fantasy aspect possible. As real big league games are played, the cards in MLB Live Challenge will update daily to reflect each player's performance on the diamond. So if the game was live at the beginning of the 2013 season, you may have been pretty happy with your B.J. Upton and Josh Hamilton cards, whereas you'd probably be pretty upset with them now.
If you really think you know your real life baseball, that knowledge can benefit your team. Every day, you'll be able to assign Challenge Points to players you think will have big games. If you put three on Miguel Cabrera and he drives in five runs, you'll get three times the rewards. It's (fake) gambling on your own team that would make Pete Rose proud.
The gameplay has a few differences from the norm as well. While each ballgame is simmed, it will pause for a Key Moment where you can spin a wheel to get a better outcome on that particular at bat. The Konami rep who showed me the game on the E3 floor used it to turn a single into a game-winning homer, which was probably the best possible example of how it could come in handy.
Opposing teams will have a more human feel, because they'll all be squads put together by another human player. You'll move around the MLB playing series of games, with rewards dependent on how many games you win. Even a four-game losing streak can be salvaged if you can just eke out one win before moving on.
Konami is planning on having an auction house feature for getting rid of unused or duplicate cards. Or you can put those extra players to use by sacrificing them to gain extra power for your best cards, a feature used in many similar games that is cool as long as you don't think about it too literally.
A Facebook version of the game is already live, but MLB Live Challenge feels like the type of game that is made for mobile – and the two versions will work together anyway. Look for it later this summer on iOS, and get ready to have your real life and virtual favorite sluggers work together for you.