One of the great things about video games is that they can transport you to far of lands and allow you to be just about anyone or anything. You can easily become a Space Marine, mercenary, elite hacker and more. But what if you are looking for a more down to earth, hands in the mud type of occupation? Focus Home Interactive and Giants Software have just the thing for you – Farming Simulator 19.
This year’s installment of the popular simulation game has many of the same features as past versions and adds a few more. The core of the game is that you run a farm, simple right? Not exactly. It is up to you to plow, seed, harvest and then deliver your crops to market. But you must do all of this while managing finances, keeping your equipment in good shape, tending to your animals – if you decide to have them, and making sure that you are getting the best prices for your harvest.
The game has 3 modes to choose from. The first one will set you up with a farm, equipment, crops in your silo, and even some crops planted. If you are looking for a bit more of a challenge you can go for the 2nd option. You are given a hefty bankroll and it is up to you to buy your land, equipment, and even your house. For veteran players you can pick the 3rd and final option. A meager bank account that must be used to purchase everything and build your dream farm. This is by far the closest thing to reality you will find in the game.
As I said, game play is basically plow, plant, harvest, sell, repeat – but there is so much more to the game. You have to decide if you are going to drive your tractors yourself or will you hire someone to plow your fields for you. The up side of having someone else do it is of course that you can do something else at the same time. This will allow you to knock out chores fairly quickly. But workers come at a cost – wages. There are other costs as well, but I will get into that in a minute. Another important choice is what to plant. Some crops like sunflower, canola and soybeans sell at a higher price, while potatoes, cotton, sugar cane and beets require specialized harvesters, which is an added expense. Once you have harvested your crop you have to pick a selling point. Some things like eggs, wool, and wool can only be sold at one location, but most other crops have multiple points of sale. The closest isn’t always the one that is offering the highest price, and if you continue to sell the same item to a buyer they will start offering you a lower price for it.
Aside from farming crops you are able to have animals. This is something that you could do before, but this year they have added horses to the mix. If you want to raise horses, cows, pigs, sheep, or chickens you will have to purchase a pen or pasture for them and make sure they are fed and kept clean. This means hay for stalls and pastures. Chickens are easy, just feed them and clean up the spilled food and they are happy. Soon you will be neck deep in eggs. After a few days they will even multiple to start to fill your enclosure. If you have time on your hands, you can also do contracts for other farmers. They will pay you to harvest and deliver their crops, fertilize, plow, or mow fields. You can either use your equipment or lease the needed gear from the shop. If you lease equipment, you will get a lower pay out.
If you don’t want to farm alone, you can set up an online multiplayer game. You lose the option of having a pre-set up farm in this mode, but with up to 6 players, you should be up and running in no time. You can allow anyone or just friends to join your session, which is a good thing because you all share the same pool of money and someone could easily wipe you out in just a few minutes. The best part of playing with friends, besides the division of labor, is that you have someone to chat with while you are tending to your fields. It also cuts down on the amount of workers you need to higher to complete daily tasks.
One of the nice things about the game is the sheer amount of customization options. You can have the game as realistic or as “arcade” as you want to – to a point. Lower your fuel usage, speed up crop growth, make it so crops never wither, and even get rid of pesky weeds. Want the days to go by quicker or slower, just adjust the time setting from real time to x120. You can also toggle what your hired helpers do. This is where hiring someone can save you even more time in the long run. You can set it so that if you hire someone to plant a field they will refill your seeder and even the tractor fuel tank. This will save you a ton of time refilling them manually. It also saves you the time driving all your equipment back and forth to the gas station. The reason I said to a point as far as realism is because some things can’t be changed and will always remind you that you are playing a game.
The main thing I am talking about is damage. Your vehicles do wear down as they are used and will need maintenance and to be cleaned if you are worried about how they look. But you can ram them into street signs, other cars, buildings, or drive them off a cliff and they will emerge scratch free. I was rushing and accidentally drove my tractor, which was hauling an uncovered trailer full of wheat, off a cliff. It flipped, rolled and bounced its way down until it landed on its side at the bottom. I turned the wheels, drove backwards and forwards rocking the wheels until I was able to get it upright and then drove on to sell my grain. That’s right, not only did I not damage anything, but I also didn’t drop a single grain of wheat.
The graphics are pretty realistic, until you start to look a bit closer. What I mean by this is that if you are pulling a trailer behind your tractor you will notice small shrubs clipping through the bottom of it. On certain vehicles you will also notice a slight distortion around the top and side of it when you are driving. At first, I thought this was just there to represent the exhaust, but I soon realized it was in the wrong area and covered too large of an area. It is almost like looking though a small puddle of water on a glass pane. To avoid both of these issues all you have to do it switch to 1st person mode and you will be sitting behind the wheel of your equipment and not have to worry about it.
A game where you are going to be farming most of the time is one that is bound to have some issues in the sound category. The machinery, animals, and nature all sound find, but if you are playing for long periods of time, face it the rumble of that engine is going to get on your nerves. Luckily each vehicle is equipped with a radio that will play your favorite station. There are 5 to pick from, ranging from country to 70’s music. You can even decide if you want the radio to play just when you are in a piece of gear or always. The problem again comes with longer gaming sessions. Even though there are 5 different stations, each only has a short playlist, so it can get quite monotonous. Since there are no real audio cues in the game, you will probably find yourself turning on your favorite music and muting the game.
One thing about this game, and many others, that really frustrates me is the achievements. This is more of an FYI to players and any developers than something that is going to take points from the score. Many of the achievements in the game revolve around cultivating, fertilizing, sowing, and harvesting certain amounts of land. This is fine because it is a farming game and that is what you do. The issue that I have is that everything must be done on your own farm to count. This means that everything you do for contracts only counts for the contact achievements. Also, it appears that everything must be done in the same game. This means if you spend 20 hours on 1 farm and decide to start a new save file all of you progress is lost. I spent about 5 hours on my 1st farm, learning the ropes and trying different things like cutting trees, doing contracts and getting animals. When I started a new farm to play for real I knew I only needed to cut down 4 more trees for an achievement. Instead, it required me to cut down the entire 25 before it would pop. This is nothing super major, but still frustrating considering only 1 achievement specifically states it must be obtained in 1 game save (Play for 10 hours).
Farming Simulator 19 is out now on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam. With over 300 vehicles and tools, there is a world to get lost in here. Despite the issues with the game, it is a lot of fun to play. There is a bit of a learning curve, like most sim games, but once you get the hang of it you will be off to the races. While not for everyone, if you are a fan of the genre or looking for something new to explore, this is one title worth your time. Don’t be surprised if you sit down to play and several hours pass before you put it down.