Wheat child o’ mine.
When thinking of simulator games, popular titles that come to mind are Flight Simulator, Train Simulator, Sim City and The Sims. There is, however, one simulator that this year celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a new release – Farming Simulator 19. Boasting the largest vehicle roster ever (now including John Deere) and updated mechanics/graphics, how does the new Farming Simulator (hay) stack up?
Upon starting Farming Simulator 19 for the first-time, players get to create their own farmer (the character customisation is quite impressive), where they want to have their farm located (America or Europe), and what they want to farm/harvest. Players are encouraged to play the tutorials to learn how to plant, grow and harvest crops. From the outset, you’ll notice how beautiful the environment, vehicles and weather are. Having a crop field sway naturally in the wind is hypnotising, making you feel like you’re on a real farm.
Once you’ve gone through the tutorials and you start ploughing and planting your fields, Farming Simulator 19 starts to really shine. The first time you use your harvester and harvest crops is a strange yet satisfying feeling (like using-a-Dyson-on-a-shagpile-carpet satisfying). Farming Simulator 19’s graphics, attention to detail, and gameplay are a-maize-ing. Having to activate farming attachments, unfold them and lower it into the ground before beginning really immerses you into the world. Players don’t only need to manage their crops, they also need to tend to their livestock, with a variety of animals including pigs, cows, sheep, (look at all those) chickens and now horses!
A key note to remember is Farming Simulator 19 is, at its heart, a simulator. You’ll need to refill the fuel in your tractor, get it serviced regularly, refill the seeds in your planters, and remove weeds in the fields (as they lower the value of your crops). The first time you’ll be made aware of this is in the tutorials. Early on in the game, players learn how to plough their field in preparation for the seeding process, and this is where trial and error comes into play. Upon dragging and ploughing your fields, if you don’t keep your tractor straight, you’ll have a crooked field, though this does allow for some creative designs in your crop fields.
When starting the ‘Career’ mode (the main mode in the game), players are advised to play the tutorial. Each tutorial takes roughly 20 minutes, and there are six of them, ranging from crop harvesting and logging/forestry, to making hay bales. Having to play roughly 90 minutes to two hours of tutorials (some of which repeat themselves) can slow down your experience with Farming Simulator 19, so you’ll need to dedicate a bit of time.
Being a simulator, the controls are also quite complex. Entering vehicles, driving and using equipment is straightforward enough, however some of the equipment requires a university degree. Using some of the necessary farming equipment is overly complex. There are some button configurations that could’ve been made easier by utilising both thumb sticks. One of which is a forestry crane (we’re not farmers, we don’t know the technical term… nor did we get the degree that it requires) used to load wood into the back of a trailer. Having to hold one L1/LB to move the crane up and down, and hold R1/RB to rotate the claw device is baffling. Yet if you hold both L1 and R1 (LB and RB) it’ll activate the stability legs for the trailer. (It was at this moment that we decided not to be in the logging/forestry industry).
One strange missing feature is a bird’s eye camera. You can opt to play Farming Simulator 19 in either first person, or third person (in vehicles only – when not in a vehicle the game is in first person), yet surprisingly there is no option for a bird’s eye view, which would come in handy with crop/field work.
Farming Simulator 19 is beautiful, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. It does have a learning curve that new players to the series will need to wrap their head around, but thankfully the tutorials more than help. If you’re looking for a good change of pace in a new game that isn’t a shooter, if you spend some time with it then Farming Simulator 19 will grow on you. (That’s the last pun… We couldn’t resist.)