Coming from a rural background I was pretty excited to try this game. While I like Farming Simulator 15 and will likely sink an unmentionable number of hours into it, I still feel like some aspects of the game left wanting.
The game is exactly what the title suggests, it tries to give you the experience of farming without all the hard work and nasty smells. You have the option of starting in either Bjornholm which is set in the hills of a Scandinavian country or Westbridge Hills USA, a more advanced map. Selecting Bijonholm will give you a quick introductory tour of how to use the basic equipment you’re given to start off with while more advanced tutorials are available from the main menu. Though the tutorials show you how to use the machinery they lack information on actual farming.
The available maps have preset, numbered fields that you can purchase to expand your farm and various locations where you can buy supplies and sell your products. Some of the areas like the grain silo and the windmill will be in competition for products like grains, so it might pay to shop around for the best prices. Money is not easy or quick to come by in this game so any additional cash is welcome. You also have pre-built buildings where you can store various products and raise your animals. Everything is connected by paved and unpaved roads and dotted with various static “neighbors” houses that serve to enrich the landscape and give you somewhere to sell your eggs.
Being a sandbox game you are pretty much free to do whatever you want though cash cropping will likely be your only source of income in the beginning. You’re given a Comia c6 harvester, a Köckerling trio cultivator, two ArgoStar 6.61 tractors, two Hürlimann H488 trubo tractors, a wagon and a plow to begin working your first three fields. To give you a feeling of “realism” the game makes you go over every inch of those fields multiple times to work, seed and harvest them. The machinery you are first given is not the best making it time consuming venture best paired with a Netflix binge session. You can keep an eye on the growth of your fields through your farm management interface accessed by pressing “I”. The interface gives you an overview of your fields, your animals, machinery and stats. You need to make sure to get your fields harvested on time or they will wither and you will lose everything.
When you do go to sell your wares you will be introduced to a fundamental aspect of farming life: you do not get anything near the value you would expect for your product for the amount of work you put into it. It takes days to get even close to the cash needed to buy a new piece of machinery while machine maintenance costs eat away at your savings. In this vein the game is pretty close to farming in real life, you never can seem to get ahead. You can eventually hire minions (aka helpers) to work your fields for you or you can rope a friend or a significant other to join you in multiplayer mode.
Missions can be found at message boards at various locations that will require a certain amount of a product or a certain piece of machinery to complete. These missions can be an excellent source of income and usually offer you more for your products.
Aside from the sheer amount of time it takes to work the fields I don’t think I’d call this game a simulator. Some of the physics where very unrealistic, though they were a step above other iterations of the game where vehicles could get caught up on terrain inclines. In my first crack at the tutorial I accidentally got my columbine caught up on a fence. In real life I would have simply torn the fence out the ground and likely damaged the columbine head resulting in an extremely angry father and a long night of rebuilding a fence. Instead I had to figure out how to reset the columbine so I could continue. I also unintentionally dropped the weight off the front of one of my tractors and dragged it in front of the planter for several minutes before realizing what had happened. In real life I would have totaled the planter.
Time was also very unrealistic. You seem to be growing some sort of mutant GMO crops that are ready to harvest in two to three in game days. Despite how fast your crops seem to grow your chickens only produce one egg per game day (which appear on the ground instead of in the chicken coops) and you don’t have to feed your chickens. Apparently they can get enough food from the little pasture they live in. You also don’t need to eat, drink or sleep and can work 24/7. If this was actually how farming worked there would be no global food issues, we would all be so fat and well fed that we would simply roll from place to place. Overall, not very realistic.
I appreciate the realism the game strives for in the equipment (which had very realistic speeds and weights) and how you work your fields but it also feels like a lot of the aspects of farming are glossed over. It’s not all driving a tractor around, a lot of your time is sunk into caring for animals if you have them and repairing and maintaining your machinery and buildings. That being said, I can understand why they focused on that aspect of farming: it’s the easiest to portray. A true simulator would be very difficult to create and complicated to play.
Overall the game functions smoothly and the graphics are beautiful. Like Skyrim there are some moments where you pause on a hill top and watch the sun come up. Driving and working with the machinery is intuitive with a list of buttons and their various functions always present on the left of your screen. All of your tractors come with cruise control so your thumb doesn’t get sore and its game pad compatible. I found playing very relaxing and more than a bit addictive.
Review by Breanna