Farming Simulator feels like someone looked at Farmville, laughed maniacally, and said “that is adorable” and then came back a few years later with this game. This game is so conflicting I don’t even know if I can write a proper review for it. It’s so well made, so detailed, yet so tedious and frustrating at the same time. It’s almost as if someone saw their kid taking for granted what farmers do for a living, made this game and forced them to play it. And at the end, the kid cried, for he had some understanding of what these people do on a daily basis. Not to say that you’ll come out the other end with a perfect understanding of how farming is done and what it’s like, but you’ll have damn good idea and come out with a new found respect for farmers worldwide.
I’m not sure who this game was made for. Who was asking for this game? Sure enough there are people out there who stream this game for a living and they deserve an award, or a medal, or a hug because this game will physically and mentally exhaust you. Maybe that was the point; give you a taste of what farmers go through on an annual basis. This isn’t some game where you plant your crops, leave, wait for them to grow then come back and auto harvest them. No, you need to know what you’re doing and when to do it. You want to know what it’s like to work hard and still end up with crippling debt; this game will give you that too. But in all its labor intensiveness, there is a beauty about the game. Giants Software put a lot of work and detail into all the aspects of farming that matter. Sure there is a small world that you roam in, and while there is quite a bit of detail in there to make it come to life the true beauty lies in the machines.
There are farming machines for days in this game. There is a piece of equipment for every single facet of farming, so much so that it can feel overwhelming and daunting at the start of a campaign even after going through the well done tutorials. This is made all the more daunting by the fact that you constantly have to purchase equipment and drive to the other side of town to pick it up. And then there’s the farming itself. Every little step done in the real world plays a part here: plowing, sowing, fertilizing, harvesting, selling and some other steps that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Already feeling tired? Trying harvesting a large field with a harvester going 10 mph. I won’t tell you how long that takes, but let’s just say you better have a few hours to spare. And that is just from side jobs you can take to earn extra income since you’ll be hemorrhaging money from the helpers you’ll need to keep hiring to keep the farm going while you focus on other tasks not to mention all the equipment you have to buy (or lease) to do all kinds of things. And if what comes with the game wasn’t enough there are a ton of mods you can download.
Farming alone not real enough for you? Well how about owning some livestock. You have to transport them, feed and water them, breed them, sell them, etc. And it all goes hand in hand with farming making one big giant circle of farming hell for you to enjoy. Now I realize at this point I’m making this game sound horrible, and part of me wants to say it is. But it’s not a bad game. As a former boss of mine use to say “anyone can do this job, but this job is not for everyone.” And that is what this game is. It is a game that anyone can play, but not everyone will enjoy it or appreciate it for what it is. This is a game driven by an economy and how much work the player is willing to put in to it. The tractors and equipment in the game has detail that could be on par with other vehicle games. They operate how you’d think they would in the real world minus the hassle of having to know all the controls. Everything in the game works as it should (though there are some wonky physics with some of the vehicles) and when you’re doing things right there is immense satisfaction and pride when you realize that you managed to do all of these Herculean tasks and made it out the other end.
There is an in-game radio with a few different stations to help keep you relaxed, but don’t expect a wide variety of songs. Performing some tasks can feel tedious since they take long to do, yet at the same time they can be relaxing. You have somewhat of a fast travel system since you can teleport between vehicles which makes getting around a bit easier, but those trips across town to pick up new equipment can become a chore. There are no characters to interact with and there are people spread thinly throughout the town to give it a semblance of life, but natural elements make to world feel more alive than the other cars or people ever could.
Farming Simulator17 is a beautiful game, if you know what to look at. This is a game that gives you some help, but all of your accomplishments or failures fall on you. You might either find this game beyond boring and overly difficult, or maybe it’s relaxing and addicting. Ultimately that all depends on you.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for the PS4.