If you are someone like me, whose only exposure to farming comes from growing crops in Minecraft, you might be thinking that you are not part of the target audience for a Farming Simulator game. Punching wheat to get seeds is sadly not how it works in the real world. However, with a bit of persistence, you will find yourself starting to enjoy the experience far more than you might have expected.
Farming Simulator 17 is a fantastic and detailed experience that will throw you into the world of farming. The game starts out with a short tutorial to teach you the basics of using the machines and how the crop fields work. The tutorial is useful, but it could be far more effective. A short video with narration would make more sense than making you plough a field to “learn” how to do it.
There is a detailed help section in the game that teaches you more about a lot of things, but It is not ideal. The game could be far more intuitive for farming novices. For example, I bought a very large harvesting attachment for my harvester only to find the harvester I owned was not powerful enough to use it. I had to Google it to find out why as the game did not inform me. A simple “you do not own a harvester powerful enough to use this attachment, are you sure you want to purchase?” message would solve this issue and reduce the learning curve for those who are clueless about farming.
Once you start to get over the worst of the learning curve, you will find yourself enjoying the game more and more. All elements of the game are woven together in ways that make you calculate every little thing you do. While harvesting wheat, you can generate straw, gather this and use it for your cows to get fertilizer that you can then use later on.
There are no direct missions or quests in this game. The only goal is the same goal any real farmer will have. To make a living! However, once you are at the point where you have a sustainable income, you will want to start branching out, and this is where you have the most fun.
The map is filled with fields that you can purchase to expand your farm. Purchasing more land will allow you to make more money but you need to make sure you have the equipment. One harvester may not be enough to cover every field you have. This is why you have to be highly calculated in your expansions to make sure you do it slowly.
So at this stage, you might be asking, what is the point in expanding your farm? You have a couple of fields and everything is going well. What fun will adding 5 more fields of grain do? The fun in this comes from purchasing new machines.
The general store is where you get to acquire new machines and farming supplies. As you look through this store you will appreciate the massive amount of stuff there is in this game. There are dozens of vehicle and trailer categories all having many variations. The goal is to always go bigger and better. This is what drives you to expand your farm. You want more money and more land to purchase the cool new equipment.
Using the farming machines is what this game is all about and this has been implemented incredibly well. Everything is tiered upward. Small tractors are cheap but are unable to use large attachments. The huge tractors, that look like tanks then cost a bomb but allow you to use the largest attachments to get work done faster.
The larger your farm gets, the more challenging it becomes to manage. Thankfully, it is not as hard as it seems as you can hire workers to help you out. Pull your tractor up to a field and you get an option to hire a worker. This worker will proceed to plough, seed, fertilize or harvest the field for you. This lets you move onto other tasks knowing that the job will get done. Doing this costs money, but It is a very small amount that you will not ever question whether to hire a worker or not.
One aspect to the game that you might not expect is the ability to buy animals. You can purchase pigs, sheep and cows from animal stores. There are three specific locations on the map for you to care for the animals you buy. If the animals have enough food, water and bedding, they will begin to breed. All the supplies that animals need can be grown on your fields, making it a fully sustainable system.
Managing animals is fun and can be a very useful source of income, but the system does lack depth. You cannot choose where to place the animal enclosures. There is one location for each type of animal and you can’t move them. This gets a bit annoying when you have to pull water back and forth across the map rather than just putting the animals in a convenient location.
As a way to get around the limitations of the animal pens, there are various buildings that you can get to help make things easier. Silos can be purchased to store grain, barns for storing hay, straw and grass and water towers can be built too. This does cut down on a lot of the traveling, but when you are strapped for cash, these buildings often end up being out of your price range.
The more time you put into farming, the better the game comes. One thing that does not get any better is the visuals. The game looks quite dated. There is no dynamic lighting, which means nothing casts any shadows. The texture quality is quite low and overall it looks like a 10 year old game. It isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but you aren’t going to look at your farm and be blown away by the realism.
Despite the lack of visual fidelity in most areas, the crops stand out due to the detail put into this system. As you run a harvester over a field of crops, you can see the individual stems shake and wobble as they get pulled into the harvester. If you swerve while harvesting a field, you see this reflected in the crops that have been harvested. A lot of effort was put into the behavior of the plants in the fields and it enhances the experience considerably.
The grain physics are also something with a great amount of detail. As you unload the grain into a trailer, you see the trailer slowly fill up. The pile builds up directly under where you drop the grain. It isn’t perfect, but you rarely ever see this sort of detail that goes down to such a fine level. It is quite satisfying to watch the grain fall into a trailer and fill it up.
After pumping dozens of hours into this game, you will appreciate the work that has gone into this game. With such a large amount of ways to earn money, you will rarely find yourself bored. Whether you are a farmer yourself or if you have never set foot on a farm, this game will teach you loads and you will have a lot of fun in the process.