It’s two years since the last Farming Simulator title released on consoles as Farming Simulator 2016 was only available on mobile devices. But Farming Simulator 2017 is finally here and brings mod support and an even wider range of licensed vehicles and tools.
Not too many years ago, I played my first Farming Simulator title, and what started out as a bit of a joke title, soon became a dirty pleasure. I’m happy to declare, I’ve enjoyed the last few Farming Simulator titles, not as a number one choice, but for a game to relax with, when you’ve had a tough day, expelled hordes in Gears of War, scored Hat-tricks in Fifa and won by a split second on Forza. Some people wan’t non-stop action, but more and more gamers are looking for that go-to title for when you just want to relax, and the Farming Simulator franchise fills that void perfectly.
20 years ago, Simulation, management and tycoon games where all the rage, but more recently they’re not quite as common, maybe due to the ever changing landscape of gaming or people’s reliance on a quick fix, but Farming Simulator has an ever increasing fan base, and 2017 looks set to increase that further.
When you first boot up Farming Simulator 17, you’re greeted with a short intro and then onto the menu screen, straight away returning farmers will notice the addition of Mods which we will get to later, but the other options make up Career, Multiplayer, Tutorials, Achievements and access to the store for the innevitable forthcoming DLC packs.
Each are fairly self-explanatory so let’s start off with tutorials, there’s 6 in total, with the first covering the basics of farming and the others going into more advanced areas such as fertilisation, forestry and dealing with livestock.
The new addition of ‘mods’ offer up a selection of extra ware’s for your farming pleasure. Sectioned into areas such as Tools, Trailers, Tractors, and packages there’s plenty of space for extra creations and even before release there’s a good selection of items ready for download both from a handful of groups dedicated to such mods, as well as the developers Giants Software themselves.
Adding mods seem a slightly strange choice to a game like Farming Simulator, there’s no sign of the ‘glitch’ style mods such as instant cash, and I can’t help but feel providing these mods will take away from the potential DLC sales, but when many games could do with mods and they don’t find there way (especially on console) it’s great to see the developers providing the option.
Add to this the already massive selection of vehicles and tools in the game from every big name manufacturer you can imagine and there’s certainly no shortage on content.
Over to actual gameplay and Career and Multiplayer are largely what returning players will expect. After selecting from a male or female character and a few basic customisation options, you begin with a handful of basic tractors and tools, and you’ll need to harvest, prepare and plant your fields to earn the cash to improve your machinary and to grow your farm to be even more succesful and profitable..
There’s plenty of space for saved games bth in single player (career) and Multiplayer, with the latter allowing you to select upto 6 players, limiting to friends only, or password protecting your game. To be honest, Career is where I’ve spent most of my time, but post release, I’d love to get a few friends together for the occasional farming session to work co-operatively on a farm between us.
It’s sometimes a little daunting to see a massive selection of tractors with only a handful within your price range, yet there’s very little that are too similar to others, many will provide more versatility in there potential uses, others are faster, or can maintain a better speed when carrying a heavy load. Do you go for a standalone trailer or one connected to a tractor, and is it worth investing in that sprayer that will cover a wider distance, initially it’s a case of deciding what tasks you want to concentrate on, then starting off aiming for the best equipment that#s within your sights to make these tasks quicker and making money, a little easier.
There’s many, many aspects of management that will keep your strategic eyes peeled, and saving up to buy one of the higher-end tractors soon reaps its rewards when your ploughing, sewing and harvesting even quicker. Even your exact choice of crop makes a differance as the ever changing economic landscape will see certain crops weild a better profit, while others might sell high but only with certain vendors, so do you spend more time travelling for a higher price, or make a quick sale and spend the extra time ploughing the field to start again.
Thankfully the trusty ‘staff’ option returns and as soon as you’ve started a job, such as ploughing a field, you can hit ‘B’ to have an A.I staff member finish the task at hand, this time staff seem a little smarter and don’t get themselves stuck anywhere near as often, They’ll drive round obstacles (even if you’re intentionally parked near them) and will do their best to finish the field.
Using staff costs and you’ll see your money slowly decrease for as long as they’re busy, so it’s usually a good idea to let them get on with the job and move on to something else yourself.
Soon enough you’ll get to grips with the rotation of ploughing a field and thanks to the mods, there’s going to be an ever changing platform of new improvements for your farm.. One of the reasons I enjoy farming simulator is because of the variety. If I fancy strolling around the chicken coop to collect eggs, then I can, sticking to the arrable farming and fields and there’s always plenty to do, or my personal favorite, find a random tree to chop down and make money off the wood. There’s plenty of ways to make money and while some might seem a little more fruitful than others, nothing is a ‘terrible’ job, and if there’s anything you don’t enjoy, just give it a miss.
Looking at the aesthetics and it’s a shame that things don’t look incredibly different to the two year old Farming Simulator 2015, here’s a few enhancements, but it’s dissapointing to see larger fields ‘loading in’ as you plough across them, a few tree’s popping in towards the horizon is bad enough, but when you have a set area like a field, I’d really expect the detail of that field to be showing when you’re anywhere near it, but sadly this isn’t the case, even when there’s not much going on nearby (houses, other fields etc)
Overall there’s a pleasant sharpness at times and occasionally things look incredibly detailed, however there’s some quite bland textures at work, and 3 years into a consoles cycle, we’ve seen how much detail can be crammed onto the screen so it’s a major shame we don’t see anywher enear the same level on the farm.
Audio does a good enough job of bringing everything apart from the smell of manure into your living room, and while some of the radio stations are more likely to make you turn off than turn up, most serve as soft enough backing music as you go about your farming duties, and the effects, vehicle sounds and ambience all add to the atmosphere of the game.
Farming Simulator 2017 does have an air of repetition about it, but hopefully the mods will help to keep things fresh, espeically if the section for new maps is populated past the two that come from the start, especially considering how familiar these are to the 2015 offerings.