Farming Simulator 17 brings the farm to the televisions once again, and now with even more content thanks to a Platinum Expansion that will take players to South America to take over the farming life there. With a variety of specialties for you to master, such as animal husbandry, crop growing, crop selling, and truck collection, there's a little something for everyone. Oh, and let's not forget the mod support on next-gen consoles.
I said it when I reviewed publisher Focus Home Interactive's other simulator game, MudRunner: Spintires, simulation games are far from a rare occurrence, but to find one that successfully recreates the world while delivering a fun experience is rare. For every good simulator out there, there are at least two that are so horrible you'd lose sleep over purchasing. Farming Simulator 17 is one of the good ones, and is the best in its class of farming simulators. It's not without some short comings, but whether you've been a long time fan of the series, or are a city person looking to dive into the farming world, there is a lot to appreciate here. On top of many improvements from the release before it, mod support has been included. If you missed it last year, Farming Simulator 17 and the Skyrim next-gen re-release were the founders of our console mod supported library, followed by Fallout 4 and not much else. Developed by Giants Software, the world of farming comes right to your tv and your gaming controller once again. If you get the Platinum Edition, you are introduced to the farming life in a South American setting.
You can buy the game on Steam or PS4 or XB1 for $39.99 (check if you are getting base version only, or with the Platinum Expansion)
Right away, you'll notice there is a lot to do and very little hand holding. I'm not going to be able to sit here and claim I'm a farmer, or that I even grew up on a farm. But the good thing is, that it's all easily learnable, so long as you're willing to put the time and effort into caring. Dropping into the single player mode, you're plotted down on your farm, located in a rather large town. A brief and arguably too simple tutorial will introduce you to the mechanics of the game, and how to control both your farmer and vehicles. Learning how to start and accelerate them is the easy enough part, but learning which one will do what for you is the challenge. There are a few hundred different tractors and trucks that will assist you in your daily needs of maintaining the fields. I'm not a farmer, nor did I grow up on the farm, so the companies that produce the various types of trucks and vehicles go right over my head, but for what it's worth there are companies such as Challenger, Fendt, Valtra, and Massey Ferguson. The Platinum Edition, which takes place in South America, features an entirely new playable map and exclusive vehicles from Stara, TT, Randon, FMZ and Gessner Industries that can only be found there. But let's get back to the core gameplay mechanics.
Essentially your objective is straightforward; produce and sell enough crops to stay financially stable. Crops aren't the only way, but arguably the easiest. Drive your vehicles in one straight line next to the last straight line. But you need to learn the types of crops, and how they benefit you. Available to you include wheat, barley, corn, soy, sunflowers, etc. Knowing the economy such as wheat being a barely profitable crop will help keep you from farming your brains out for almost no reason. The entire process of farming crops can be broken up into a few steps. The first is to plow or till the fields, sow it with seeds, fertilize it all, harvest when ready, and then figure out how you will transport and/or store it for later use, or simply sell it off. You can hire workers to help you finish a handful of task (not everything can be completed by a worker though). It's more or less helpful, as you can't be everywhere at once. Sometimes the computer struggles to do what they have been hired to do, due to technical reasons within the game.
You can pursue financial growth in animal husbandry, crops, sales, and woodcutting. Quick tip, ignore the woodcutting altogether because it needs work done. Grabbing a chainsaw and ripping down trees sounds like it would be fun, but finding which angle you need to have in order to cut is annoying and boring. The cutting itself doesn't look cool either after you have successfully cut something down. But, the rest of the ways are good. If you decide animals will be your go-to focus, you'll find a variety of them ranging from cows and chicken, to pigs and sheep. You'll buy them from an animal merchant, and need to give them food and water, while maintaining the cleanliness of everything in order to keep high efficiency. The learning curve and challenging obstacles show up again here as you will need to purchase the right vehicle to bring water to your farm animals. Crops will also be required, such as farming or buying hay as padding for your cows and pigs, while corn will make great feed for cows.
There's a few different combinations, each animal requiring specific conditions in order for you to maximize efficiency and profit. The drawbacks that I felt with the game came with the immersion. While the farming itself provided a generous amount of realism, the interaction with the outside world was less than decent. Cars were miniature tanks in the way they continued driving unfazed if you ran into them, the towns felt spars of genuine life, and the world around you just felt stagnant. Outside of the farm feels like a chore to travel through, especially when on foot. In car it's ok, because there's that greater disconnect from the game, but first person will make the flaws stand out more.
Sound and Graphics
Similar to the way gameplay seems to be divided between town and farm, the graphics feel the same. Of course, the graphics are what makes the gameplay flaws regarding immersion stand out, but on the farm it feels like the visual flaws can easily be forgiven, because you're working towards a goal bigger than the land you are driving slowly across. If you're used to simulation games, then you won't be shocked by the way everything operates, but if you come from other, top developed first person perspective games, or even a really well made simulation like TheHunter: Call of the Wild, then you may be disappointed with it all. Really, it just comes down to personal preference and how badly you want to enjoy the core characteristics here; farming. The audio is no different. The various trucks and tractors roar appropriately, harvesting the fields let out the right amount of grinding to your ears for you to feel the work being done, and the will quite world around you would feel peaceful if not for the roaring of trucks and tractors that I just mentioned. The visuals and audios are strong enough to provide a quality farming expere, but there's a lot of work needed still to make the game world feel alive and moving. The lack of cars and how they mechanic
It's not the absolute best simulator out there, but in regards to farming games, it is top of the line. The series has come a long way, but still has a lot of room to grow. I hope the developers are not limiting themselves because they know there is little competition in this whole farming simulation genre. If you're experienced in the series, the biggest changes will be mod support, some graphics, and even more vehicles to cary out your jobs. New or not though, if you are looking to test your farming abilities, test your money management skills, and test your patience through the large learning curve, you can stop searching the marketplaces.
+ The best farming experience you'll find
– Lack of immersion within the world
+ A lot to learn and perfect
– A big learning curve with limited handholding
+ Mod support for endless content
+ The South America (Platinum Expansion) map is just as exciting and unique as the base map.