Calm down everyone, the game you’ve all been waiting for is here… Farming Simulator 15 has arrived! Once more being developed by Giants Software, it has been stirring up excitement with some very well edited trailers. I haven’t played a farm simulation for around two years now; hence I expected it to have flourished into a masterpiece of a simulator and to have hopefully added a sprinkle of fun into the mix…
Oh how wrong I was.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of how exactly Farming Simulator 15 has disappointed a hopeful gamer, let me tell you more about the game. The idea is to have a successful career in farming by earning money from various activities, buying better equipment, acquiring more land and earning even more money. Whether that’s by focussing on harvesting crops, dabbling in the world of forestry or having a go at animal husbandry (which isn’t nearly as odd as it sounds), it’s entirely up to you really… sort of.
It offers you a decent selection of how to grow your business but in reality you won’t be able to afford to do anything other than the basics for quite a while. Starting a career gives the player access to enough equipment in order to sow your seeds, collect whatever has grown and then cultivate the land to rinse and repeat the process. And there’s a massive $100,000 loan hovering over your head, which to be honest isn’t uncommon in this world to get a business going. Better get used to your starter kit of machinery because it’ll be a long time before you see any new tools of the trade.
The main reason for this is not having the money to upgrade or add to your farming arsenal. When you consider how long it took me to accumulate a mere $15,000 bank balance after a mountain of hard work, roughly ten hours, and then price up the transportation vehicle for tree logs at $17,000, it’s a real slog to add another farming string to your bow. Even buying animals comes with a cost; anything other than chickens will force your hand into buying new equipment that is just unaffordable.
So, in short, to get a taste of the many vehicles and tools on offer, Farming Simulator 15 relies on a real strength of will to stick it out until that point. Why? Quite simply due to the fact it’s as boring as being an adrenaline junkie in a library, wearing a straight jacket. If you haven’t seen any actual footage of the game then I’d highly recommend finding some next time you’re having difficulty getting to sleep. Just imagine hopping onto a tractor, lowering a cultivator and then riding up and down a field at a pretty slow speed. That’s what you’ll be doing for the majority of your career in one way or another; no matter the equipment you use.
That is of course if you don’t outsource a job to a worker, which is done at the press of a button at anytime once you’re in the place that the job needs doing. Unfortunately this isn’t the easy way out of monotony because they charge $1 per second and go even slower than I thought was possible, it’s like something you’d see on Rogue Traders where they milk a job for all they can. I lost $400 on hiring a person to do literally one length of a field. Ridiculous.
I’ll give it some credit in regards to the options in the store for when you are rolling in cash; there are front loaders, sprayers, mowers, balers and even a beehouse. It’s just a shame that the rest of the game falters when it comes to quality and actual fun, just like the 2013 edition did. A lot was said about the forestry side of proceedings, it should’ve added freshness to be able to chop down and plant trees but even when you can afford the equipment needed it’s a real task that just infuriates. I can only liken the collection of logs to that of the claw machines in arcades, lining up the tool then lowering and fiddling with various controls only for the log to fall out is a real pain.
The areas in which you can farm are huge but ultimately so very bland in looks. Whether you choose the Bjornholm (Scandinavian) area or the one in Westbridge Hills (USA), I couldn’t find much joy in exploring either due to poor graphics all round. To give you an idea of how bad they are, when it snows it reminds me of the snowy effects on a worn VHS tape.
Last but not least is the multiplayer (exclusive to new-gen consoles), the ability to share the joys of farming with a friend or five… you read that correctly, six of you can have the time of your life in the same world. Although if any of my friends ask me to harvest their wheat, I’ll be going straight for the unfriend action. It’s great for people who do find enjoyment in this line of work but it just isn’t my thing.
The core parts of Farming Simulator 15 are there, with cash flow and expenses being realistic to a degree and all the farming equipment in the store that would be needed throughout a career. Sadly the rest just isn’t up to standard in arguably one of the worst looking games I’ve played in recent times. I game for fun; driving up and down fields made me feel like I was going insane. But the chickens told me I wasn’t so that’s a relief.
When you hear the term “niche”, I’d say this is the definition as far as games go. I’m not sure how anyone could get enjoyment from such monotonous tasks with little to no excitement at all times. Do yourself a favour and give this a miss.