The farming corner of the gaming market has seen a whole host of developers try their hand at knocking Giants Software and the Farming Simulator series off its perch, yet none have succeeded. Given that the last time I ventured into this world was way back in Farming Simulator 15, when the experience felt less than satisfactory, I’m hoping that there are huge improvements in the latest instalment. So, step forward into the spotlight Farming Simulator 19 and let’s see whether the Platinum Edition lives up to its glorious sounding title.
Without knocking the base game itself – for now – the additions brought in by the Platinum upgrade are rather underwhelming at first glance, but don’t write off the Farming Simulator 19 Platinum Edition just yet. Maybe they’re the extras you’ve always desired…
Anyway, like any simulator worth its salt, there’s plenty of depth here, hence you’re best delving straight into the tutorials to get a handle on what to do. With six tutorials on offer, it’s the ideal place to learn the basics of cultivation, sowing and harvesting, as well as the processes of weeding, fertilising, baling and forestry, amongst others; by the end of these you’ll be prepared enough to at least make a start. It’ll also instil the knowledge that cutting down trees and transporting the logs to earn a living from forestry is more hassle that its worth. I mean, seriously, picking up logs with a claw in this is akin to those shady arcade machines that never quite grab anything.
Upon starting a career in one of two huge locations – Ravenport and Felsbrunn – there are choices to make regarding your farm status. You can begin with a farm already in place, have no land but enough cash to purchase some wherever you see fit, or be right at the bottom of the proverbial money ladder, bereft of cash and land. The options can be tweaked to ensure the economic side isn’t too difficult and that time passes by as fast as you wish it to. And then the hand-holding ceases, leaving you to sink or swim in this multi-faceted farming world.
Ultimately, you can succeed in Farming Simulator 19 via numerous ways, with the most obvious being to grow and sell crops. Harvesting the likes of wheat, oats, barley and corn is potentially the easiest method, however the processes involved are still long and arduous. Not only must you cultivate the land before sowing the seed of choice, but also keep the ground fertilised for the best results. Then there’s the matter of transporting the harvested goods to one of the selling points to earn a bit of cash. The more lucrative crops, such as beets, require complex equipment in order to reap the rewards and that’s where the newcomers may come unstuck.
You see, the tutorials don’t cover everything and so that leaves the weight on the shoulders of the in-game help glossary. Without this form of help though, there’d be no chance of figuring out how to acquire and look after animals, which could be another valuable route of income with cows producing milk, chickens popping out eggs and sheep aiming to keep the Marks & Spencer’s knitwear department full of their wool. On top of that, there are horses to ride, grow and sell on for a healthy profit, thus providing another avenue to earn cash. I don’t believe it’s enough to guide folk into the deepest parts of this sim world though, and I imagine many players will just stick to the basics.
It’s not often that this happens in games, but Farming Simulator 19 has possibly too much on offer and lacks the necessary guidance to enable the uninitiated to get the most out of the experience. For example, the sheer amount of equipment available to buy is overwhelming and it’s hard to work out what vehicle or attachments are needed for the more advanced jobs. Fortunately, the farming enthusiasts will embrace the barn load of licensed vehicles and add-ons from the likes of AGCO, JCB, John Deere, Massey Ferguson, Stara and many more.
There is a saving grace in the form of Missions, which are contracts that can be taken up in order to do some work for other farmers. This in itself is a great way to try using new equipment and attempting different tasks because if you don’t own the tools required, it’ll lend them to you for a small slice of the overall payment. Here you can get a better idea of what equipment you might need should you branch out into other, more complicated, farming ventures. In fact, the structure given by the inclusion of Missions makes it one of the best features of the entire game.
However, nothing can mask the fact that every process in the farming chain is a slow and thorough one that borders on the edge of monotony in no time. Given that the areas are so large, it also takes an age to deliver goods and nip down to the shops for a few bits. To help alleviate such problems is an in-game radio that’s full of fairly decent songs ranging from pop to country. Whether you embrace that or stick on a Spotify playlist of your own, at the very least it’ll drown out the noise of the bloody tractor.
Should you fancy mucking in on the farm with a couple of friends, there is a multiplayer option to enjoy alongside up to five others. It’s a bit of a hard sell to get anyone to join you for a ploughing session, but you could always participate in someone else’s farming antics if need be. There are always plenty of lobbies open and, touch wood, the performance of the game online doesn’t appear to be hindered at all.
During my play time throughout, barely any bugs or glitches have been encountered, which is a massive relief as previous iterations had been iffy. Visually though, a bit of screen tearing is noticeable on occasion, but otherwise the lush greenery, the beasty tractors and the various buildings are of an acceptable standard. On a side note, it’s quite tricky to distinguish between cultivated land and that which has been sown; it’ll drive you mad when the crops grow and you see the gaps.
Last, but not least, is the Platinum component of Farming Simulator 19 Platinum Edition and the truth is… it’s pretty disappointing. Essentially, all it does is add a whole selection of vehicles and tools from CLAAS, a German agricultural manufacturer. This includes the new Lexion 8900 combine harvester, the Scorpion 1033 telehandler, and the powerful Xerion 5000 tractor, to name just a few of the items brought in. To add insult to injury, you’ll not own any of these in-game and will still have to raise the funds to purchase them.
Farming Simulator 19 Platinum Edition on Xbox One suffers from a case of under-delivering on the Platinum offering, which on its own just isn’t worth bothering with. The base game is pretty good though, providing a ton of depth for the experienced farmer to enjoy and just enough for those gamers new to the series to get a handle on. Whilst it is a little overwhelming, everything feels like a slog still and it won’t necessarily be to everyone’s tastes. Still, if you’re after a farming game – without the added cost of being ‘Platinum’ – then Farming Simulator 19 is a solid recommendation to bear in mind.