One of gaming’s biggest debates isn’t over the best football game, nor is it that Call of Duty is or isn’t better than Battlefield. No, the real burning issue is of course whether Professional Farmer is the best farming simulation on the market or if Farming Simulator wears that thorny crown. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one of these behemoths, Professional Farmer 2017, to get down and dirty on the gaming frontline to see what it has to offer. Will I be enthralled whilst living the dream of becoming a farmer?
Hell no, instead it’s a nightmare I desperately wish to wake up from.
It’s probably best to start with the tutorial which offers a comprehensive run-through of ploughing fields, sowing seeds and eventually harvesting the resulting crops. To be fair, it’s pretty useful to newcomers as it goes over all the necessary stages of cultivating any land you own and which vehicles or equipment you should be using. There’s also a period of learning the basics of animal husbandry; the caring side of it and not so much about breeding.
Although it’s relatively in-depth, the glitches were already starting to rear their ugly head when I reversed a little bit too far, hit a wall and the whole tractor, with its trailer still attached, flew into the air in a frantic spin. Having landed on top of another vehicle, there was nothing left to do except quit the game and start again. The developers didn’t think of allowing vehicle resets in the tutorial.
As you can imagine, I quickly realised that Professional Farmer 2017 is worryingly temperamental, but once the tutorial was finally over, it was time to just get on with it and start a new career. Placed into a world with a bank full of cash, the choice is yours as to which field(s) within your price range to purchase at the start. Looking back I wish I could’ve pocketed the cash and gone on a holiday because it all went downhill fast. What I hadn’t anticipated was that the farm and the fields were separated by a loading screen.
Realistically, this would see you hit a loading screen between each stage of cultivation, something which got old real fast. For a next generation game, it shouldn’t have a world split into four areas with each having a loading screen, especially not when it requires regular traversing through all. Drive to a field, plough it, drive back to the farm and grab the next piece of equipment… rinse and repeat. Add in the repetition of riding up and down the fields on a tractor in an endless loop of insanity and you might get an idea of how mind numbing it becomes.
Whether you prepare the land yourself or hire a worker for a fee, once the seeds are planted there’s actually nothing to do for what turns out to be a year of in-game time. Aside from the odd spraying of insecticides when an infestation occurs, all that can be done is fast forwarding four weeks at a time until it’s ready to harvest. For such a long process, the money garnered from selling the crops wasn’t worth the effort in the slightest.
Even if there’s money in the bank, the pieces of equipment and vehicles to purchase from the local village are lacking in numbers. To the untrained eye it’s difficult to know what the difference is between the small selection of tractors in the shop.
With all the animals located on the farm, I figured that’d be a sensible way of building an income without compromising my mental stability. After buying a shed load of pigs, cows, sheep and chickens, I spent a crazy amount of time making sure they were all stocked up in food, water etc. The next day it was time to sell the resulting produce, but it barely made an addition to the bank balance. Another slow way to make a profit… extremely slow.
But then came an absolute killer blow, literally, as I checked the number of animals I owned had dropped by over half. Professional Farmer 2017 had performed a mass culling overnight for no apparent reason and no matter what I tried it kept happening. So, the cultivation is boring and monotonous, whilst the animal husbandry kills off any hope of finding enjoyment in this line of work. Good eh?
Graphically it’s nothing special, with parts of the environment only looking decent from a distance and occasional rendering issues. The whole world is simply how you’d presume a generic farm land that has a distinct lack of standout features would look.
For a game built on growing a farming business, there’s a severe lack of information on the business side of it. There should be some form of income/expenditure table at the very least, when in fact all that’s given is a bank balance total. But hey, you can do your own working out with a pen and paper while you wait for the crops to grow.
Professional Farmer 2017 falls short in almost every area and having had previous experience in other farm simulators, this is perhaps the worst of its kind. Half of the game is ruined by it killing off your animals and the other half sends you into a boredom coma. There’s nothing exciting or enticing about forging a career as a farmer here, instead it’ll make you question how it qualifies as a game.
The key to a successful game, apart from being bug and glitch free, is to have a reward at the end of the effort put in; to encourage further investment of a gamer’s time. I have nothing to gain from Professional Farmer 2017 and I can’t see many others will either.
Avoid at all costs, for your own sanity.