Farming Simulator 19 has 300 pieces of farm equipment to use, I know how to use approximately zero of them and to be honest with you, after playing the game for a long time, I am still not sure what most of them do.
Not understanding the mechanics of any game in today’s age of YouTube tutorials or what I say here won’t matter because Farming Simulator 19 is going to sell a tonne of copies, to largely the same people that bought Farming Simulator 18, and 17, and 16. Do you see what I am saying, this game has a hardcore and dedicated fanbase, and there is a part of me that can understand why.
I am not a hardcore Farming Simulator fan, I will never be at Farmcon but I really like the sim genre so I slipped on my wellies, pulled my tweed cap on and sat down for a serious bit of crop growth.
Simplified, the game is all about making money by planting crops, harvesting them, farming and raising animals and selling them. However, to say simplified and Farming Simulator 19 in the same breath is an understatement. The price of entry is a lot of time and patience with a host of YouTube for good measure.
If you are not into the genre then the first question you will be asking is, How fun is it? Unfortunately, once you pass the novelty factor the “fun” is harder to find, so the grind begins and what is left is a not very competent and possibly extremely accurate farming simulation that may have limited appeal.
Let me walk you through a game loop in an attempt to explain the level of detail. You want to sell crops, to do this you will first need to prepare a field. Once you have made several passes of the field turning the soil you can then plant the seeds, once the seeds are planted you wait for the crop to grow, you can attend to the field in different ways but essentially you then harvest your crops, take them to a silo and dump them through a grate into the ground, get paid then start again.
Take the money you make, buy new equipment and do the same thing over and over. This is the grind, this is work and it really feels like work.
Once you have spent time grinding there are lots of options to open up new gameplay loops and I can certainly see the appeal Farming Simulator 19 however, I had this constant question in my mind, was I having fun?
I should back up a bit. Starting out there are a 3 different options, New Farmer, Farm Manager and Start from Scratch. I played on New Farmer for about an hour, it serves as a tutorial and was a good enough experience to leave me wanting more. I started and am still playing on Farm Manager. I am not sure I am ready to Start from Scratch or if I even want to.
So on my first farm I bought some land, bought the equipment for forestry as I had heard that this is where the money is. I hired a worker to plant trees which was great however, everything else has to be done manually, which is fine for the first few times you cut a tree down or the first time you pick up some logs to load but it quickly becomes tiresome.
Here in then is the issue I have with Farm Simulator 19, it is a chore. For me it was fun to try new things and to do those things when I wanted,
Farm Simulator 19 is exactly what it says, it’s a simulation of what it is like to work on a farm wrapped in the package of a game and I am not sure what its for.
So if you want to get a piece of equipment back to your farm or to any other field that you are working on you need to manually take it there, but to get to the vehicle you can just hit Tab. Why not have the truck teleport to you too?
If you want to sell your crop, you need to manually drive it to the sale point but to fill the trailer with grain, you can hire someone to ride next to a combine harvester and gather it.
I have a big issue with the repetitiveness inherent in Farming Simulator 19. I get bored very quickly of doing the same thing over but I found the controls to be unintuitive and very cumbersome to use too.
The default layout in Farming Simulator 19 is, without exaggeration, the worst I have ever experienced. I will give you an example, to use one of the machines you use to cut down, debranches and cut trees into lengths, the exceptionally well titled Ponsse ScorpionKing, you have to manipulate an arm. To manipulate the arm you have to use a combination of left or right mouse button with J and N or K and M keys, its confusing but you can get the hang of it, however, you will then be required to press the left shift and control keys as well as the J, N, K and M keys!
I play the guitar and piano, I am pretty dextrous and, as I have been playing for over 20 years I don’t get hand cramp very often, but after 20 minutes my hands were really aching. It feels unnatural and is only one example of many that will leave you scratching your head. I wanted to rebind the keys but there are so many options I understood why the devs had issues.
The vehicles and their attachments in Farm Simulator 19 are very detailed and as far as I can tell are accurately modelled. The scenery however, that is another matter. The crops look terrible up close and the way they move is unrealistic. They are bad enough to kill the immersion however, there is a very healthy modding community and there are fixes for the textures used so it may not be as bad as it first seems.
Many of the vehicles are slow, painfully slow, if you remember that you have to drive them everywhere you need them. If you buy fields on the opposite side of the map, and lets be clear, that will be your ultimate goal, moving your machinery around is going to be a very painful process.
What I find worse than the speed of the vehicles however is the way they handle. I cannot imagine a tractor will handle a corner at speed and having been stuck behind many I know they are slow but I have driven plenty of cars and the ones in Farm Simulator 19 are terrible. If they are a measure of how things translate then anyone who has driven a tractor will probably say the same.
What makes this worse is that you can drive a vehicle anywhere, over a massive hill, catching air in a €500,000 combine harvester would damage it, not in this “simulator” however. You can crash at full speed into anything and there won’t even be a chip of paint missing.
I tried to stop the train by parking a few vehicles on the tracks and despite some very wonky physics, nothing happened. The fun with Physics isn’t limited to train crashes, I picked up a log with my log loader, the log, log loader and the tractor it was attached to flew into the air a few feet and then bounced around a little before settling down. I got out to look for the log but luckily, even though it had flown off and catapulted me and the tractor with it, I saw that it was safely in the jaws of the log loader.
Before I finish I just wanted to briefly mention the sounds. I am sure the tractors sound great but the radio plays the most irritating euro pop and pseudo country I have ever heard in my life. Sound gets an extra point for allowing me to turn it off.
I could go on but Farm Simulator 19 is a big miss for me. I am not its intended audience but that leaves me asking the question, who is?
It’s a simulation that doesn’t have damage, forces you to do some tasks but not others, doesn’t teach you how to use most of the equipment or when, has vehicles that feel like they are on rails and has some extremely poor physics.
I have not enjoyed my time with Farm Simulator 19, it feels like a chore and will not be a game I revisit.
- Gameplay - 36%36%
- Graphics - 46%46%
- Sound - 45%45%
- Longevity - 15%15%
- Value - 20%20%
A very dull game with limited appeal hampered by its own ability to decide if its a simulator or not.