You know how it is. Sometimes you get home from a hard day’s work and all you want to do is chill out, maybe plough some fields and sow some seeds. Well, thanks to the Farming Simulator games you can do it all – right from the comfort of your living room, without the smells of the country or the risk of getting manure on your shoes.
This newest iteration of the series, Farming Simulator 2015, available for the first time on PS4 and Xbox One, is assuredly the best yet with enhanced visuals, gameplay refinements and for the first time, tree felling.
The first thing you should know about Farming Simulator 2015 is that there’s no real aim to it. Think of it as the ultimate horticulturalist’s sandbox. At the start of the game you’re presented with a choice of two farms to work on: Bjornholm, which is great for beginners due to its compact nature and basic introductory tutorial, and Westbridge Hills, a farm for the experienced due to its sprawling nature. Thrown into the life of a farmer you begin with a few fields, numerous vehicles and attachments… and debt. A massive amount of debt, in fact. From that point onward, it’s up to you how you spend your time. If you want to be the best supplier of wheat, you can. Simply plough a field, sow some seed, allow it to grow and then harvest it. Best not to be a one trick pony through; you should never put all your eggs into one basket, as they say. Growing more than one crop means that you’re less prone to fluctuations in the market when you sell your harvest, enabling you to steadily build your bank balance and pay off those pesky farming loans.
At first you’re pretty limited as to what you can do in the game thanks to your lack of working capital. However after a short stint of working the field and selling your harvest, the game opens up new options as you’re able to purchase the equipment required to engage in other activities. As mentioned earlier, tree felling is the newest activity added to the series and allows you to cut down trees in order to sell the lumber. Of course, it’ll then be your job to also plant new trees if you wish to consider it as a long-term money maker.
For those that want to approach Farming Simulator 2015 in more of a typical game-like manner, then the missions available at notice boards scattered across your farm will be right up your street. In the options, you can change how often new missions get posted (as regularly as every 2 minutes, if you like), and once you’ve accepted one you have as much time as you need to complete it. Numerous mission types are available such as mowing fields, selling a certain amount of grain or even delivering goods, and completing them awards you with a nice cash payout. Once you got all the equipment required to complete all mission types available, you could quite easily focus all your time on completing missions to make your farm a success should you wish. Menial tasks like harvesting, ploughing and sowing can also be completed by hiring helpers that will do the job for you, although they will obviously have to be paid for their services.
Farming Simulator 2015‘s major problem is that for the uninitiated, it just doesn’t explain itself well enough. There are so many facets to the activities included that you could quite easily feel bewildered the moment the game stops holding your hand. Those that have played the previous games in the series will have no issues and will no doubt jump right in, but newcomers may struggle to work out exactly where to go and what to do. Granted there are some help points dotted around your farm, but they rarely suffice in giving you any meaningful direction.
Whilst its presentation is simple, Farming Simulator 2015 has a clean look to it that makes it fairly pleasing on the eyes. It’s not exactly taxing the capabilities of the Xbox One or PS4 in any way, but the visuals are good enough to not detract from the overall experience. The frame rate is very consistent too, making gameplay a smooth experience, especially when backed up with the intuitive controls. It leaves a lot to be desired in terms of audio though as music is pretty much non-existent, leaving you to listen to the sounds of tractors for most of your playing time.
Fans of previous entries in the series and console owners aspiring to be farmers will get the most out of this title, and will no doubt appreciate its authenticity. For everyone else however, it’s hard to recommend Farming Simulator 2015 unless you have a lot of time, patience and a willingness to learn on your own intuition. It’s a shame though, as there’s quite an enjoyable if not a little mundane experience underneath it all that is undoubtedly deep.