I’m a born and bred city slicker, and have only on rare occasions dared to set foot on a farm. I have also made peace with the fact that what little I know of the farming world might be considered dangerous. Keeping all this in mind, I was asked to review Farming Simulator 2015.
Before you can start to build your farming empire, you need to decide in which one of the two available fictional sandbox settlements you would like to start. There is the Scandinavian inspired village of Bjornholm or the good old US of A inspired Westbridge Hills. Both of these starting areas have the same general delivery points – windmills, train stations, lumber yards, etc. There are however some differences. For instance, Westbridge Hills has the gigantic fields usually associated with an American farming town – this makes it more challenging to start in. On the other hand, Bjornholm with its vast tracts of forests seems more suited towards the logging industry.
Irrespective of which of these two starting settlements you choose, you will be afforded the same basic farming equipment (a couple of tractors, a low capacity trailer and an extremely slow harvester). I quickly learned that Farming Simulator – as with real life farming – takes a lot of patience (this is not an exaggeration). You will need to invest at least a few hours before you can get your farm working like a well oiled farming implement. If you are not known for your patience then Farming Simulator 2015 might not be the game for you. However, should you be patient and stick with it, you might be surprised at what you find.
The game hits its stride when you begin making some money (this will eventually happen). More cash in the bank means that you are able to acquire bigger and faster equipment, thus enabling you to increase your production capacity drastically. Having a steady stream of income also allows you to experiment with some of the other opportunities that the game affords you – purchasing some livestock or investing in the logging industry – each of these offer their own challenges and rewards.
Farming Simulator 2015 is a micro manager’s dream; there are a lot of little details throughout the game that will require your attention. These range from making sure you sell your produce at the correct time (when the market prices are at their best) to keeping your equipment clean with a power washer. At times, I found managing these different aspects becoming a bit tedious. Thankfully the game does offer the ability to hire workers to aid you in the harvesting, ploughing and planting of crops.
Speaking of the equipment, this is one area in which the game excels. Each of the multitudes of vehicles, equipment and implements available are rendered with a great deal of detail. Every bit and piece that is found on their real life counterpart can be found on the in-game version. I found myself really appreciating the amount of effort and detail that went into re-creating these vehicles and equipment. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the world itself, as it can look like it was made for last gen consoles. This could be because of budget constraints, although this is not an excuse for the clipping and frame rate issues I encountered. These issues aside, the game has some moments where it looks good, usually at dusk or dawn.
I found myself learning a lot about farming (well more than I knew – which was very limited), from which implements are needed to harvest corn to finding out what is needed to run a productive logging business. Figuring out what equipment to buy next and picking it up at the store feels very rewarding – especially since it might have taken hours to acquire the funds needed.
As with real life farming, Farming Simulator 2015 expects you to get your hands dirty. The game has an agonizing slow start, and only after enduring through this will the intricacies of the world open up to you. There is a relaxing pace to the whole game that I found myself strangely drawn to. This is not a game for the impatient or the adrenaline junkies out there. This game caters to those of us who want to explore the world of farming (both the good and the bad) and that has a little farmer inside them screaming to get out. If you are willing to put in the time and effort and understand that this is not an AAA title, then you should give Farming Simulator 2015 a try.