Farming Simulator is a game that you might have heard of before, if only from the slew of videos that make jokes at its expense. It’s a series that has managed to achieve a certain level of success, despite being a part of a smaller niche. The latest version, Farming Simulator 15, was recently released for consoles, and I gave it a spin — but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
I’m not someone who tends to delve into simulation games all too often, unless the subject matter is particularly interesting to me. So prior to Farming Simulator 15, I had no experience with the series. The only thing I knew was that it was a game designed to simulate farming, and that people on the internet loved it. As someone who spends a lot of time on the internet, I thought that I might love it too, but I soon discovered that I was in over my head.
There isn’t much story to the Farming Simulator series. You start up a farm and you work your way up to the top, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. The bulk of the game is spent farming, as the name implies. That might normally sound like an interesting proposition, but in Farming Simulator, it quickly turns out to be a lot of work. After you start the game, you’re introduced to the core mechanics.
The game gives you a tutorial and teaches you to farm, but it only gives you the basics. You’re taught to harvest your crops, then to sow them, and finally to cultivate them. That’s the cycle, and it sounds pretty basic, but there’s a lot more involved. Once you finish the tutorial, the game becomes increasingly complex, but it doesn’t hold your hand beyond that point. Once you finish the tutorial, if you forgot something, you’re out of luck.
Forgot the order in which to manage your fields? Too bad, you can’t go back and find out. The game does have a guide of sorts which you can access through a payphone, but the information you can find there isn’t exactly comprehensive. When I started the game, I finished the tutorial and then immediately forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I ended up having to start another save file and doing it all over again, because the game doesn’t seem particularly keen on reminding you.
It almost seems like the tutorial was shoehorned in, and that Farming Simulator 15 isn’t designed to be friendly to new players. Yes, there is a tutorial, and yes, you can look up information on the payphone — but that won’t tell you everything, and in a game that’s so complex, that’s a problem. A lot of games out there hold your hand these days, and in most cases, you probably don’t need it. But in the case of Farming Simulator 15, new players will probably find themselves turning to the internet to figure out just what it is they’re supposed to be doing.
That would be fine if we were talking about Bloodborne, and a majority of the mystery revolved around finding hidden secrets, but it doesn’t work so well here. But of course, maybe that’s the point. Farming Simulator isn’t meant for most people — it’s a niche title. So Giants Software wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to assume that most people that are picking the game up probably already know how to play it.
But as a new player, that can be pretty frustrating. The complexity can be overwhelming, and if I am anything to go by, you will forget what it is that you’re doing. There’s just that much to do in the game. If you have friends that play it’s not so bad, since the game has co-op, but even with friends it’ll still be a while before you’re running a successful farm. After spending quite a few hours with the game, I got the hang of things.
What I noticed, though, was that crops still take a while to grow — even when you set the speed of everything to the maximum. Farming Simulator 15 clearly isn’t a game for people with limited time, and as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, that’s a negative aspect for me. If you want to complete this game, and really experience everything it has to offer, you’re going to be investing a significant amount of time.
Unfortunately, my time is limited, and as I realized how much time I’d have to spend to get the most out of the game, I had to put it down. It’s not that I didn’t want to become the ultimate farmer and successfully own a majority of the town, I just don’t have the time. You can play in small chunks, sure, but the crops don’t grow when you’re outside of the game. That means that if you’re working, you’re not going to see any progress. You have to actively grow those crops.
It’s a shame, and it makes it really difficult, particularly since there are a lot of bugs with the AI workers that you can hire. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong, but I could never get my hires to work properly. Sometimes they’d go at the lowest possible speed, other times they’d just drive backwards forever until I fired them. It seems like it was a bug, but if it wasn’t, well it can just be chalked up to yet another area of the game that isn’t full explained.
With multiple fields being worked on at a time, being able to run several stages of production is a big deal. If you can’t do that by using workers, then, well, you’re going to have a lot more work to do. There are very few games that I’ve actually given up on, but after repeatedly running into problems with hires on Farming Simulator 15, I decided this would be one of them. I tried to like the game, I really did — but maybe it’s just not for me.
Perhaps in the future I can find my way back to it and complete it, but for now, it will likely just sit in my library on my PS4. If I’m not the intended audience, at least I gave it a try. If nothing else, I had a lot of fun climbing trees with friends. One thing is for sure, it’s no Harvest Moon.
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PS3/PS4/360/Xbox One/PC
Release Date: 5/19/15
- A seemingly realistic farming experience
- Lots of depth, if you can survive long enough to experience it
- A seemingly realistic farming experience
- Buggy worker AI hinders progression
- Could do with a better help system
- Rolling your tractor leaves it stuck
Disclaimer: A copy of Farming Simulator 15 was provided to BentoByte by Evolve PR for the purpose of review.Tweet