Modern video games require commitment. Gone is the era when a player could just sit down with a game for a few hours every couple weeks, switching off between several new releases. Nowadays, developers ask a lot more of their players, namely they ask for a lot more of their time. A common term in the average 60 hour campaign is farming: the idea that a player must spend hours avoiding the main story, looking for loot to level up their space wizard or Earth marine and get the best stats. Farming Simulator 19 cuts all the excess; here is a game that is just farming.
Farming Simulator 19 is the 7th main game in the series, beginning with Farming Simulator 2008. Like its predecessors, the game puts the player in the role of a farmer (in either America or Europe) and tasks them with creating a successful business. Swiss Developers Giants Software have been involved since the series' inception, each iteration making small but significant improvements. This most recent product incorporates a dynamic weather system, several new crops, and the addition of John Deere brand vehicles. It's not a huge advancement, but it's enough to keep fans of Farming Simulator satisfied with the upgrade.
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One valuable addition to the game is the ability to play in three different single-player modes. There's the simplest that holds the players hand, giving them an already stocked farm with several vehicles and crops for harvesting, a mode that gifts the player 1 million dollars to spend as they choose, and at its hardest difficulty a mode that features a "realistic economy." Regardless of starting position, the player eventually must tend to crops and/or livestock enabling them to sell their wares to purchase new vehicles and larger plots of land. There's no way to win, no set objectives other than: be a farmer. The game does offer small contracts from other townsfolk looking for particular items (bales of hale, grain, etc.); these break up the often repetitive nature of tending to your main occupation.
Being a farmer is arduous at times, zen at others. There's a calm to piloting a tractor with various instruments attached along mazes of maize (as long as the country music radio station is turned OFF). But tasks that would be relaxing in short bursts due to their simplicity are upon further inspection layered busy-work. Players must master dozens of different instruments in order to effectively grow and harvest their crops, and even after the thorough tutorial, may find the systems confusing. And if not confusing, at least tedious; going back and forth between each field to change instruments, properly loading the correct parts, takes time. It is clear why the term for doing similar tasks for hours gets its name from "farming."
The environments are rendered in great detail, though the graphics are more previous generation than modern. For those looking for Red Dead Redemption 2 level of quality, it won't be found here. But the focus is different. While the "simulation" may feel broken when running up to a moving train sees it barreling right through you, harvesting grain and dumping it into a silo has never looked or felt better.
Aside from its robust single player mode, Farming Simulator 19 also features online multiplayer, where friends can run a farm together. This is a continuation of the online from 18, allowing farming enthusiasts the option to work in "farmony." Mods will also be supported by the developers, though it is too early to tell how successful these third-party additions will be. In the past these mods have included new vehicles, equipment, and even maps. Cheats like unlimited money and resources are also not uncommon, but might take away from the challenge that the game presents.
Another strong addition to the game is the inclusion of livestock. This reviewer was more interested in raising cattle and pigs (as an avid animal lover) than plowing the fields, so I opted to purchase a pen's worth of farm fauna. Horses are a brand new feature and also offer an alternate mode of transportation as opposed to the trusty tractor. In fact, horses are required to be ridden several times a day to boost their performance stats, netting the player more money when they sell their prized steed. Riding is goofy at best; the horse moves in rigid motions and teleports around locations, clipping through bridges and flying up steep hills. There are several different speeds (galloping, trotting, etc.) but the horse will grind to an immediate halt if it even barely collides with a fence post or traffic sign. It's clear a lot more precision went into programming the control of the various trucks than the horses.
Farming Simulator 19 wholly embraces each aspect of its design, so its hard to fault it for minor bugs and dated graphics. While many gamers may be looking for a more robust and full experience to spend the next 60 hours of their life in, there's no shortage of content here. So while it's all farming and none of the fighting or shooting or looting, it may be just what some folks are looking for: a pleasant ride in the country. Farming, plain and simple.
Farming Simulator 19 is available now on PC and Mac for $35, and PS4 and Xbox One for $50. Screen Rant was provided with a PS4 download code for the purposes of this review.