Farming Simulator 15 is the series’ first outing on current gen consoles and to celebrate that the game comes with a multiplayer mode that allows you to join friends and strangers on their own farm to work together. There’s also the addition of some new tools, tasks, and more to keep you occupied, provided you can progress that far.
For those who have never played a fully fledged Farming Simulator title, the game simply throws you into a fully working farm where you have complete freedom to do what you please. Whether it’s to work hard planting and harvesting crops, becoming the king of livestock, or in this particular game, become a top-notch lumberjack. There are no rules, but at the same time, there are no real instructions.
With that, you can easily feel in over your head with the game, but that’s okay. For beginners the game offers you enough to start with so you don’t feel so out of your depth and there’s plenty of room for mistakes. I would recommend however to search the many sources online so you don’t find yourself buying attachments and parts for vehicles you don’t yet own. It’s also worth having a thumb through the digital manual too.
It is however very easy to pick up the basics and have the farm working for you in your favour. Much like the past Farming Simulator titles, you can hire workers to complete the long-winded tasks (and do them a million times better too), while you work on selling produce or completing some of the missions presented on the information boards dotted around the map.
Soon enough however you’ll quickly fall into the rhythm of ploughing fields, sowing seeds, watching your crops grow, which at normal speed can feel like an actual decade, harvesting those crops, tipping them into your storage, and then going back to the start. Though it seems like a bit of a drag, once you begin to see some return from your (read: your workers) hard work, the game feels oddly compelling.
If you’ve been watching the clock however, you’ll also feel a slight sense of dread with Farming Simulator 15. As you may have noticed, the game launched a good few weeks ago, and during that time I’ve been working my thumbs to the bone to experience everything I can in the game. Abouth 30 hours in however, I feel like I’ve barely touched the surface and have racked up a ton of in-game debt in the mean time.
You see, though successfully harvesting crop and tending to your chickens can offer some form of satisfaction. You’ll find that one simple task can take you hours to complete. Though time does fly, once you realise you’ve been at it for three hours and you’ve only managed to harvest one field. It all quickly starts to feel like you’ve wasted a lot of your time.
Granted, the game time can be increased to allow things to grow quicker and days to go faster, there’s just this overwhelming guilt that you’ve wasted a ton of in-game time too as three days have essentially passed and all you’ve managed to do is sell 4,000 tonnes of wheat.
Of course, this is Farming Simulator 15, what else did I expect to be doing? Though at times the game can feel like a bit of a drag, and short sessions really do make the game feel much better, if you’re wanting to progress to something more, you’re going to need to start taking out loans to purchase the equipment needed.
That being said, if you can juggle managing a farm, livestock, and even a woodcutting job, you can quickly see those crippling debts become more easy to manage. It does however take a lot of work and a lot of driving from one place to another switching out tractors and other vehicles.
Honestly, I don’t envy farmers.
Graphically, Farming Simulator 15 apparently has a new physics and graphics engine making it the best looking game in the series. Sadly I can’t comment on past games, but there’s just something about the way the game looks that’s just a little off. The field of view is poor, and there’s a lot of texture pop-ins when you’re travelling a long distance. Fields do look pretty from a distance, but as soon as you get closer you soon realise that they’re still just flat texture sprites which you can easily drive through without causing any harm.
The game’s controls are at times also a fair bit fiddly, though with each vehicle having so many different controls, it comes as no surprise that Giants Software have tried to cram all they can onto the fairly limited controls of an Xbox One controller.
Probably where the game exceeds is the multiplayer, the part of the game where you can either open up your farm to other people, or join other players to help them complete tasks. Some have taken the initiative to request players for certain jobs, others just bark at you to do this or that.
If you’ve got a couple of friends with the game, this is when it can become a little more fun as you can all work together to create a smooth running farm, raking in the cash by sharing all of the work.
That being said though, if you can encourage your friends to spend £30 on a game which is essentially one giant bundle of chores, you’ll have a good time, on your own however, you’ll find that managing a farm isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be. There’s a lot of repetitiveness, there control system can at times be a little fiddly, and even the ability to earn some cash from completing job offers can bare little reward.
Oddly though, I don’t dislike Farming Simulator 15. Nobody said working on a farm was going to be easy, but what the game lacks is some form of loose tutorial, something that tells you what vehicles offer what, whether you require a certain type of tractor for this certain attachment. Instead you’re often purchasing equipment you can’t use only to return it for half the price.
I don’t want my hand being held, as that would be too much, but perhaps some prompts, or a way of letting the player know that a certain tool can’t be used just yet.
This review of Farming Simulator 15 was based on the Xbox One version of the game provided by Focus Home Interactive.