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Pure Farming 2018 is a brand new farming simulator IP from Dying Light publisher Techland and debut developer IceFlames. Initially announced back in 2016, Pure Farming was quietly delayed and re-announced in the summer of 2017 as Pure Farming 2018, and come March 13 it’ll enter a market dominated by GIANTS’ Farming Simulator and upcoming title, Cattle and Crops.

While the Farming Simulator series has barely been contested over the past couple of years, both Cattle and Crops and Pure Farming hope to muscle in on their turf and sow their own seeds to hopefully out-grow the somewhat stale opposition. Pure Farming 2018 is set to do this by offering no only a way for new players to dive into this unique yet incredibly popular genre of simulation, but also offer a fresh take on the genre to win over fans.

Following our comparison of Farming Simulator and Pure Farming from Gamescom 2016, it was nice to take up the offer to have an extensive hands-on with Pure Farming 2018 along with a more casual chat with the development team to see how they’ve been getting on, and I have to say I found the game thoroughly enjoyable.

I’ll be honest, sometimes at these hands-on sessions I find it a little awkward to have the developers or PR breathing down your neck when you’re playing their game, but there was something a little different about Techland / IceFlames, they were keen to show you and tell you about their game rather than standing behind you silently watching. They were also often happy to put their hands up and admit when something may have broken in the game. The team made me feel at ease and allowed me to enjoy the game and poke fun at certain aspects, without it feeling awkward, which was refreshing.

Pure Farming 2018 Hands-on Preview - n3rdabl3

Onto the game itself, if you’re familiar with farming simulator games, Pure Farming doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary so that you feel wildly out of the loop, but at the same time there are little touches here and there which give it a refreshing feel. The build of the game we were given hands-on with features two of the tree modes coming at launch, Free Mode and Farming Challenges.

Given my experience with Farming Simulator, I dove straight into the Free Mode and gave the game a whirl. In this particular build we were given hands-on with the Germany map which will be coming all players who have pre-ordered the game. This map, compared to others in the game, is one of the smallest available, with some basic amenities and its own exclusive produce: Sheep.

Much like Farming Simulator, in Pure Farming 2018 you begin with some bare bones equipment, in this case it was a basic tractor and combine. From here I had the choice to either purchase a field and begin growing crops, or dive into raising livestock. Because I like a challenge, I did both and quickly found that I perhaps started with a very modest bank balance. After a couple of loans, I had a working farm and I was on my way to growing crops, raising cattle, and growing tomatoes in my greenhouse.

Despite playing on the PC build, I couldn’t escape my console roots and grabbed the nearest Xbox One controller. In terms of the controls, Pure Farming is actually a lot more intuitive than other farming sim games. While there are a series of different menus to switch between by pressing the shoulder buttons, attaching equipment is actually way easier as the left and right shoulder buttons correspond to the back and front of the vehicle.

Pure Farming 2018 Hands-on Preview - n3rdabl3

If, for example, you’re wanting to attach a cultivator, all of the controls for that attachment will be bound to the right bumper. Anything on the front of the machine, such as a bail fork, can be controlled using the left bumper. It actually made using multiple tools very simple and made working a lot more efficient.

In terms of managing your farm, Pure Farming 2018 has all of this found in a handy little tablet in the game. From here you can assess your current crops and inventory, view the map, and even purchase items from the shop to have delivered to your farm. One of the main things I found frustrating with Farming Simulator was always having to take a trip to the store to pick up equipment. That being said, while this feature is convenient, it does cost a premium, so if you’re pinching the pennies, it might be worth heading to the store anyway.

Another nice little feature is the use of a drone to survey your farm. Sending up the drone allows you to quickly navigate around your land and check the status on all of your different crops and livestock. When hovering near fields, you’ll be presented with a bar chart showing you the status of your field from how much it’s been ploughed, fertilised, or how far along the growth of your crop is.

After a good hour with Pure Farming 2018‘s Free Mode and racking up a couple hundred thousand in debt, I moved onto the Farming Challenges, mostly so I could get a feel for all of the other environments in the game and their unique crops and produce. What I found really interesting was the detail that went into each location. In Japan, the developers have taken time to create a little town with a shrine complete with Japanese architecture, in Columbia, there are palm trees, bridges held together with rope that float on the river with barrels, and you get the overall feel of the humid environment.

Pure Farming 2018 Hands-on Preview - n3rdabl3

Pure Farming 2018 is different. While it shares features of other sims, I mean, it’s a farming simulator after all, there are plenty of unique features from the different locale-exclusive produce, to the added challenge of managing all five locations at once in Free Mode as each farm continues to turn over while you’re globetrotting.

Overall I spent around two hours on Pure Farming 2018 but it didn’t feel like it, I was more than surprised when PR stopped by to say that our session had ended. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game and I genuinely can’t wait to play more.

Pure Farming 2018 hits Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on March 13. For more information and to pre-order, head on over to the game’s website.