So while I’m still working on playing my Steam Challenge game that folks voted on last week, my copy of Farming Simulator for the Nintendo Switch came in yesterday. Don’t look so surprised to see a review of this game here! What’s more surprising is that I’ve never played a Farming Simulator title before now.
So this is a port of Farming Simulator 17 (also known as Traffic Jam Simulator). I mean, anyone who lives in an area where farming is a thing will recognize moments like this…
Thankfully, this simulation isn’t uber-realistic when it comes to physics and damage. In fact, I don’t think you can do damage to anything at all. I mean, I wasn’t going out and out to test that when I front-ended this van, but…
So, for those who want a super realistic and interactive crash-course game, you won’t get that here. It’s a little sad since there are so many fun big machines that have so much destructive potential. Ah, well.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what exactly does Farming Simulator do? I’m going to put right up front, this is a very laid back game that focuses on the machines you use, the mechanics of how these machines work, and you tending fields for crops. I haven’t gotten into husbandry yet, but I’m sure that adds another layer of complexity on it.
This game is not for everyone. For some people, it could get repetitive as you’re constantly in a cycle of working fields and delivering goods. But that means repeating the plow/plant/harvest cycle over and over again. There aren’t really any solid goals, except for the ones you set for yourself. It’s a pretty pure form of sandbox.
I’m not a big machinery nerd IRL or anything, but I found it neat to learn about the different vehicles and their roles in successfully working a field. You have one for plowing, one for planting, and one for harvesting in the beginning. These machines are all true to real life machines (or so I’ve read), and the developers take a lot of pride in working with actual name brands to make this as realistic as possible.
Speaking of vehicles, I especially love how you can tap a button to instantly switch between all of the machines you own. This makes it quick to switch tasks or check on progress, even if you’re in the middle of delivering something on the other side of town.
I also like how the settings are highly customizable — there’s three difficulty levels (I started on Easy) — and you can choose everything from how loud your radio plays (and thankfully how loud your motors run) to how fast time passes in the game.
Speaking of the radio… you can choose between four different stations. All I can say is the Euro idea of Country music is… interesting. Though I’ve never heard any of this music before, there are some good songs on the list… Give this one a listen (listed as Country).
The best part of the game is that you can hire workers to finish tasks for you. So, you start plowing/seeding/harvesting a field, and just a button press puts a worker in your place. Of course, you have to pay them, so this takes a chunk out of your profit. However, this allows you to jump to another task while the worker miraculously makes absolutely perfect rows in your fields.
The most challenging part of the game for me is making perfect rows in my fields. Turning that machine around when you reach the end of the field and lining things up is a lot harder than it looks! Think I’m joking?
Let’s see… so once you get crops harvested, it’s a matter of playing the local economics. You get a list of places that will buy your crops, some higher or lower than others. Obviously, you’d like to sell for the most you can. And if the price has tanked completely, you may want to store your harvest in a silo until the price rises again. I noticed that when I sold to the market, I would drive the price down due to supply/demand.
Aside from that, you can do odd jobs (missions) for other farmers in the area. Find a field that doesn’t belong to you and step in the marker next to it. A screen pops up that allows you to purchase the field or to do a task for pay.
Don’t get too excited, though. Usually the task is something like plowing, sowing, fertilizing or harvesting. Which is… what you’d be doing on your farm. But it’s kinda nice to have your workers going at it on your field while you make extra money on the side. I also noticed that completing these jobs earns you positive reputation with that farmer. I’m not sure what that does (makes the cost of the fields go down should you actually buy it, maybe?).
Of course, doing all of this is working to pay back a loan you took out before the game began. I didn’t see if there was a specific time frame the loan needed to be repayed in, though. I am playing on Easy mode, so things could be different on a harder level.
Also, your vehicles begin to depreciate over time. As the machines get older, the cost of daily maintenance rises. So, you have to budget in vehicle upgrades when the old machine starts to cost more than its worth to hang on to.
I will note that the way time passes is a bit interesting. You control how fast the game time passes — somewhat like a Sims game. The default is super slow, though. In fact, you can choose to play the game real time — like 24 hours for a whole day’s worth of time if you want! I couldn’t image doing that because it seems like you get one harvest per field per day. I guess if you had a lot of fields that would make sense.
Realism goes out the door, though, because your farmer never seems to sleep. Day turns into night, and your farmer can’t interact with their house at all (which bugs me). You can just work right on through the night if you want, I guess. Or speed it up to have the next day come.
If I had any feedback to give, it would be to offer an option to sleep through the night. And decorate my house — it’s just odd that I have a house but can’t do anything with it! But… I guess this isn’t Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. That’s not the kind of focus they want in their game.
So, anyhow, for someone like me, relaxing and tending my crops was something I easily dropped 3 hours into without realizing the time had passed. I’m looking forward to getting into raising livestock and expanding my fields. But I’ll repeat, this is not a game for everyone.
I can’t compare the Switch version to the PC version, but I know the PC version allows mods and multiplayer… the Switch does not (yet). I’d probably never play this multiplayer (no one I know owns it), so that doesn’t effect me. But it looks like multiplay is the way to go if you have it on the PC. It certainly seems like it makes for a lot of fun.
And now, for what you probably came here to see…