Farming Simulator 2015 Review

Put on your wellies and dungarees. Farming Simulator 2015 has arrived on Xbox One and Xbox 360!

Take to the fields on your own and turn a few plots of land into a sprawling countryside business, or join up to five of your friends in online multiplayer to split the workload, and the rewards!

The Farming Simulator games have been around on PC since 2007, but this has been my first experience with the series. The build up prior to the games release had been a little hit and miss in terms of reaction from gamers ranging from the entire concept being mocked and laughed at by most, to what I have to say seemed like a bizarre level of excitement from others. It was that excited group who simply couldn’t wait for Farming Simulator 2015 to arrive that peaked my own interest – there had to be something enjoyable about this, and that has proved to be the case.

 

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I have absolutely no interest in farming but what I do enjoy are strategy and simulation games, and Farming Simulator 2015 combines the best of both genres and does a great job of it too. Such a good job in fact that it’s very easy to completely forget yourself, and to forget the fact that you’re quite simply driving a Combine Harvester up and down a field, straight line after straight line, and before you know it your dinner is cold. The cup of tea my girlfriend brought me is stone cold. Hours have passed by and you had absolutely no idea!

There are two game modes for you to choose from. In Career mode you go it alone starting with just three fields, in your choice of two destinations (one in the USA and one slap bang in the middle of Scandinavia). Depending on the difficulty setting you have chosen the assets you begin with will differ. Being new to the series I chose to take the easy option, but even then I was in debt to the bank from the very start! On the plus side I had a ready-to-harvest field of wheat and after a short tutorial process getting me to grips with vehicle controls and selling crops, my farming career had begun.

 

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The game is not as simple as planting seeds, waiting for them to grow, harvesting them and then selling your yield. It is much more in-depth than that… much, much more, in-depth. There are a variety of seeds you can plant in your fields. You may find yourself needing new vehicle parts, or entirely new vehicles, to harvest different crops and there are well over 100 different vehicles in the game allowing you to start up a number of income streams. Stick to fields and crops, opt to herd cattle and keep chickens and sheep too. When you have money to burn, which will take some time, you can place Solar Panels on your lands which will earn you a healthy daily return and the same can be said of Wind Turbines, which cost a measly 1.25 million. Bargain right?

Whatever you choose to do you will need to use your head to plan what needs to be done and in what order to get the best return from your efforts. For example while you harvest a field, you can hire a worker to use another tractor to come along behind you cultivating so the field is ready for more seeds – and behind him, hire another worker to sow those seeds! A little bit of thinking and strategy can play a big part in your success, or failure.

If you get a little lonely, don’t panic! Farming Simulator 2015 supports up to six player multiplayer, allowing you to split the workload and the rewards with your Xbox Live friends. Jump into a party and lose yourselves as you discuss who’s doing what, decide on important purchases which will benefit your farm or just do what our News Editor did last night, and face-plant your tractor into the floor while attempting to pull wheelies. The point is whatever you decide to do in multiplayer there is plenty of fun to be had despite the fact that you’re all just driving around in tractors and other farm equipment. With no interest in farming before this game, I too thought this had no right to be enjoyable, but it has proved me completely wrong.

 

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One criticism of the multiplayer mode, for now at least, is the stability. Personally I’ve had next to no lag issues whatsoever, but a few others who I’ve been playing with have done – and at times it seems to be quite bad. Hopefully that will improve in the near future.

When the hard work is done, you need to cash in on your goods. There are a number of buildings and outlets scattered around the open world maps which all have unique uses. Take your harvest to the Train Station to sell, head to the Shop to collect any new farm vehicles or equipment you buy or to sell old machines you no longer need, head to the Petrol Stations to fill up your Tractors and Harvesters before they’re off the road or head to the Job Boards to see if there are any urgent, well paying orders that you and your workers or friends could fulfil. You’ll also come across Warehouses, Diners, Biogas Plants, Restaurants, Lumber yards, Biomass Heating Plants, Garden Centres and Flour Mills.

The in-game visuals are nothing special by today’s standards, but they are plenty good enough to keep your interest from waning. Frame-rates can at times leave you with slightly jaded animation too but again, it’s really not noticeable enough to detract from the games appeal. The sound on the other hand is quite impressive, with different vehicles sounding different which certainly adds to the feeling of being there on an actual working farm. The controls can be a little tricky to master at first, but Farming Simulator 2015 does a great job of helping you from the very start showing you clearly what buttons do what in each vehicle and once you’ve got them down, you can turn off the automatic tips.

Personally I will be going back to Farming Simulator 2015 again and again. It’s strangely therapeutic and great to play with friends. I will eventually go back to Career Mode too and try to bag some achievements, which at first glimpse sound like a real challenge, but who doesn’t like a challenge?!

So if you’re looking for something a little different to give yourself a breather and some time away from the Battlefield Hardline, the Dying Light, the Destiny, and you’ve enjoyed tycoon games in the past, Farming Simulator 2015 is exactly what you need.

Out now on XBox One and Xbox 360 (both tested) and PS4, PS3 and PC, Mac, PSVita and 3DS

By Scott Hutcheson