The long-running farming simulation franchise is here with yet another entry that does exactly what you expect of it and not much more.
Sometimes, a game is exactly what you expect of it. It doesn’t happen often, but there are those rare few times where you can immediately look at a game and tell what kind of experience you’re going to have with it. Farming Simulator 19 is one of those games. With one glance, you can gleam the kind of experience you’re going to have with the title. This can be a comfort for new customers and existing fans alike. But if you’re not interested in the base concept, there’s nothing else around the corner to surprise skeptics.
A franchise ten years strong, the Farming Simulator games have tapped into the curiosity many of us hold but will never actually realize: what would a life of cultivating crops, raising livestock, and transporting wheat around be like? Players of all ages and all walks of life can come and try their hand, learn their tools, and get a taste for what this lifestyle holds. And it’s fair to say that developer Giants Software knows exactly what their audience wants and has been more than happy to provide that experience over the years. So how does everything hold up in this latest iteration of the farming simulation franchise?
"If the idea of doing the same work over and over for hours on end without much noticeable change doesn’t sound enjoyable to you, this is not the game for you."
To start off, graphics in Farming Simulator 19 are only serviceable in many cases. Grass textures and trees look fine but there is an issue with pop-in off in the distance. The machines are the nicest looking-things in this title and there are a ton of them. This is the largest selection of licensed machines the series has seen up to date. You can customize the look of your machinery and with the option of leasing the machinery at a cheap price, you’ll be able to get a good look at almost all of it. Most of the animation present in the game is on the machinery and for the most part, it looks fine. Unfolding your machinery in order to get it working looks nice and your vehicles in general were obviously given the most attention. Although there are some things like piping in wheat or chainsawing trees which come out looking amatuer and not what is expected from a ten-year long running simulation franchise.
Gameplay in this title consists of operating certain machinery to scoop up your crops, tow your fields, seed your fields again, and plenty of other activities. You could forgo the crop-cultivating life all together and start up an animal farm or a tree cutting operation. The game has a starting tutorial where it teaches you the basics of the game and how to go about farming crops. There are also plenty of helpful tips in the back of the menu on everything from transporting wheat to taking care of your farm animals. These guides are indispensable and, as an example, proved incredibly helpful when it came to feeding my chickens for the first time. Although, this gameplay is heavily reliant on just how much you want to immerse yourself in the farming lifestyle. You can present two players the exact same field to plow and while one will go about their work with a care and serenity that real farmers employ, the other player will just be bored. This is a divisive title. You have to set your own goals and work towards them. And if the idea of doing the same work over and over for hours on end without much noticeable change doesn’t sound enjoyable to you, this is not the game for you.
"There is multiplayer but in my experience, it was a very disappointing part of the package."
There are some things about the gameplay that I feel could be more immersive though. For one thing, driving in this title can be too akin to an arcade racer with high acceleration and a lack of any meaningful feedback from turning or hitting an object. The pick-up truck especially tops out quickly and has strange physics properties when it comes to transporting objects in the bed. The first-person viewpoint from the dashboard is a nice feature, but it is disappointing that many of the buttons and switches you see are only for show and do not actually have a function. While driving my wheat from place to place, the fact that I couldn’t throw on a blinker while out in traffic seemed strange to me. For a game that has you operating so much machinery, the fact that the heavy vehicles don’t feel more like the lumbering beasts they are really breaks the fantasy of really operating this farming equipment.
The gameplay is hampered from the lack of polish present in the title. During my time, I experienced plentiful glitches and unintended bugs. The aforementioned physics often present a problem for players. For example, while operating the forklift, it’s possible to lower the machinery down too far and end up clipping through the ground. This usually leads to the forklift flipping over because half of it is now underneath the ground. On another occasion, the dog that I purchased would blink in and out existence when I wanted to play fetch with him and refuse to actually fetch the ball. There are also issues with vehicles getting stuck on little bits of collision and needing to be fiddled with for a bit before they can be used. These are small gripes, but they end up adding up over the course of a playthrough. And they especially stick out in the context of a simulation game where the point in to become as immersed as possible.
There is multiplayer but in my experience, it was a very disappointing part of the package. Despite trying for over thirty minutes, I could barely find a lobby that would allow me access. Then once I finally found a game, the connection was unstable, with players running in place for minutes on end and synchronization errors popping up constantly. I was using a wired connection so these experiences were doubly worrying. The other stable game that I ended up finding presented another problem: the lobby’s farm was password-protected, disallowing me from even entering a vehicle. Eventually, I ended up making a lobby of my own but no-one ended up joining. This is too bad because the thought of having other players around to speed up the farming process as well as coordinate with sounds like a good time. Bringing in some of your own friends is definitely the way to go here.
"Farming Simulator 19 continues the franchise’s tradition of providing a service for a very niche audience without trying to expand out to new audiences."
Ultimately, those of you who are in the know will have already made up your mind about whether or not you’re going to purchase this title. Fans of Farming Simulator will find more of what they enjoyed in the previous entries here. They will also enjoy some of the tertiary features added like horse riding or the addition of John Deere. For the rest of us, this title will depend heavily on just how much you want to buy into the fantasy of running farming operations repeatedly over and over without much in way of variation.
This game can be a zen experience of zoning out and just going about your work in game. But it can just as easily be a drag if the experience doesn’t click with you. It didn’t click with me and I want to be clear with the audience that this game is objectively a title with value for players, regardless of its technical and gameplay issues. But subjectively, this is not a game that resonates with me. Farming Simulator 19 continues the franchise’s tradition of providing a service for a very niche audience without trying to expand out to new audiences. But I’m sure that’s more than alright with the millions of fans it’s cultivated over the years.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Fairly immersive, Multiple gameplay options.
Repetitive gameplay, Lack of technical polish and Sub-par graphics.
Farming Simulator 19 is a title that will appease existing fans but does nothing to entice outside audiences into trying the farming lifestyle.