Farming Simulator 2015 is the newest update to the annual franchise created by GIANTS Software. With an upgraded physics and graphic engine, there’s enough on offer to draw the attention of series veterans, but it is any good for newcomers?
Well, the game (which, true to its name, simulates all the monotony of farming) has a very detailed tutorial mode, so that’s a start. And really, this should be the first thing you do, even if you have played previous games in the series, as it will help teach you new aspects like forestry. When you boot up the main campaign, you’ll get the chance to go through some contextual tutorials, but nothing beats the dedicated tutorial mode.
This is especially true because, of the main campaign’s two (massive) maps, only in Bjornholm is there a choice to have tutorial pickups activated. You have three different difficulties to pick from, which mainly determine how much money you start the game with, and long loading screen before the game proper kicks off. Thankfully, this seems to be the only loading screen in the game.
Is the game worth the wait and the somewhat steep hill of entry? That depends greatly on the satisfaction you’ll feel from a long, slow burn of uneventful activities and determined progress. Farming Simulator’s whole purpose, as you might expect, is making the best and profitable farm you can. Consequently, the game has no real ending, and with decent profits take a long time to generate, it’s a game that demands genuine patience. With every monetary triumph comes a hurdle–you will spend most of your profits buying better equipment, of which there is plenty. From harvesters, mowers, and bailers to cows and plows, there’s plenty to sink your number-crunching teeth into. But even beyond the helpful tutorials, series veterans will have a much easier going. How else would you know that chickens are a wise early investment because they do not have any recurring costs, or that the cows aren’t a great investment until later on, or that side job missions are a critical part of building early funds?
Beyond a frustrating lack of information, some quirky design choices persist. For example, you can hire workers to do menial jobs for you, but I find they are ridiculously slow for their cost, seem to drive at one mile-per-hour while working, and randomly stop for no reason. Considering how big the plots of land can be, and how much the workers cost, this feels ill-conceived. You can play the game with up to five friends online, which alleviates somewhat my frustrations with tired workers.
Additionally, traveling throughout your plots can take what seems like ages, especially if you don’t purchase enough vehicles to fill the map with fast travel options. But in some ways, this is a plus and benefits immersion. Farming Simulator 2015 has a very open world with lots of different shops and locations. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from one side to the other and much shorter driving. The first-person view when walking (optional for driving) invites a more immersive farming experience, and the roads in town are busy enough that you can see people walking about doing their daily activities.
On the technical side, some physics problems entertained me. The farmer being able to scale some buildings and vertical mountains just by walking up them, and I was able to climb a circus tent to crouch on the pole up top just by walking up the side of it. The framerate can suffer if you let the straw pile up on the ground or move into certain camera angles.
Overall, the game is a step up from Farming Simulator 2014 with better graphics, more options, new locations, and 6-player online co-op for farming “action” with your friends. But unless you’re a diehard fan, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend a game that caters to such a niche market–especially when the welcome to newcomers isn’t very warm.