Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: January 15, 2019
Farming Simulator 2019 is an open-world first-person and third-person agricultural simulation available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Farming Simulator made its debut on PC with Farming Simulator 2008 before being improved during each sequel for PC with the 2009 and 2011 iterations. Farming Simulator was introduced to more platforms shortly afterwards as the Farming Simulator franchise continued to grow in size and popularity with over 15 million sales globally. Can Farming Simulator 2019 deliver an entertaining simulation of the different avenues of farming?
An optional tutorial is the best place to begin before venturing into career mode as a step-by-step guide teaches the player how to effectively cultivate your land in arable farming; prevent weeds from spoiling your crops; fertilizing fields; growing crops with the best soil; and making and transporting hay bales.
Career mode allows the player to choose between Ravenport or Felsbrunn as the base of the farm followed by customising your own playable character including 8 characters, 4 hairstyles, dozens of hats or no hat, a vest, sunglasses and 24 shirt colours. Farming Simulator 2019’s career mode is rather thorough with lots of thoughtful gameplay elements such as not being able to harvest your crops in adverse weather conditions and being able to hire people to work on designated tasks on your farm in order to help in certain areas of your farm land such as refilling fuel, seeds, fertilizer and more besides. Contracts are offered to you from owners of other fields for varying quantities of in-game currency including harvesting, cultivating or transporting crops and other such activities as mowing grass in a field, drying and baling it and transporting the bales to a barn. Gameplay has a broader scale to it than cultivating farmland and harvesting it; as the player can breed a variety of animals such as chickens, cows, pigs and sheep, alongside riding horses and driving the cargo train around the environment. In-game currency earned by farming on your own land and helping others with farming their land can be utilised to buy more land, equipment, vehicles and animals.
Environment design is focused on farmland, crops and foliage on a huge scale spanning many hectares of farmland and kilometres around it, although there are public roads with traffic to drive along in your tractors to reach the destination where your character will be fulfilling a contract on a field or driving to particular areas to purchase resources with in-game currency.
Farming Simulator 2019 features over 100 officially licensed brands with the introduction of John Deere to the franchise; throughout 20 different types of vehicles including small, medium and large tractors, potato technology, harvesters, mowers and more besides, alongside 41 sets of tools such as loading wagons and animal transportation for varying quantities of in-game currency, while there are also non-officially licensed items such as objects, placeables and landscaping gameplay.
Farming Simulator 2019 has a variety of downloadable content including a free New Holland T6 Blue Power tractor, while there are also further tractors available individually for 79p or alternatively a season pass including all downloadable content packs for £39.99.
Farming Simulator 2019 has not been ported to Vita, although that is usual as Farming Simulator games are normally ported every other year to portable platforms as there have been four Farming Simulator games released on Vita including Farming Simulator, 2014, 2016 and 2018 that have progressively improved in quality and features. Farming Simulator 2019’s remote play performance retains the graphics, audio and general performance in comparison to the PS4 version. However, there is no remote play control scheme optimisation resulting in accelerating and braking or reversing being mapped to the top right and top left of the rear touch pad respectively when it would have been much better suited to re-map them to R and L, while switching the camera angle is mapped to the bottom right of the rear touch pad and toggling the size of the map is remapped to the bottom left of the rear touch pad when holding L. Farming Simulator 2019’s remote play experience does not have optimised controls, but it is still playable and enjoyable after a little bit of readjusting to the remote play controls.
The control scheme is responsive in every facet of gameplay including your character’s movement before driving tractors, while driving tractors involves holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to brake or reverse; holding R1 and pressing O to gradually increase the lighting around your vehicle; holding R1 and pressing X to honk your vehicle’s horn; and changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer, while pressing R3 to switch the camera angle and changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera. Driving tractors also relies upon holding L1 and pressing a button to perform a certain task such as pressing X to fold or unfold the harvester; pressing O to lower or lift header; pressing square to turn on or off the harvester; pressing right on the d-pad to disable or enable the straw swath; pressing down on the d-pad to position the pipe outwards or inwards; pressing L3 to toggle the map size; and changing the direction of the right analogue stick to angle the harvester. Tapping the touch pad displays a list of brands, vehicles, tools, objects, placeables and landscaping, although there is no vibration that could have emphasised when a tractor or vehicle is driving over tough or bumpy terrain, alongside no light bar support that could have produced the colour of the tractor or vehicle the player was driving at that moment or to show when a part on the tractor or vehicle had worn to the point of needing repair or replacing and when fuel had almost run out.
Graphically, Farming Simulation 2019’s enhanced graphics engine looks pretty good as the foliage and crops are impressive when viewed close up, while the vehicles and tractors all look quite detailed and well animated. However, the draw distance could be better for the far distant crops and foliage, especially trees on the horizon, while the interior view does not show the farmer’s hands and arms moving the steering wheel even though the third-person perspective contains those animations, so there is still some room for graphical improvements in future sequels, but Farming Simulator 2019 is graphically punching above its weight.
Farming Simulator 2019’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, career mode menus, online multiplayer menus, tutorials menus, mods menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on a tractor driving along a path between crops with animals and trees in the distance.
Sound effects include attaching tools and preparing the relevant tractor, driving tractors, honking the horn of a tractor, animals and ambience; complimented by instrumental bluesy rock music on menus, while there are a plethora of full songs on a variety of radio stations that are each dedicated to playing rock, pop, electro, country and 70s music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation could have produced sound effects such as tractors, animals, ambience or music.
The trophy list includes 24 trophies with 6 bronze trophies, 11 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Longplay gold trophy for reaching 10 hours of playing time in a single save game; the A Good Deed bronze trophy for completing one mission; and the Happy Plants bronze trophy for fertilizing one hectare. Harder trophies include the Humongous Harvest gold trophy for harvesting 100 hectares and the Egg Lord silver trophy for breeding 100 chickens. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 40 to 50 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels for career mode including new farmer, farm manager and start from scratch. New farmer difficulty provides some land and equipment to help get you started, while farm manager allocates substantial funds to start buying land, buildings and equipment as none of them are immediately provided to begin farming on. However, start from scratch difficulty is definitely the hardest difficulty as not only does your character have very limited capital to buy anything, but you also have no land or equipment, while prices are low due to a tough economy and gameplay is at its most realistic to real world farming. Every difficulty level has a multitude of options that customises the difficulty to the player’s preferences such as if crops could spoil over time, economic factors and much more besides. It is worth noting that the tutorials from the main menu are very helpful in preparing the player to have the relevant technique and awareness of what to do next within each stage of farming.
Farming Simulator 2019 comprises ambitious online multiplayer were two to half a dozen players can build a farm in online co-operative multiplayer with gameplay features and performance that are the equivalent of single player gameplay. Meanwhile, there is rather sensationally mod support on all platforms that can be downloaded and purchased for varying quantities of in-game currency including vehicles, farmhouse designs, sheds, tools, deck chairs and much more besides. However, it would have been even better if it included competitive multiplayer for two or more players to compete in fulfilling contracts quicker than the other player, a group of contracts or farming your own crops more successfully than the other player; reminiscent to that of Farming Simulator 2017: Championship Edition, while split-screen multiplayer for local co-operative and competitive multiplayer would also be further future improvements to the Farming Simulator franchise.
Farming Simulator 2019’s replayability stems from the diversity of the career mode and its three difficulty levels; complimented by authentic farming gameplay elements and animal breeding, alongside officially licensed tractors, vehicles and tools, while mod support and online co-operative multiplayer for two to half a dozen players will collectively bring players back for more farming and animal breeding for quite some time.
• Title: Farming Simulator 2019
• Developer: Giants Software
• Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1/2-6 (Online Co-operative Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 7.38GB (Version 1.04)