Since 2013, I have had a strange obsession over the idea of buying Farming Simulator for the Xbox 360. It wasn’t until Christmas of 2015 when I picked up Farming Simulator 15 on the Xbox One, did I give it a chance. With a few friends jumping on board with me, we decided to co-operatively start a career in virtual farming. Here’s our story.
Having each completed the time consuming tutorials, it was easy to see that the game isn’t difficult to get involved with, it’s just a case of learning how farming works, with cultivating, sowing, fertilizing and harvesting being the order in which you do everything procedurally. The game only gives you access to the basic functions of what’s on offer, with the more advanced options behind expensive pay walls such as potato sowing, solar panels and animal husbandry. That was fine for me, as I’m new to the whole experience, and it’s a case of “one step at a time” which I can deal with.
Two friends and I jumped into our new game, especially titled ‘4-One Farming’, and after a minute of jumping around in circles, admiring our avatars and seeing if he would climb onto barns and houses, we started to get to work. The game’s world is massive. As massive as a farming world should be, with a large selection of fields available to buy, while only three of them are available for use at the beginning. Dotted around the map are notice boards where you can take on individual missions such as ‘take x to this company’ to receive a cash bonus. That could be a certain weight of a particular crop, or using a forklift to take heavy loads of goods from A to B. It sounds easy, but wait until you try using a forklift’s arms effectively!
There are various industrial places littered around the map, each who accept a particular type of crop or resources, so you can’t take the wheat to anyone for example. After 5 hours of gameplay, we found the list of who takes what, learning that Google searches weren’t entirely necessary to find out more about how the game works! Some companies took common harvested goods, and each offered different prices that would vary throughout the game’s passing time. But first we needed crops to sell, and that involved farming. I know right, in Farming Simulator!
In our farm, we had access to four basic tractors, a little underpowered, but sufficient for the foreseeable tasks ahead. We also had a cultivator attachment, a sower for our seeds, and a trailer. Available too was a mighty fine harvester, with the figures ‘C6’ on the side of it. Swapping them around, I named her ‘Sexy’. Get it? She’s a beaut! Within the grounds of our farm, we also had places to stock up on seeds and fertilizer. Using these would deduct money from our accounts, but that’s fine. No seeds, no growth. We can eventually create our own fertilizer, but that’s way down the list of what’s available to us right now.
Taking the first tractor onto the field, we cultivated the land, involving long lines back and forth until the land was ready for planting. Tractor two then hit the field with the sower, laying down a few rows of wheat to begin our career as full time farmers. We decided to sell one of our tractors so we could fund a fertilizer, as fertilized crops resulted in better income. A sacrifice for the greater cause. For our second field, we rotated the jobs, so that nobody got bored, and everyone could get used to the new procedures and responsibilities. We also had to deal with Lindsey driving one of our tractors into a river, along with the front weight and the trailer full of sugar. The feckin’ eejit. Thankfully the game includes an option to reset your vehicles and equipment back on your farm. Clearly that has happened before in the development team or in the community!
While initially it seemed like it would take hours of waiting around for crops to grow, the game allows you to speed up time considerably, and it doesn’t take months to grow your crops like you would expect. It would be a very boring game if that was the case, more boring than you’re probably thinking right now. Farming simulation? Really? Yes really!
The time had come to harvest, so out came ‘Sexy’ as we slowed the game time back to normal. Lindsey would do the harvesting, while I drove alongside her in my tractor, pulling the trailer. It seemed that the harvester’s crop carrying capacity wasn’t sufficient enough to hold all of a field’s produce, resulting in a few stop offs to empty the load (a few innuendos pursued), so as a time saver, dual driving was the order of the day, as seen below.
Following a few hours of ‘rinse and repeat’ cultivating, sowing, fertilizing and harvesting, we then invested in a more expensive cultivator. Having to do so many rows of a field was tiring, and our new cultivator cut the work in half, as it covered 6 meters instead of 3 meters. Still, getting used to reversing with a trailer was a tough one, but we’re all getting there! We sold off more and more crops based on increases in asking price from the local businesses. When harvesting our crops, we would take the trailer to the silo, and unload for storage. Drive to the other side of the silo and there is a pipe, allowing you to choose what produce you wish to fill your trailer with. A few trips back and forth to different companies with different goods, and money was now coming in good. Rob and I would ponder over how to spend our accumulated money, and put it to more effective use. Strategy in farming, imagine!
With our new machinery and an increase to our work speed, we saved our money for a new field. This one is close enough to our farming ‘base’ where we leave our trackers and equipment overnight before we save the game to switch off. We’re very organised! The new field is long, and the idea of sowing on it makes us uneasy. Next on our list of things to buy is a bigger sower. The coverage of our basic one means a lot of work in planting our seeds. We already invested in a corn harvester attachment, which differs from the wheat, barley and canola harvesting tool. That increases our options on what we can grow, and what we can sell. A larger sower will speed up the process over the four fields we own.
A friend who was listening in to us farming away one evening asked “What is the point of the game? What will you do when you own all the fields, are harvesting all sorts of crops, looking after cows and sheep, have chopped down all the trees and made loads of money? What then? Is there an ending?” I answered with a simple “That would be a fantastic 600 hours of work done, and getting there should be a fun challenge.” It’s not the most exciting game that I can recommend to friends. In fact, I wouldn’t try force anyone to buy it. A demo for such a game is certainly a good idea, but for the three of us already after 10 hours of gameplay, we are hooked and fascinated by what there is to do, how fun it is to do it with friends (up to 6 players in a game), and just how relaxing it all is. There are more than enough shooters, racing games and RPGs on the market, why not take a break and enjoy something like farming?