Farming Simulator 17 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 25.03.2017

Review for Farming Simulator 17 on PlayStation 4

Armchair agriculturists have had numerous options to get their plough on over the years. Probably one of the best known farm 'em ups is the long running Harvest Moon series that originally kicked off on the Super Nintendo way back in 1997 and has seen countless iterations since. Then there's Stardew Valley, a popular recent title sporting a retro visual style that has clearly been influenced by the aforementioned gem, and let's not forget about the irritating Farmville, long regarded as the scourge of Facebook. However, none of these titles cater to the more hardcore farming enthusiast, who would relish the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Massey Ferguson and break the soil in preparation for a bumper crop of barley. Well, fret ye not, farm hands, as Giants Software will make your dung-based dreams a reality (albeit via the medium of videogames), with the brand new Farming Simulator 17 (originally reviewed on PC here).

Undoubtedly, farmers put in some seriously long hours and work damn hard for their money. After all, it's an industry driven by the output of perishable end products that, despite an unwavering demand, are constantly at the mercy of external factors that can affect both the yield and quality. Farming Simulator 17 provides a sanitised opportunity to step into those green wellies, take charge of, intensely labour in, and expand upon one of two small holdings located in either a US (Goldcrest Valley) or European (Sosnovka) based environment. To make essential tasks a little bit easier, there are also over 250 accurately reproduced vehicles from all the major manufacturers, as well as an in game railway system for exporting produce further afield.

Rather than concentrating on just one aspect of running a productive farm, Giants Software has given wannabe ranchers the options of cultivating traditional arable crops, tending to livestock, and for the first time ever in the series, forestry (err, trees). As one might expect, the key to successful crop cultivation involves following a set of procedures in a particular order. The soil needs "loosening" up; the field should be weeded to ensure growth is unrestricted; and once a crop has taken to a field it will need to be fertilised at least three times using either manure, slurry or an alternative high yield manufactured equivalent. Once these conditions have been met, the crop can be successfully harvested, used locally, or sold on to local traders. Farmers playing the long game should also consider planting oilseed radish, which can be broken down into the soil mid cycle to restore depleted nutrients which will benefit the crop to follow.

Screenshot for Farming Simulator 17 on PlayStation 4

In terms of livestock it pays off to practice basic animal welfare, so, as long as they get regularly tended to, they should stay fairly happy and productive. The pigs require a well-balanced diet of maize and protein, as well as a regular supply of fresh water and will regularly need cleaning out to ensure they stay healthy. Cows differ slightly as they will eat a hybrid mix of hay, straw, and silage, which will help maximise milk yields going forward. Both require regular clean straw for bedding, and the smart farmer wise to the recycling loop will have already planned for this event by bailing up previous harvests which he/she should have stored in the barn. Finally, the resulting animal waste provides a free source of fertiliser for the next batch of crops. Given the right conditions (soft lights and a bit of Barry White on the boombox), the patter of tiny hooves/trotters is inevitable and an increased herd means the farmer is making extra bank further on down the line.

Purchasing a chainsaw opens up a whole world of opportunity, as everybody knows that a tree technician with a strong log game has a license to print money. Speaking of money, all goods produced or harvested can be sold at any one of a number of local outlets, and all subject to the in-game economy, meaning that the prices offered can and will fluctuate from day to day. Conversely this starts off with a sizable debt to the bank that will need to be paid off at some point, although this can be extended to pay for new machinery, land, or consumables such as fuel, fertiliser, or feed-mix.

It's advisable early on to hire in some labour to help with the jobs on the homestead, leaving them to toil on the fields so one of the many other money making opportunities can be pursued. By far the easiest way to boost income is to help out neighbouring farmers with their daily tasks which, besides providing the opportunity to try out many different combinations of machines, also pay big dividends, even up to £50,000.00. Furthermore, upgrading equipment as the money rolls in makes perfect sense as better items tend to get the job done quicker at a greater capacity and older vehicles surplus to requirements can be sold on to help with the costs.

Screenshot for Farming Simulator 17 on PlayStation 4

Considering that Farming Simulator 17 is being touted as a large, fertile sandbox, designed for the deployment of a vast selection of agricultural machinery, there's zero opportunity for horseplay or wacky hijinks. For example, hopping into a combine harvester with the intent of carving out a few crop circles in a neighbouring farmer's corn field is impossible given that any attempts to do so weirdly transforms the implement of mischief into the vehicular equivalent of Patrick Swayze in 'Ghost,' and, let's be honest, trashing your own field just isn't as much fun. The bottom line here is that farming is a job, and like most jobs it can get a bit repetitive at times. Would any real life farmer play this in his downtime? Who knows? Would anybody play a simulated version of any job such as this? Yours truly sincerely hopes not!

Despite having this massive array of gear at our virtual farm hand's disposal, it almost always boils down to: attach this implement to the back/front of the vehicle, attach a counter weight to the opposite end if required, turn the machine on , get to work. While this might sound like a moan, it really isn't by any stretch, as this oddly chilled out gameplay loop is the perfect excuse to fire up Spotify (or one of the in-game radio stations), kick back, and spend an hour spraying pig excrement up and down a field (yay for cruise control).

It's the videogame equivalent of those inexplicably popular adult colouring books. Failure isn't even on the table, as a lot of the challenges facing modern agriculture are conspicuous by their absence. No bank foreclosures as a result of crippling debt, no meddling Government mandates or regulations, no sudden outbreaks of Mad Cow disease to deal with, no Carbon Footprint to worry about, no crops being ravaged by a sudden plague of locusts. In fact the only mild peril in here is the risk of a slightly neglected crop withering on the stalk, and even that aspect can be disabled if required.

Screenshot for Farming Simulator 17 on PlayStation 4

The day/night cycle is constant and has no enforced cut off point meaning that 24-hour farming, seven days a week, with no signs of slowing down or fatigue, is the stark reality in Giants Software's world. Annoyingly, this messes with the whole concept of tending to the crops in a timely manner, as all the days tend to blur into one after a while and it becomes increasingly harder to keep tabs on which part of the process is required on each individual field. Given that the current colour coded map system can make the next step in the process a bit vague to ascertain, it'd be preferable to be greeted by a "This field needs to be ploughed/sown/weeded/fertilised/harvested" message whenever an owned plot of land is approached.

Given that the average crop needs fertilising three times before harvest it soon becomes a case of just repeatedly spreading everything everywhere just to be on the safe side. The lack of any natural occurring temporal boundaries means that heading out at 03:00 am, in the incredibly floaty pickup truck, to chop down a few random trees just to kill a bit of time, is a regular occurrence. It feels weird, but not quite as weird as the eerie, dead-eyed citizens that wander around the streets, aimlessly at all hours of the day muttering monosyllabic greetings whenever they get bumped into. Very Stepford Wives-esque.

Owners of Sony's supercharged PS4 Pro have a few interesting visual options to play with. First up, there is a 1080p mode featuring an enhanced render option that is definitely the best looking of the bunch, although owners of a 4K TV will no doubt feel compelled to use either the Quad HD (3K/1440p) or Ultra HD (4K/2160p) setting, both of which also look excellent but suffer from draw distance pop-in, which is more noticeable when working on larger fields. It's nice that the developer has allowed the end user a choice in the matter, and the good thing about all three display options is that they all manage to maintain a rocksteady 60fps throughout. To add to Farming Simulator 17's longevity, there is also the facility to download a growing selection of user created mods meaning that, in theory, there will be constant stream of free content incoming, and there are already a bunch of user created farms to download . There is also an online multiplayer option that amazingly allows up to 16 people to farm together (yes, 16 people), which is perfect for those too stingy to pay for their labour.

Screenshot for Farming Simulator 17 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

As an expansive compendium of tractor porn, Farming Simulator 17 is unparalleled, and has enough content to keep even the most ardent machinery fetishist titillated until their corn buds are ready to sprout. However, those hankering for a grittier agricultural experience encompassing the many problems faced by the modern day farmer will likely balk at Giants Software's relatively sterile approach. Granted it won't be everybody's cup of slurry, but it's hard to deny the satisfaction gained in taking a crop from the planting stage all the way to harvest, a feat that can only be further enhanced with a few strategically placed mounds of manure in your gaming space.

Developer

Giants Software

Publisher

Focus Home Interactive

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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