Farming Simulator 19 takes players to a rustic, country backside and gives them the opportunity to be whatever type of farmer they wish. Published by Focus Home Interactive, Farming Simulator 19 lets players take care of crops, raise livestock, or try their hands at forestry, but this freedom of choice is a double-edged sword. It is both the game’s greatest and worst feature, because it makes the big and beautiful world feel as if there was little to do and too much to do at the same time.
Building upon the formula established in previous simulator games, Farming Simulator 19 can be described – in contrast with previous installments – as MORE. Indeed, it seems as if Farming Simulator developer Giants Software took a quantity over quality approach, with this latest installment adding new vehicles including the iconic John Deere brand, new farming activities, new machinery, new crops, new animals, and more.
That’s not to say, however, that there is no quality to the game. In fact, every little detail matters in this game and is incredibly thorough. For example, purchased attachments often require a series of command inputs to operate adding to the realism of the game, which the game is entirely reliant upon.
The realism of Farming Simulator 19 – both mechanically as described and graphically – adds to everything the game embodies from the realistic operations to the aesthetic farm scenery. Because of the amount of detail in the graphics and the game mechanics, this can be described as an incredibly hardcore simulator, which comes with a high level of freedom of choice.
This freedom of choice allows players to pursue whatever type of gameplay they desire. Players can begin livestock farms focusing on an assortment of chickens, sheep, pigs, cows, or horses. Players can go into forestry, begin with just a chainsaw, and build a logging empire. Players could focus on raising crops and selling them, essentially becoming a farming mogul. These realistic choices can also be seen as a breath of fresh air for those more accustomed to borderline-ridiculous simulation scenarios.
The choice doesn’t end there, however. For players can do any or all of the above, but they can also break up the monotony by taking a slow cruise through the countryside, completing basic fetch quests or giving a helping hand to their neighbors’ fields. Though we use the latter term loosely because the big, beautiful world of Farming Simulator 19 feels destitute and empty.
Yes, there is a menu of quests for neighbors, but it’s incredibly shallow. Yes, players can hire helpers, but they are just simply identified as Helper A, Helper B, etc. In this country backside, freedom becomes a double-edged sword, as there is little in the way of direction or instruction because the player is essentially all there is.
Following a short tutorial that isn’t very beneficial to newcomers, players are invited into the wide world of farming. There’s no objective other than to farm and amass money, which creates a sense of monotony in the matter. This resonates throughout the entire game, as newcomers will soon realize how complex even the simplest task is.
For example, feeding cows requires the player to collect a certain type of feed. To get the part to make the feed, players will need a tractor that needs a specific attachment. That attachment, in turn, needs another attachment. Then, once players have the part, it’s easy to not realize that it also has a secondary attachment necessary to gather feed, leaving players in a stupor as to what to do next.
Of course, players could grow the feed, but that’s another set of steps altogether. This is a section where the gameplay itself becomes a double-edged sword. On one hand, the incredible detail can create a fantastic experience, but on the other hand, it can also be incredibly frustrating for those who don’t know exactly what they need – and the game isn’t going to tell.
Simple instruction in these scenarios would have gone a long way, even if it was just a menu describing at length how certain parts work in correlation with others. Yes, there is a guided menu of certain aspects, but nothing detailed enough to walk newcomers through the arduous agrarian practices ever-present throughout the simulator.
For skilled players that have played previous installments, this lack of instruction may not be so detrimental, but this is not an entry point that newcomers would want to pick up. The learning curve requires hours of rinse-and-repeat trial-and-error gameplay to eventually become operable at it.
Combine these hardships with some glitches and it creates a frustrating scenario. Now, none of the glitches we endured were game-breaking, with most even being borderline hilarious. Visual glitches such as a chainsaw disappearing against other items or glitching into the engine of a tractor gave us a good giggle, but there was a glitch with a helper NPC getting blocked by a vehicle that required us to stop the task we were doing, move the vehicle, and hire a new helper to correct the glitch.
Despite these hardships, Farming Simulator 19 is still a rewarding game, perhaps more so because of these hardships. While it would have benefitted greatly from the inclusion of more instruction, this flaw creates a sense of pride when problem-solving something as simple as watering animals or figuring out how to work a particular tractor attachment.
Given land and money, this game tests the players fortitude in how bad they want to create something from nothing. For some, every rewarding moment will be worth the frustrations, but for others, every frustration makes the reward lackluster. Ultimately, it seems that Farming Simulator 19 is realistic to a fault, with a player’s determination tested throughout the game.
Farming Simulator 19 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.