Sunday, March 18, 2018

Pure Farming 2018 Review (XONE)

The good news about Pure Farming 2018 is that it is one of the first farming sims on consoles to even come close to challenging the Farming Simulator franchise’s dominance. It has tons of unique features, some much appreciated quality-of-life options, and generally just feels more solid overall than every other farming game that has come along tying to take down the champ. The bad news is that it still has quite a ways to go in terms of equipment count, accessibility options, and overall polish. Pure Farming 2018 is still remarkably good, though, just not quite ready to take the top spot. See all of the details in our full Pure Farming 2018 review for Xbox One.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Techland
  • Developer: Ice Flames
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Pros: Variety of crops / activities; solid gameplay; the drone; modes
  • Cons: Relatively small equipment count; lacks casual options; pretty janky all around; performance
  • MSRP: $40
Buy Pure Farming 2018
Part of the reason why I feel Giants Software’s Farming Simulator series sits comfortably on top of the genre is that they have wisely made concessions to break from absolute realism and simulation in favor of fun. You can change growth speed and turn off the need to constantly plow and fertilize and even turn off plant withering, among many other options, all in the name of making the game more fun for more people. It can be as hardcore or as casual of a farming sim as you want it to be, and I love that. I also love how easy they make it to instantly switch equipment, hire A.I. workers, and a ton of other things. They have put a lot of effort into making it as satisfying and fun and accessible for as wide of an audience as possible.

Pure Farming 2018, on the other hand, definitely leans a little more towards the hardcore sim side of the genre, but also has some interesting features and options that make it a lot more playable and fun than other entries like Real Farm or Professional Farming 2017. These options include being able to easily switch equipment via a pop-up menu (still not as fast / easy and just pressing left or right on the d-pad, but a huge improvement over other games) as well as being able to easily hire A.I. workers to do tedious tasks for you with the press of a button (and you actually see them in the fields!). You can even teleport anywhere in the game world, whether there is a vehicle there or not, which is something not even Farming Simulator has.

There are some other accessibility options that Pure Farming 2018 doesn’t have, though. There are no options to adjust growing speed or whether you have to plow / fertilize / etc. your field more often. And you can’t turn off withering. It also introduces the need to actually water and irrigate your fields. In this way, Pure Farming 2018 is much more of a hardcore sim than Farming Simulator, which is great for fans that are actually looking for that, but personally, I like to have options to adjust the difficulty / realism in favor of just having fun. Honestly, farming is freaking tedious and boring, so having options to streamline and simplify things are more desirable for me than going in a more hardcore sim direction. I also acknowledge some fans want a more authentic and realistic experience than I do, though, and in that case Pure Farming 2018 is the superior game on consoles in that regard and hardcore fans will enjoy it. On the other hand, it also makes it harder to recommend to more casual players compared to Farming Simulator 17.

In terms of features, Pure Farming 2018 is the most robust farming game yet with a wide variety of crops as well as other activities to take part in. There are different maps to play on around the world – Montana, Japan, Colombia, Italy – and each has unique crops to grow based on their unique landscapes and climates. You can raise barley, wheat, and rye, potatoes, hemp, and even rice. Different crops require different equipment (farming rice is cool as heck, by the way), so there is a lot of variety. There’s more, though. You can raise orchards with olives, cherries, apples, grapes, and more that, again, all require new and unique equipment you won’t find in other games. There are also greenhouses with tomatoes and eggplants to tend. You can also raise animals like cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits. You can also invest in wind turbines and solar energy as well. There is a ton to do in Pure Farming 2018 and it definitely comes out on top when it comes to sheer variety.

Pure Farming 2018 does some other clever things as well. Via the nifty in-game tablet you can do all sorts of things like instantly selling your crops rather than having to deliver them. You make more money if you deliver them manually, but I like having the option available to just do stuff quickly. I also love the addition of a flyable drone that lets you fly over your farm to instantly get updates on the status of all of your fields. You can even buy new fields and building upgrades via the drone, which is awesome.

While the game does have a huge variety of crops that all require different types of equipment, the overall equipment count does leave a little to be desired. The game does use all licensed real world brands, which is great, but there are only a couple of choices for each equipment type. There are only a handful of tractors and a couple of harvesters, for example. It’s not really enough. More equipment is promised as part of a series of DLC packs, but it is unclear as of now whether those will be premium or free.

Pure Farming 2018 has an interesting selection of modes that set it apart from other games, too. The My First Farm mode serves as a tutorial to teach new players how everything works. Farming Challenges mode lets you play through 20 different specific scenarios like running your farm during a drought. And Free Farming mode is the sandbox mode where you are free to do anything you want. Free Farming mode doesn’t just limit you to one map, either, as you can build a global farming empire with farms all around the world and jump around between them, albeit with some lengthy load times, which is very cool.

All of the features in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if the gameplay itself isn’t solid, of course, so how is Pure Farming 2018? Kind of clunky and janky, unfortunately. Everything you do requires multiple extra button presses compared to Farming Simulator to accomplish the same task. Lining up tools and trailers is really fiddly, too, before the game decides you’re close enough to attach stuff. The A.I. workers you can hire are also a lot slower and less intelligent than you’d hope, so jobs take them longer than it should. I know “clunky” and “janky” are hardly descriptive, but there is a major difference in the smoothness of controls and overall feel when playing Farming Simulator 15 or 17 and then hopping over to Pure Farming 2018. I can’t test this to verify, so don’t take it as gospel, but Pure Farming 2018 also feels like you’re playing in slow motion a lot of the time, too, like it’s running at 20-FPS. I’m on a OG launch Xbox One, so maybe that’s the problem, but it definitely feels like you’re playing the game while stuck in molasses or something.

The presentation overall in Pure Farming 2018 is OK. Each of the different maps around the world have their own unique features and visual styles and look quite distinct from each other. The equipment you can use is all licensed and realistic and looks good as well. The only problem is that the game has a definite blurry “Vasoline smeared on the camera lens” look that is hard to ignore. It seems to render things a little further out than Farming Simulator does, so there isn’t quite as noticeable of a giant circle of detail popping in around you, but the visuals themselves are also not as sharp and detailed to begin with so it doesn’t look as nice overall. The menus are nice and easy to use, though, and the in-game tablet interface is clean and easy to use, which I really appreciate.

All in all, Pure Farming 2018 has a great foundation of features to build upon, but it needs a bit more polish before it can topple the current genre king. As cool as the different modes are, and the drone is, and the wide variety of unique crops that no other game offers definitely are, the core gameplay is still a bit rough and the presentation needs some more love. It is also more of a hardcore farming sim than it’s main competition, and while that isn’t a negative, it does limit the potential audience a bit based on how interested you are in “real” farming. Truly casual fans and genre newbies will likely struggle to get into it, but genre veterans, particularly those who want a more hardcore sim experience, will find a lot to like in Pure Farming 2018. If that sounds like you, definitely check it out.  
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.