Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Farming Simulator 19 Review (XONE)

Farming Simulator 19 is unquestionably the biggest, best, most fully-featured Farming Simulator game yet and franchise fans will absolutely love it. With tons of real equipment to play with, real farming techniques to experience, and the most user-friendly gameplay in the business, it is still the undisputed champ. New features like new crops, new animals, a decent visual upgrade, and the ability to custom build your farm ANYWHERE make Farming Simulator 19 even more fun than before. For longtime fans and newcomers alike, Farming Simulator 19 is worth a look. See all of the details here in our full Farming Simulator 19 review for Xbox One.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
  • Developer: Giants Software
  • ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Pros: Improved graphics; tons of equipment; horses; dogs; deeper sim aspects; tons of options to customize the experience; build your farm anywhere!
  • Cons: Performance issues; poor tutorial / help; overwhelming for newbies
  • Price: $50
Buy Farming Simulator 19
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I want to start by saying that the Farming Simulator franchise are the best sim games on the market because they actually offer options and customization to account for a wide range of player skill and interest levels. You can play them as straight sims if you want, but you can also turn off a lot of the more annoying things and make the game more fun. You can turn off plant withering, speed up growth, speed up time, turn off the need to plow or fertilize, and a whole bunch of other tedious things. Or, of course, you can leave those things alone and make the game play more realistically. It is the options that make Farming Simulator great and approachable and accessible and Farming Simulator 19 has all of them and more.

Farming Simulator 19 brings a lot of new things to the table, too. Fields now need lime added to them periodically, for example (which you can turn off, of course). Plants will also be destroyed when you run over them with equipment (you can turn this off too). New crops include oats and cotton on top of the wheat, canola, sunflowers, corn, sugarcane, and other things introduced over the years to give you even more stuff to do. Horses have been added as well so you can ride your horse around your farm if you want. The equipment roster is bigger than ever and includes machines from John Deere.

The biggest and most important new feature in Farming Simulator 19, however, is that the game allows you to 100% custom build your farm wherever and however you want. Each map is split into dozens of tracts of land to buy, usually with a field or two on them but occasionally not. Once you buy land you are free to do with it whatever you want. You can place a farmhouse and barns and sheds and all sorts of stuff. You can also just plow the ground and make fields wherever you want. My favorite feature is that you can place animal pastures / facilities wherever you want on your property as well, which is a huge upgrade from previous games that only had animals in set specific locations on each map. Now you can place your fields and animals and homestead anywhere you like, which is amazing. Land ownership affects logging, too, in that now you have to own the land before you can cut down trees rather than just leaving a ragged path of destruction in your wake like I used to do in previous games.

The maps themselves - there are two included in the game and a third official one available as a downloadable mod - are the most dense and realistic that the series has offered thus far. They feel like real lived-in communities where actual humans would live rather than just a collection of wide open fields. With that said, the American map included this time is kind of weird in that it has lots of narrow winding roads and steep hills and stuff that I'm not really a fan of. The European map is more straight and open and I prefer it this time around, which is significant because I usually stuck with the American maps in past games for exactly those reasons. 

Missions that you do for other farmers have also been overhauled for the better in Farming Simulator 19. Now you can use your own equipment rather than being forced to use whatever the game provided for you in past games. The biggest improvement is that you can let a hired A.I. worker do the mission for you after you drive the equipment to the field! I love this! The missions don't usually pay very well and can take a long, long time if you have to manually do them, so letting players hire an A.I. worker to do it instead is awesome. There is an achievement / trophy for doing 100 missions and I would definitely go crazy if I had to manually do them all.

The best part is that all of these new features and improvements are built on top of a foundation that was already pretty darn solid. The core gameplay loop in Farming Simulator is just plain satisfying and fun and now you have more freedom to play however you want to. You can farm or raise animals or focus on logging or do everything all at once and it all just works and everything is fun in its own way. If you want a hardcore sim experience, you can have it. If you want a more casual experience, you can have it. Farming Simulator 19 is just incredibly smartly designed. 

Of course, I have to admit that at its core it's still a glacially paced, plodding, tedious, monotonous simulation of one of the most boring things ever - farming - and it won't appeal to everyone, but for those of us that "get" it, it is amazing. It is calming and relaxing and almost meditative in a way. It is also extremely satisfying to turn a pile of dirt into cash, which lets you buy bigger and better and more efficient equipment to make cash even faster so you can buy even more stuff. Once you get over the hump and get into the rhythm of how the game works, Farming Simulator is extremely satisfying and addictive and rewarding. 

One thing I want to add, though, is that because Farming Simulator 19 is so big and fully-featured and deep, it is actually kind of a poor starting spot for newcomers. Even as a series vet I struggled a bit initially to figure out how everything worked and I can only assume that would be intimidating enough for new players to put them off of the game before they really get to the good stuff. The tutorial and in-game help menu don't really do a good enough job of explaining stuff, which is one of the only real flaws with the experience here. I actually would suggest Farming Simulator 17 instead for series newcomers as that game streamlined a lot of the annoying things about the franchise and won't be as overwhelming as FS19 likely will be. If you do want to jump into FS19, just be warned that there is quite a learning curve.

The presentation in Farming Simulator 19 is the best the series has had yet. The graphics have been given an overhaul and the equipment looks better than ever and the new lighting is legitimately great. It gets DARK at night and the lighting is really phenomenal. Plants actually move in the wind and deform around your equipment now, which is subtle but adds greatly to the realism of the experience. The game still has some visual quirks like detail popping into existence in a big circle around you, which doesn't look great, and the performance fluctuates wildly depending on what you're doing. Overall, though, Farming Simulator has definitely never looked this good.   

All in all, Farming Simulator 19 is a bigger, better, more fully-featured game than ever before that easily stands on top of the farm sim genre. It is full of options to make it accessible and approachable for a wide range of players and it gives you more stuff to do than ever before. It's a shame that so many people want to treat these games like dumb throwaway redneck experiences because they are actually really great and fun and I wish more folks would give them a try. Farm sim franchise fans will absolutely love Farming Simulator 19 and I can highly recommend it to you with no caveats. New players looking to see what the fuss is about could definitely start with FS19, though the learning curve might be steep. I do hope you give it a try, though, as these games are a ton of fun once you get into them and Farming Simulator 19 is easily the best one yet.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.