It’s difficult to understand the overwhelming popularity of the Farming Simulator franchise, given the fact that it’s essentially a job simulator in which you perform repetitive tasks and virtual backbreaking labour to keep a farm afloat. While it is possible to hoon around on tractors, trucks, threshers and what have you, there’s a cost to not doing things in an orderly way. If this sounds kind of dull, that’s because it is. It’s also bizarrely satisfying.
For those unfamiliar with how Farming Simulator games work, FS 17 features a set of basic tutorials to get city folk up to speed with the fundamentals of farming: ploughing, seeding, harvesting and the like, as well as the basics of animal care, husbandry, and the machinery required for different tasks. The newest game in the series has also added a pause help section, enabling new players to stop what they’re doing and read up on the intricacies of the current task. It’s an invaluable tool to new players and should be handy for old hands as well.
Successfully maintaining a farm is a process somewhat similar to creating a massive Rube Goldberg machine in which the player is a moving part. Each aspect of your farm should have a knock on effect on another. In the beginning it’s a matter of making sure your fields are ploughed, seeded, and optimally fertilised to maximise profits. This might involve having a diverse crop so as to offset the volatility of the market, or it could be focussing on a single high yield crop that offsets the relatively lower market price with bulk.
With the money made from these first ventures, farmers can then upgrade their existing machinery or buy new equipment in order to make the process more efficient so more time can be spent performing “missions” for other farmers to make some much-needed extra scratch.
Once basic crop rotation has been mastered, players can look to diversify their farms by adding livestock or perhaps turning their hand to forestry. Chickens, sheep, cows, and pigs are all available to the player, each requiring specific machinery, feed, or tools to properly farm. Chickens are the easiest. Cows, on the other hand, are an expensive and difficult proposition but have the most potential payoff. Not only can cows be sold for beef, with a stable heard the milk can become a regular and reliable source of income for the farm, and the manure can be used as fertiliser for crops, saving the farm even more money.
While not necessarily fun in the traditional sense, Farming Simulator 17 is very satisfying to play. Whether it’s ploughing a perfect field, reaping your first mega harvest, or setting up systems to ensure the continued profitability of your farm. Having the money to upgrade equipment and seeing real mechanical differences in your choices also makes progress feel concrete, and with around 250 different vehicles and pieces of equipment there is a lot to experiment with and perfect. Just be prepared for a lot of repetition.