• Pure Farming 2018 review by Rick Moscatello

    When a game is about chores

    Steam Patches and what the server does with them-farmsplash-png

    Simulation games, at least successful ones, are all about picking the best parts of a topic/profession/activity, and de-emphasizing the worst parts. For example, 99% of a pirate’s life was being on a boat, doing chores. Yes, there was exciting combat that may last a whole hour, but it’d take a month of sailing to get to that point. Thus, Sid Meier’s Pirates focuses on the combat and looting parts of piracy. You spend plenty of game time sailing around to be sure, but there’s a “accelerate time” button so that a three week journey can be handled in seconds. This type of “focus on the fun” is key to good simulation design.

    Pure Farming 2018 is a farming simulation that often seems to forget that it needs to be a game as well as a simulation, falling far short in the former while often doing a good job of the latter. So let’s take a closer look.

    There are three game types, an open farm (where you do what you want), a quest farm (where you solve various puzzles) and a (thin) story farm which also serves as tutorial for how to play (although you still have some freedom here as well).

    The game world is essentially the farm, an interconnected system of roads, fields, and supply stations. It’s all yours, which takes a bit of getting used to. When your tractor gets low on gas, you’ve got a gas station on your own farm, just chug on over and fill ‘er up. Similarly, there are stations to get water, seeds, pesticide, or any other general supplies you might need, although doing so will generally cost money (water is free, and that’s about it). Your vehicles wear down as well…you have a workshop on site, so you can just drive over there from time to time to make usually costly repairs.

    At the edge of your farm is a machine store. The selection is pretty limited, with a “speed bump” system where you need both money and levels to get the better machines, such as they are. For a game that’s mostly about the machines, I would have liked to have seen more options (no John Deere?), but at least you can teleport from one machine to another quickly.

    The tutorial is a bit obnoxious. You get e-mails on your tablet, telling you what to do and how to do it. So you read the e-mail, and hit escape-escape-escape to close out the tablet and get ‘er done. Many tasks will require several e-mails to complete, and you’ll often access that “in game tablet” to read the map and figure out where things are, or to set a route…then mash that escape key to get back to the game. I guess they were trying to be clever here, but something about “we heard you like computer games, so we’re putting a computer to run the game in the game you’re running on your computer” just rubs me wrong. Anyway, the extra layer of interface sure does have me hitting that escape key often.

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    Things start out easy enough, you hop in the harvester, connect the harvesting device, than roll over the field at a 5-ish mph to collect the grain. Then you connect your tractor to the bin, drive the tractor over to the filled harvester, empty the harvest into the bin, then off to the silo, or more likely off to the purchaser (putt-putt-putting along again at 5ish mph, with a surprising amount of traffic on your farm). And that’s generally how the simulation rolls, making you go from machine to machine doing all the little chores necessary to make money as a farmer.

    But, alas, you got a break the first time around, as the grain was ready to harvest. You want to do that from the ground up? Well, first you have to till the field (at 3 mph), driving over every square inch in a huge machine with a crummy turning radius so there’s much wasted effort trying to line it up. Wow, this sure is tedious.

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    But you’re not done. Next you have to put the seeds on the ground. So you go set up a new combination of machines, chug over to buy some seeds, come back, and then slowly, slowly, drive over the same field you plowed.

    Then you have to do it all over again, putting water on the seeds on every square inch of the field.

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    I really should mention that Techland, the same company who made the amazing Dying Light, is behind this game. Thus, I kept expecting zombies or something to show up at some point, to break the monotony a bit. No dice.

    There IS an “accelerate time” button, but, no, it doesn’t work like one would hope. You can speed up time a huge amount, but you’ll still being doing everything at 3 mph or whatever. Just now, you can see 3 day/night cycles as you trudge across one row in the field. I’m a little puzzled why anyone would want to accelerate time in a way which does nothing for the player but…there it is. At least you can turn on lights all around the machine (makes it easier at night), and set the auto-drive so your finger doesn’t go numb as you putt, putt, putt, along.

    Mixing things up a little is you have the option to go to farms in other countries, growing grapes or olives or coffee in different environments; the farms in the other countries are much smaller, however, and it’s clear the main farm in Montana is the selling point here.

    You can harvest several crops in this environment (although, very strangely, corn isn’t an option), as well as farm animals, or even set up solar power. You can hire workers to theoretically help with the chores (if I never have to plow a field again, that’s super-fine by me), but they’re not very good.

    To their credit, the developers are responding to player “issues” about the game, and have already improved the hired workers to a level of minimal competence, and plan to fix or enhance some of the other weaker aspects of the game. I certainly hope they can do so, and quickly, because there is a core game here worth playing, there just needs to be more of a fun factor.

    As it is, this is “a great game to play while you’re doing something else,” which is fine when you’re binging on a show you don’t want to watch but your girlfriend does…but players looking for something intense, or even involving, should probably wait until a few kinks are worked out in this genre.

    Overall Rating: 68
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Pure Farming 2018 review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post