Simulation games have always been my guilty pleasure, from Train Simulator on the PC to Real Farm on the PS4. They aren’t your typical ‘hardcore’ game, they are there in order to wind down and relax whilst jumping in for a few hours to complete a couple of scenarios or tasks. Simulators have also come a long way, becoming much more detailed and immersive as the fanbase grew – I recall when they were very simplistic and barely a ‘game’. Train simulator was the first game I played that raised the bar, along with Euro Truck simulator and in my opinion, Real Farm as well. The question is, does Pure Farming 2018 make a mark among the other high-quality farming simulators out there today?
The main difference here is that Pure Farming 2018 isn’t coming to you from an unknown publisher, it’s a newish developer made up of people from various development studios called Ice Flames, and has been published by Techland. That’s right, Dead Island and Dying Light’s Techland. So, with that in mind, there is a lot to expect as the game has jumped from being an indie title to more of a AA-style game. In my review, I will compare it to Real Farm from Soedesco, as that’s the other farming game I’ve played the most of this generation. So, come with me as I don my overalls and wellies and head down to the farm to tend to some crops…
Farming sims usually have a basic story that mixes the tutorial in with a goal or objective which you are working towards whilst you are getting used to the controls – in Real Farm, this goal is to raise $350,000 in order to buy the farm from the current owner who wishes to retire. So in order to raise the money, you must either rent or buy your own equipment whilst doing tasks for many other people – it’s monotonous but the reward is satisfying as along the way you have learnt exactly how to run your farm. Switch to Pure Farming 2018 and we have a similar story. You must save your Grandfathers farm and follow in his footsteps as you complete various tasks and missions to earn enough experience and money to buy bigger, better equipment and in turn, a bigger profit.
Unlike Real Farm, this ‘story mode’ doesn’t appear to have an end goal – it’s listed as being intended for ‘novice players’ as it has you learning how to use all of the machinery as you raise more money in order to take on bigger challenges and make even more money – rinse and repeat. There are other modes, which I’ll cover later, but this is the main ‘story’ of the game and the place where you will undoubtedly spend the first 10-15 hours or so as you learn how to operate each machine to it’s fullest. Even though it hasn’t got a defined set goal, there are things it does right and some things it does wrong, which I’ll touch on below – but overall, if you’re looking for a story then Pure Farming 2018 may not be as good as Real Farm, but don’t worry, there are other places where this game shines.
The first thing to look at, as usual, are the controls. We have an invert Y-Axis option in a simulator game! You have no idea how happy this makes me… Soedesco has advised one is coming to Real Farm, but at the moment that game is locked to up=up and down=down – which isn’t my prefered playstyle. Everything else is straightforward in terms of controls, each vehicle has its own options set which are clearly marked on the screen as you hop into the different machines and I would say the controls are pretty solid for a simulation game – no issues here with this (great job!).
Farming has come a long way from being classed as very rural and non-technological – as such, in Pure Farming 2018 you own a tablet which is where you do all of your main operations from looking at the map, reading emails, looking up help, and even looking at how well your farm is doing – isn’t modern technology great! As you jump into a new vehicle or get given a new type of quest, you will receive an email that explains what is/how to do the task at hand. This is both good and bad – it’s good that the game has a multitude of hints and tips in order to get you accustomed to its mechanics, but it’s also bad that you are taken out of the game in order to read an email, remember what it said then proceed to do said thing. Don’t get me wrong, you can just open it at any time and there is sometimes ‘some’ indications on the main screen, but a bit more visual guidance and help would have gone a long way. In games like this, hand-holding at the beginning is very important.
Another thing to be aware of, if you haven’t played a farming simulator before, this isn’t a quick based game – some tasks can take you upwards of 20-30 minutes just to plough or seed one field. So, don’t jump into the game off the back of your favourite YouTuber and think it’s going to be as quick and painless as it is for them – they have a lot of editing and cut out a lot of the actual farming aspects. That being said, the map is huge – like probably takes around 15-20 minutes to drive from one side of the map to the other (and I’ve not unlocked the full map yet). There is a load of things to do, which leads me to my next positive/negative…
If your new to Pure Farming 2018, or simulations in general, just taking a look at the tablet will leave you feeling very overwhelmed. From all of the statistics on each aspect of your farm, such as fields, greenhouses, animals and workers; all the way to being able to hire staff, visit numerous shops, apply for a loan, check your vehicles, and change your current tasks. There is a lot of things on one simple tablet! Now, if you start the story mode and follow what it tells you to do, it can be a bit boring and it will seem like you’re not getting anywhere, but it will guide you through every single aspect – Basically what I’m saying is – don’t jump into the more advanced free-for-all game modes until you have played the story for a decent amount of time!
So, once you’ve learnt the basics and you’re ready to face a new challenge, what is there to do – other than playing the story mode for many, many hours with no goal? Well, Ice Flames has you covered with a few other modes selectable from the main menu: Farming Challenges and Free Farming.
These are great and perfect for you to jump into once you have learnt the basics around how to successfully complete most of the farming mechanics. You have four environments; Montana, Colombia, Italy, and Japan – and from each of these you have four to six missions that unlock progressively as you complete them one by one. For example, the first Japanese challenge has a requirement to “Plough 60% of each of the three fields of rice”. If you can plough 95% of each then you receive an added bonus as well. You have a strict time limit of 14 in-game hours and chose which tractor and equipment you must use. Now, “that challenge sounds easy” I hear you cry, let’s take a look at the last Japanese challenge…
Requirements are to “Sell 88,185 lbs of cherries and bring all of the machines to the Logistics Centre” with an optional bonus of “Selling 176,370 lbs of cherries as well as returning all of the machines”. Once again, you have all of the vehicles assigned – which in this case is six of them (all of which must be returned) and a time limit of only ten hours! Now, as someone who has done some cherry-picking in-game, that’s not going to be an easy task, especially in that time-frame!
I like the addition of these challenges, they also got me to jump back into the other modes in order to have more practice and then return to these in order to try and achieve them easier. I don’t recall seeing any modes like this in Real Farm, so as such, Pure Farming 2018 wins this by default, although Real Farm would have had to have something pretty good in order to beat this anyway.
This is basically what you would expect, you are given the choice to do whatever you want – this is the mode most experienced people will jump right in to and lose day, weeks or months of their life farming away. You can choose any of the four locations above (and any DLC places you have – I have Germany), how much money you start with (from 25k to 200k), whether the weather is sunny, cloudy or raining, and if it’s morning, noon, evening or night. Once the parameters are set, off you go on your own farming adventure! Like I said though, I don’t recommend this mode until you have been through a large part of the ‘story mode’ as you are literally placed on a blank slate with no guidance on what to do. I would say both Pure Farming 2018 and Real Farm are on par here – they both offer sandbox modes that allow you to do whatever you want with no restrictions or limitations.
One thing which has been omitted from both Real Farm and Pure Farming 2018 is multiplayer. Both of the games have great farming mechanics surrounding single-player and hiring other CPU characters to perform certain duties for you, but neither of them offers a local or online multiplayer – for that, I would have to say that Farming Simulator 2017 (as 2018 isn’t out yet) is the way to go if you wish to play a farming game with your friends online. It’s a shame as I love these simulation games, but they always become more fun when you have your buddies there with you (when they aren’t trying to run over your cows and jump on your chickens!).
The performance of the game can be hit or miss. I’m not sure about the actual technical aspect of the game, but I’m running FW 5.50 with Supersampling turned on via a PS4 Pro, and the game doesn’t like the rain! If you are in the rain then driving around feels a bit sluggish and jerky at times, and I have noticed some framerate drops upon regular play during the sunny daytime as well. It doesn’t impact you much as it isn’t a reflex reliant action game, but it does take you out of the moment when it happens. If it’s down to the game pushing for a native 2160p at 30 fps (something which Real Farm does comfortably by reducing certain effects like shadows), then maybe the developers could push for a 1080p mode that’s unlocked or at 60fps and a 1440p mode that’s also either unlocked or capped at 30fp, as well as the 2160p at 30fps mode? I know it’s a lot to ask, but stability should come above resolution if I’m being honest.
Another thing that could be affecting the performance are the physics – the developers have done a few videos explaining how they made the game and it appears they had to re-do all the physics as real-life wasn’t quite right and obviously implementing no physics would lead to a poor experience. In this game, everything collides, if you have the arm of your harvester out and it hits a wall, physics will kick in and you will collide and not ghost through it. It’s really impressive and the physics in play are really good – plus I haven’t shot off into space yet (a common bug with Simulation games that even Real Farm suffered from):
— Rob Pitt (@RealTurniplord) January 28, 2018
^^ Real Farm^^
In terms of the visuals, they aren’t too bad for a simulator. If you haven’t played a simulation game before then I’ll explain what I mean. Due to the size of simulation games, they usually come packed with lower than usual resolution textures, clip-able foliage, rugged edges, poor overall quality, and a basic design. Now, Both Real Farm and Pure Farming 2018 have done a great job here as they both contain some form of licensing by having real machines within the games with official branding and names, they also both look great with HD textures and solid trees/bushes. Pure Farming 2018 allows you to turn on clip-able foliage if you wish, which can help you out if you wish to take shortcuts, or you get stuck; and it even has dynamic shadows – so, as you start the day and the sun begins to move overhead, you can sit and watch as the shadow gradually changes the direction is it being cast in accordance with where the sun is. This is a neat touch. Real Farm suffers (at the moment) with a lot of shadow pop-in, which is most likely to keep the performance up – so I would class this as a draw. Pure Farming 2018 is the better-looking game but Real Farm has the right amount of sacrifices to keep up the performance side.
Soundwise, there isn’t much to say. There is your occasional ‘farming’ style music, which is mainly country style, along with a lot of ambient sounds from the birds as well as the sounds of the machines and various vehicles which drive by. The vehicles sound realistic and I can’t fault them on that side – this is a game about relaxing and taking your time, so I think it’s a good idea that it isn’t shoving repetitive music down your ears.
Another thing to consider is the following – this is a brief roadmap of what the developers have said is coming to the game over the next few months:
• General game improvements based on players’ feedback
• Regularly selected PC mods added as free DLC for consoles
• New DLCs including brand new machines and other content
• Support for steering wheels and peripherals, and more
This is a tricky one, Pure Farming 2018 has its moments with the Farming challenges and the vast amounts of statistics, information, and analytics on offer. However, I can only see the hard-core farming simulation enthusiasts being excited over such features as the casual among us may find it too overwhelming. The lack of multiplayer also furthers the point that you’re in this on your own, with only your in-game emails for help and guidance. On top of various performance issues and no clear objective other than a glorified tutorial, it’s hard to recommend this game over games such as Real Farm and Farming Simulator 2017.
That being said, I did have fun playing this game but it just doesn’t cut it above the competitors out there at the moment – fix the performance issues, add a multiplayer, build on the single-player outside of random tasks, and maybe offer us various resolution/framerate modes; and I believe this could have been the best farming game available as it has a lot of potential.
Pure Farming 2018£24.99
- - Nice looking textures and environments
- - Many vehicles and tools - most of which are official
- - The Farming Challenges are tough and fun to play
- - The physics in place are really good
- - You can tell the team put a lot of care and effort into the small details
- - Even on the PS4 Pro, there are performance issues
- - The story mode is basically a tutorial with no end-goal
- - No multiplayer
- - The vast amounts of statistics and information, whilst being great, can get very overwhelming