Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Giants Software
Publishers: Focus Interactive
Typically when a gamer thinks of a “sim” game, they think about games like The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Stardew Valley, they are games that take general topics and mix in a little fantasy to make them more enjoyable or “fun.” However, that also breaks the immersive, taking a game from a full simulation into more of a relaxed half measure. Farming Simulator is a game that harkens back to the days of Microsoft’s own Flight Simulator, a “game” that has no real objective or ending but simply provides the most realistic representation of what it is like to sit in the cockpit of a 747 or an F16.
In Farming Simulator: Nintendo Switch Edition, players swap fighter and commercial jets for harvesters, tractors, and animals and take possession of their own farm. Prior to the game starting players are given the choice of starting their farm in Europe or America, they can also choose a male or female character. Once the game starts, you’ll be dropped off at your farm and be instructed to enter a harvester, which you have to power up, open flaps and connect the blades to harvest wheat. The instructions are detailed, to say the least, there is one combination for getting into the vehicle, then you have to press a shoulder button and another button to open the flaps and another button to connect the blades, while still holding that shoulder button. In fact, doing simple tasks within a machine often felt like trying to remember finishing moves in Mortal Kombat, without the pressure of only having 3 seconds. Once I completed one task, I was then able to hand this off to a “worker” who was under my employ (which is another aspect of owning a farm, the help) which freed me up to try other things. Each task I was presented with gave me a brief overview of what I was supposed to do and how to accomplish it until it didn’t. While there are a series of tutorials that players can complete, in order to learn the game’s mechanics, the game at one point, very early in, just opens up with no direction as to where to go or what to do next. That’s both a blessing and a curse. While I applaud the game’s open approach, it’s also a very complex game which features an amazing attention to detail, which can work against players with no knowledge of farming.
Farming Simulator: Nintendo Switch Edition is a difficult game to review for the simple fact that it’s so specific and its audience is so niche. This game may not be for you at all or it may be perfect for you. This game is made for those who love farming or have had some farming experience or knowledge of farming. Simply put, there’s really no grey area here. Even with tutorials, if you don’t know how a farm is run, like how to start your day, what machines do what, how to balance your animals to crops ratio and ultimately, how to make money, then you’re going to be completely lost in this game. That happened to me, once the game stopped holding my hand, I literally had no clue where to go or what to do next. I found myself Googling what I should do in order to continue, but even that failed to help because everyone was doing their own thing, nobody played the game the same way.
Let me be clear, while this may sound like I’m down on the game, that’s completely the opposite. This game is amazing in what it does, which is creating a realistic approach to farming. It’s obvious, this game is not for everyone, those players who play Call of Duty, The Legend of Zelda, Horizon Zero Dawn, HellBlade, Dark Souls, this is not for you… and that’s okay. That being said, I’m also unsure that this game is for those who actually farm. I can’t imagine that after 8-12 hours of running a farm all day, the way a farmer would want to relax would be to kick their feet up on the ol’ coffee table and start-up Farming Simulator. Perhaps the game’s target audience is kids who are off to college, that miss being back on the old farm and this is their way of honing their skills until they return or maybe it’s a great training tool for future generations of farmers. Parents can give their children this game and it’ll prepare them for life as they get older.
In any event, the “game’s” attention to detail is astounding, from over 250 authentic farming vehicles and equipment from over 75 manufacturers, including new brands such as Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson or Valtra, to the overall daily activities of shopping for supplies, selling livestock (cows, sheep, chickens and now pigs), and of course farming, which includes sunflowers and soybeans in the Switch version.
Let’s over some of the positives and negatives.
- Real life equipment Brands
- Highly Detailed tractors, machines, and vehicles
- Accurate representation of farming life
- Endless gameplay
- Portability with the Switch
- Overly complicated to the majority of gamers
- Text and menus in handheld mode are extremely small and difficult to read
- Lack of instructions once you hit an early point in the game
- Sluggish gameplay
- Pop up graphics
- Character Creator is limited to just male and female with swappable shirt colors
While my farm will ultimately fail, simply because I’m not good at farming, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Farming Simulator: Nintendo Switch Edition. I found the game to be a relaxing, if not educational, experience and I know there is an audience out there for these games that love every second of them. Why else would they still be near full price a year later? Giants Software clearly pours a lot of time and effort into their Farming games, getting everything right, from sound effects to mechanics and while I may not excel in the game the same way I do in Call of Duty, I can still appreciate all the hard work that went into making Farming Simulator 2017.
Farming Simulator for Nintendo Switch
- Realistic Gameplay
- Deep Systems and menus
- Tons of brand names and materials
- No Smell of a real barn
- Could be overly complicated for non-Farmers
- So much to do, one could be overwhelmed