Simulator games are something I never really enjoyed, much in the same was I have trouble with many RTS games: The technical depth which can be achieved is troublesome for newcomers like me. However, this is the selling point for most simulators; allowing people to experience a near digital replica of the activity being done, as long as the game is done right.
Farming Simulator 17 is a simulator which does what it aims to right: Simulate the experience of running a farm. It does so with the depth you would expect from a simulator and as such I feel continues to be the marker by which other simulators should be benched against. As you may have guessed from that sentence, this is a very good game.
So for what few of you have never heard of this series of games Farming Simulator 17 gives you a farm and expects you to manage it in a sandbox world. You don’t get your hands held in these games and are very much left on your own, although Farming Simulator 17 does come with a good tutorial for newcomers. Your farm can be very diverse in its income and you can not only farm crops but also purchase livestock such as chickens. This large diversity in income not only allows you to make the big bucks but also offers a wide variety of gameplay, having to keep up with multiple different mechanics at once.
But a rehash would be nothing to brag about. The game brings in several new features. You are first allowed to choose the gender of your farmer and their shirt colour, which for some will be an improvement but for others like me a rather meagre addition to the whole experience. With this choice of gender you also gain the choice of two regions: The sunny American Gold Coast Valley or the Eastern European town of Sosnovka. Each is essentially the same and more of an aesthetic change but it is nice the option is available.
The vehicle selection has increased plenty as well. You can buy 60 different licensed vehicles as well as numerous attachments for them. You are also now given the option of leasing vehicles and equipment rather than outright buying, which is nice to test out equipment or grab something that you will need quickly but not permanently.
You have pretty much everything you need for maintaining your farm. You have plenty of crop and livestock options; you have two different farms to choose from and you have a huge number of vehicles to buy or borrow. Everything you need to run your farm.
Thankfully the experience runs very smoothly as well. The game runs in a single open world and the experience is well optimised, with plenty of control prompts to keep you informed of what you can do. There are also a large number of options for various variables around your farm. You have options controlling things from time to how long fertiliser stays good quality. So the experience can also be very well tailored to any difficulty level.
There are a few hitches here and there. For a start, pausing the game instantly stops you vehicle for reasons beyond me. Though to be fair this is the largest hitch in the game. You will find some hilarity in the complete lack of a collision engine in the game, and barrelling into other vehicles or buildings does not cause damage a vehicle. Let hilarity ensue.
Overall Farming Simulator 17 is exactly what you would expect form the next step in the series: More places to farm, more vehicles to choose and more crops to farm; all in a nicely optimised and good looking package. The package also comes with co-op play, so you and your friends can farm as long as you find it fun; and with a game like this you’ll find it fun for a long while. Farming Simulator 17 earns a well-deserved 9, keeping up the quality of previous games in the series.