People wonder what it’s like to be a farmer. Being a city born child I was roped into a government programs taking city kids to farms to experience that way of life. Fair to say I did not enjoy it; cleaning the cow pen, getting up a 6am and getting kicked by a donkey; it wasn’t a way of life I wanted.
For those who want that experience of the farmer life without the smells, early starts or risk of animal attacks you can try your hand with Professional Farmer 2017. Is this an improvement on its predecessors? In some ways. The game strikes high in some areas and low in others and it’ll change person-to-person whether the highs outweigh the lows.
I feel like explaining what to do in a farming simulator is somewhat pointless. You start with a cool quarter million and have to build your farm from nothing. This is done with two main income routes: animal husbandry and crop growth. Animal husbandry covers the typical three of cows, chickens and pigs and you have to maintain their pens as well as feed them and collect products such as eggs from them. Crop growth covers corn, wheat and barley and requires a little more work as fields need prepping, planting and harvesting. These two areas interrelate, with some of your crop growth going towards feeding your animals. You can buy and sell animals and crops in the local town as well on a fluctuating economy, giving a tactical element to the game.
The game is quite good at easing you into this routine. Tutorials are dotted around the whole world to make sure you can keep up with the various aspects of farming. A much larger number of these actions are animated as well and you get a good sense of the ins and outs of the game quickly.
There have been a number of upgrades in this iteration of the game which makes the experience overall much better. Graphically the game looks a lot better, with a variety of graphical options available. Controller support is also flawless and combined with prompts in the corner of the screen the game overall feels a lot smoother to play.
Yet lot of design choices seem to niggle at the game. The game splits the world into 4 areas, putting crop fields away from the hub and making them a pain to reach and stuck behind a loading screen. This seems to be due to the world design. While not populated with people it seems to be populated with useless areas such as abandoned factories and graveyards which could have been sacrificed to makes the farm a single area. The controls also feel a little unresponsive, with mouse/right analogue stick movement acceleration being on and unchangeable.
You have to balance these niggles with the improvements of the game. Personally I can stand these niggles. Most of them seem to just add time to any action in-game. Driving between the farm and fields seems would be more forgivable if the game also didn’t have a petrol mechanic but this seems to penalise you for how they’ve built the game.
Professional Farmer 2017 is a slight improvement. It’s only slight though. If you can outweigh the bad with the good you’ll have a good time. This is a middle-ground game moved only by your subjective judgement and for that it earns a solid 5.