A Fresh Start – Farming Simulator 19 (PC Review)

The mechanical giants are back, rolling across rugged terrain pulling heavyweight equipment. Day in, day out these beasts of burden toil and go on pushing their limits, the driver up before first light and rarely makes it back before dark. There’s a lot of work to do down on the farm, fields to sow, animals to feed, harvest to bring in before it’s no good for man nor beast. These are the people that make it so you can go into your local market or shop and buy food to put on the table, it’s not glamorous but it is more than essential.

Farming Simulator 19 takes us to a new farm where the basics are not included this time (unless you play the easy level tutorial) and you start with no machines, no land, and no home. Instead, you have a good chunk of cash to buy your first essentials, a plot of land and some kit to work it. Many fail at this life, try to go too big too fast but you need to make the foundation of your farm before you build on top of it, too little money left in the bank can spell disaster should you not harvest a field in time and lose your crop. Then, you’ll need to replant and restart the process, of course, but this is all after you take the cultivator of shame to your dead harvest resetting the soil to be sown again.

Not everything is this way, one one good note, you have some new toys to play with from new brands like Komatsu and John Deere, not to mention classic brands like Stihl, Case, New Holland, Massey Ferguson and many more returning for another round of labouring toil.

Choose how you want your farm to run, is it a standard farm growing the usual wheat, corn etc. or are you growing seed for oils like sunflower or canola? Do you want to become a huge logging company making and cutting your own forests across the map, or are you more on the side of raising animals? The choice is yours and whatever you do you’ll find yourself thinking of crossing over to add an extra income or to reduce your outgoings, for instance. If you run a farm with a herd of cattle, you start by buying in silage, hay, straw etc. But if you buy some mowing gear and either a forager or bailing equipment you can make the food to give to the cattle yourself so investing in the future of your herd and making room for expansion later in the game.

Don’t forget to look after the machines that make you your living, remember to clean them and maintain them. As they degrade over time and this can cause big problems should you not look after them. Get yourself a workshop and a pressure washer, and make a routine of sorting out the vehicles while you wait for a crop to grow or when you have some spare time. Even if you can only do one every (in-game) day, it’s really worth it, even if the goal is not to keep that machine as the price is effected when it comes to resale value as well.

This time around the game also offers a few new ways to make money from cotton farming, using specialist machinery to plant, harvest and even transport your cotton. To owning horses that you raise, ride and train, the higher the level of training the higher the price of the horse when selling.

In this game, very little happens fast, but that’s how it works. This is a simulation of running a farm and is well thought out as such. As you make your living, the game has had some of the “shortcut” money makers removed like the solar panels and the wind turbine. I’m sure with the following these features have, both will either be added back or someone will bod them into the games, alongside the usual fancy cars and over-the-top hulking machines that don’t fit on the roads. Also, the train is back and you can still be the one to drive it, moving stock from one silo station to another or selling at places like the port.

Online play offers you the chance to join up with friends on their farm or run another farm on the same map offering to work together or in direct competition, or maybe just because one farm deals with livestock the other can deal with crop etc.

As far as my personal experience and as a person who has played every version since Farming Simulator 15, including the app and handheld console versions of the game, I found the new game very enjoyable. Sure there are a few snags at the moment but I know from experience the developers are always quick to fix them. The game is a great addition to the series with expanded gameplay options and an ever-growing game to keep yourself immersed for hours at a time. Graphics are as good as ever. The, now-expected, dirt build up on the machines work great as do the weather mechanics. I can’t wait to see more and on that note, it’s time to farm.