Farming Simulator 2013 Review
A different but enjoyable business simulation.
→ November 7, 2012 Farming Simulator 2013 is one of the purest and most focused business simulations I've ever played. You own a farm in a country town, and your only goal is to grow crops to make as money without any "final objective" to chase. There are no scores, storylines, cosmetic money sinks (such as new player skins or houses), or other long-term goals. You simply choose a crop from four possible seeds to start your career, plant it in your field, harvest it, sell it and put that cash back into the farm. It's almost impossible to damage your crops unless you're not paying attention, so it's difficult to fail or find yourself in a no-win situation.
Still, you should harvest as much as you can because of the sheer number of investments you can make into your business. There are dozens of licensed vehicles, forty plots of land (of which you only start with one), and additional buildings such as solar collectors and greenhouses that you can sink your money into. As you increase the number of fields you own, it can take more than a dozen tractors and tools to coordinate all the work and minimize downtime. It could take hundreds of hours of work to afford everything, but you have complete freedom in how you accomplish your goal and what your priorities are. Livestock, more or bigger fields, and faster machines are all available, so you'll have to think about what best suits your particular play style. More valuable crops take extra work and extra machines in order to maximize your profits, so you need to decide whether you're willing to make the investment or stick to simple but low-value crops. The entire system gives you a tremendous amount of freedom in how to best approach your business, although that first week will be fairly slow-paced.
The most unusual aspect of Farming Simulator 2013 is the complete lack of competition. In a single-player career, there is only you, the farm, and the AI townspeople who wander around but can't be interacted with. Even in multiplayer, all players work together on a single farm. In both modes, the game will not fail you for slow production or even no production at all. As a result the gameplay is incredibly peaceful, though possibly a bit daunting for newcomers to the series. Admittedly, the act of virtual farming doesn't sound like it would require a complex series of steps to perform, given that most of your job involves jumping in a tractor, attaching a tool, and slowly driving in straight lines. However, there are subtleties that are under-mentioned or completely undocumented that require some practice to master. AI-controlled workers can be hired for most tasks, and watching how they perform can teach you techniques to use when you get behind the wheel. Hiring those workers is the key to running a successful and profitable farm, especially when you're trying to manage a half-dozen fields or more at once.
The tutorials will help smooth out the learning curve, but the lessons are a mixed bag. All the tutorials focus solely on controls rather than techniques or theories. By the
Farming Simulator 2013
October 25, 2012
Welcome to the largest and most exciting Farming Simulator yet! Farming Simulator 2013 is bigger and enriched with many new features and packed with content, challenging you to take on the role of a modern day farmer.
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time you're done, you'll know exactly how to drive all your vehicles but not other essential tasks. For example, there are five selling points for your crops around the town, and each accepts different freight. The map doesn't tell you what each building is, so you'll have to drive around to learn the lay of the land. The map itself is huge, so you may get mixed up when you first start out. It's a step backwards; the previous game in the series featured a tutorial that had you take a tour of the town and learn what exactly the buildings did, so it's strange that it's not included in this version.
Those aren't the only presentation missteps. To help keep you busy during those slow early days, you're given regular "missions" to earn you some extra cash. There is no punishment for failing a mission, and they pay really well when you're starting out, but they're executed poorly. There are only two types of missions that ask you to mow some grass or move heavy equipment across the town. The problem is, you don't have the equipment to perform either mission when you start off with a new career, so you'll be forced to decline the mission unless you spend all your first-day profits on the machines. Further, the mission types seem a little strange... no missions for delivering certain crops to certain houses? No scrambling to save a field from a pest outbreak? How about a mission where you have to drive your water trailer to assist the fire department to help extinguish a burning building? While reward money is good, mowing grass is incredibly boring, and the mission system simply doesn't feel rewarding enough.
Despite the documentation and information the developers failed to provide, the community is incredibly friendly and helpful. It takes a certain kind of mentality to play Farming Simulator at length, and that mentality doesn't lend itself to griefers or trolls. As a result, you can hop into any public game or browse the forums to find dozens of people ready to help you learn the basics and answer your questions.
I've joined several multiplayer games of Farming Simulator 2013 blindly and never encountered any player who was unwilling to share helpful tips. Up to nine other players can join a farm that the host has taken online, and all those hands can make a serious difference in how much work gets done. Players can be instantly kicked or banned by the host, and any vehicle or tool can be reset with two clicks of the mouse in the map view, so there is simply no room for players who won't behave. All money earned goes to the farm owner (the host of the game), so other players are there just to help out and socialize. Without competition in any form, and because any save file can be used in single- or multiplayer, all players naturally gravitate toward helping each other accomplish goals in their farms. It's a relaxing environment that encourages teamwork and communication above all else.
Graphically, Farming Simulator 2013 is quite far behind the curve, but I suspect no one is getting it for state-of-the-art beauty. All the machines look good and are fantastically animated, but the environment is full of low resolution textures and low-polygon-count objects. It looks better than the previous game in the series, but that's not saying much. While the graphics are serviceable for the most part, there are blatant draw-in lines that make for some ugly moments. You can't adjust your draw-in distance in the option screen, so even if you have a top of the line computer, you won't be able to stand on a hill and watch amber waves of grain sway in the breeze. In fact, while you can usually tell what's going on with your farm just by the textures, certain states of the land (such as whether it's wet with fertilizer) are actually cut off with those short-distance draw-in lines. That means you won't be able to know exactly how much a particular field has grown unless you're practically on top of it. The map view helps offset this problem, but it's still a problem that can't be ignored.
There is no music to speak of, and any sounds in the game are limited to the engines of your vehicles. This helps sell the atmosphere, but your ears may be a little bored. Your best bet is to put on some music while you play.
As with previous entries in the franchise, Farming Simulator 2013 has mod support for future machines, maps, livestock, or buildings. Although mods were sorely lacking for the American release of the previous game, there were several large official DLC releases, so hopefully more content will be available in the coming months.
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On paper, Farming Simulator 2013 doesn't seem all that thrilling, but there's something intangible that keeps me coming back from more. The combination of the excellent community, unwavering focus on running the business, and the simplicity of the controls and your responsibilities creates a unique business simulation that rewards you proportionally to the amount of work you put into it. I've genuinely enjoyed playing it, and I'll continue to do so even after this review is posted. It's not the prettiest or deepest business simulator, but it would be folly to just dismiss it because of its subject matter. If you are patient and interested in a relaxing game without absolute winning or losing conditions, give it a try.
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Farming Simulator 2013 on PC
Despite some technical and presentation problems, Farming Simulator 2013 is a focused and enjoyable business sim.