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Feeding Cows & Tipping Tractors In Pure Farming 2018

I've got a brand new farming simulator.

The popularity of farming and many other simulators is quite baffling to a lot of people, myself included, and yet there’s a very successful niche that a number of developers cater to. With the yearly Farming Simulator games, is there space for another one on the market? Well zombie game specialists Techland certainly seem to think so, and that’s why they’re publishing Pure Farming 2018 by Ice Flames.

Here’s a game that looks to check all the farming sim boxes – and all the flannel shirts while it’s at it – with a bunch of licensed and accurately recreated farming equipment. If you’ve been stuck behind a tractor on a country lane in the last few years, you might recognise the back end of a tractor that you became intimately familiar with over a torturous hour or two. Personally, I can’t tell my Landini 5H T4i New Cab from my Zetor Crystal 160, but I can tell you that the Gregoire G9.330 grape harvester is an impressively specific bit of kit.

You’ll be putting them to use across a number of farms in several different regions, from America to Italy, Japan and Colombia, with a fifth region in Germany as a pre-order bonus. Each has their own unique crops and vehicles to use to propagate, look after and then harvest, or you can take the route of raising livestock.

In the farm set in Montana, USA, you can grow corn as far as the eye can see, in what is the biggest map in the game by far – taking up a drone and flying around really shows this off – that contrasts with the coffee and industrial hemp that grow best in Colombia, while the cherry trees and their utterly distinctive blossom will easily make Japan the most iconic farm in the game.

Growing each of these crops has a number of fairly clear steps to follow, made all the clearer when following a particular mission and challenge, or using the My First Farm mode to teach you the ins and outs. The end result you can then take off to various factories and sell them in the nearby town, getting a return that you can then invest further in your farm, buying new plots, building certain structure to add a new facet to your business, getting more specialist hardware.

The game is really what you make of it in the end, as you decide the kind of farm you want to build, the direction you want to take the produce and then how you want to expand to other continents, since the game lets you run all the farms simultaneously, in real time. Alternatively, you can take on the Farming Challenges, which have such dramatic premises as a locust infestation or the looming threat of a forest fire to your hemp. From what I saw, they’re nothing quite as dramatic, simply setting you a particular goal to accomplish in a particular time limit.

Of course, sitting down to play this with only a relatively short window in which to play, I wasn’t concerning myself with the crop yield in three months time, but how I could mess around within the game’s sandbox. Hop into a tractor and have a farm to spray halfway across the map? I’m not taking the roads, I’m going over hills, swerving past trees, cutting across other fields and more. If there’s crops to harvest, let me tell you that straight lines are boring and I’d rather carve some crop circles in them, draw lewd imagery, or simply leave a single hemp bush in a corner that would send some people on edge.

By far the most fun I had was with the game’s physics engine. It’s fairly flexible and yet still quite tame at the same time. Tipping a tractor, for example, should be impossible because of how they right themselves like a weeble that’s been wobbled. The only way I found was to get a wheel to clip through the scenery.

Somewhat more intentional and within the game’s design was my attempt to stack bales of hay and then pick them all up using a tractor’s hay picker-upper (I forget the technical term). Trying to keep the grabber level enough as I raised the arm, so that I could carry two or three at a time up a small incline to the machine that would mix it into food for the cows was a concerted effort and I’ll admit was very satisfying when they popped out of existence as I dropped them in.

The aim of all this was to feed my cows and get them producing milk for me. I must admit, the lack of nuance to this slightly disappointed me, as those hay bales simply vanished when dropped onto the mulching machine, the troughs for the cows to eat from didn’t actually fill up when driving through the shed, and then I didn’t even have the satisfaction of being able to open the gate for them to get at the food.

The kind of silliness and nonsense I cooked up probably won’t sustain the fun and enjoyment within the game for that long, but I can see something here for those who are either already fond of simulators or have a soft spot for Harvest Moon’s more agricultural side. The satisfaction comes from building up your farms and creating something tangible. Is it for me? Probably not, I’m more of a city builder kind of guy, but if growing virtual crops and rearing virtual cattle is your bag instead of fretting over virtual traffic flows, then it’s great to see a fresh competitor coming to market.

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