Sim racing games are fantastic. Being able to drive everything from Japanese Kei cars to Italian exotics keeps me coming back again and again. However, like most of you, I do enjoy various other games, which is why I’m taking a look at a new farming simulator from Ice Flames.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Why is GTPlanet reviewing a farming game? Well, we were offered a review code for Pure Farming 2018 and figured it was worth a look. Plus, I’m a fan of farming simulators (along with pretty much any other work-focused sim games).
To check out the game I played the Steam version using both a keyboard/mouse combo and an Xbox 360 controller.
Content and Value for Money
The biggest feature of Pure Farming 2018 is the ability to move about the world to different farming locations. Currently, there’s Montana, Italy, Japan, and Columbia. If you happened to pre-ordered the game or want to spend $5.99, there is also a Germany map available.
During your game, you can move from one area to another via the in-game tablet. This is a particularly nice feature for a farming sim since there’s often downtime waiting for your crops to grow.
One drawback is the size of the maps. The Montana map is absolutely massive, which is excellent. However, the Italy, Columbia, and Japan maps are fairly small in comparison.
To help with the size issue, the maps also have unique fields, orchards, and plantations to work. For instance, in Montana, you can grow wheat, while in Japan you can maintain a rice field or cherry orchard. This adds some more variety not seen in many of the other farming sims on the market.
Due to the variation of crops, there are also a number of specialized machines to farm them. There are 84 different pieces of equipment, which are all licensed. However, since this is a European game, some of the equipment doesn’t make sense in some locations.
When you start off on the Montana map you get a pick-up truck like any good American farmer should have. But, weirdly it’s a Mitsubishi L200, a truck sold almost everywhere except the US. This also goes for some of the tractors too. While there are Zetor and JCB tractors in North America, the other prominent brand in the game, Landini, isn’t.
While this is a relatively minor complaint overall, it does hurt the immersion factor a little bit with the game. But, at the end of the day, I’d rather have licensed content than fictional equipment. Thankfully, Ice Flames did say that Steam Workshop integration is coming. This will largely correct any of the out of place machines and add a ton of new ones.
In addition to farming, the game also has plenty of other activities to do — mainly raising livestock. In total there are four different animal varieties to raise: cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits. It’s not simply buying them and reaping the rewards though. You need to raise them at a young age and then take them to the butcher once they’re too old to produce any more.
Feeding your animals is key, which typically means growing massive fields of grain. However, you can also mow giant grass fields to convert into fodder.
If this all seems like a bit much, fret not. Through the use of the in-game tablet, there’s an extensive encyclopedia that tells you exactly what’s needed for each animal.
In addition to raising livestock, you can also collect sapphires for a large cash reward and in career mode, you can do side quests. Yes, unlike the Farming Simulator games, Pure Farming 2018 has a career mode. Here you start off as someone who’s inherited their grandfather’s farm. You’re deep in debt and the farm needs a ton of work.
It’s a rather RPG-like experience. Based on your “quests” you get experience and level up. As you level up you get access to bigger and better equipment, along with more of the map to explore.
While it’s not the most riveting story in the world, it does help Pure Farming 2018 feel more like a game. All too often job simulators get hung up on just a free play mode without any direction. So seeing a way to actually progress gives it some more replayability.
Finally, there’s a slew of challenges that range from fairly quick to incredibly long. These predefined scenarios have you harvest a certain amount of crops or obtain a set amount of money.
Driving Physics and Handling
While sim racing games focus on a plethora of things regarding physics, farming simulators look to two elements. First is weight, and the second is how the equipment interacts with the environment. Thankfully, for Pure Farming 2018, the team really paid attention to both of these details.
Weight is probably the most pronounced element in the game. If you attempt to pull a heavy trailer with an underpowered tractor you won’t go anywhere. Same goes for loading up a trailer with more weight than the vehicle can handle.
Also when you attach something heavy to either the front or rear of the tractor the suspension squats like you’d expect. Then when you try pulling it, the tractor will accelerate very slow and braking distance will end up much longer.
This makes the game feel truer to life than other farming sims I’ve played. Even Farming Simulator 17 didn’t seem to get the weight of the equipment right and rarely varied between loaded and unloaded trailers.
With environment interactions, the game also shines.
If you’re barreling along at 40mph in the L200 pick-up and decide to take a shortcut across a muddy field, you slow down in a hurry. Same goes for when you’re plowing a field. As soon as the plow breaks into the dirt it takes more effort to pull it along.
Both the weight and the environmental interactions make you think and plan your machinery better too. So while you might be able to afford that massive cultivator to make your job easier, your current tractor might be too weak.
There is a drawback with the physics though: it doesn’t handle high speeds very well.
Now I know a tractor isn’t going to rocket around at 70mph. But the Mitsubishi pickup and the DAF semi trucks definitely can. When the speed gets up there, the trucks tend to feel floaty and are hard to control — especially with a keyboard.
Also, if you happen to hit a bump you will go airborne. While this is true if you hit a big bump or sudden elevation change in real life, it seems exaggerated in-game.
With almost any job simulator, the graphics are fairly average. This is definitely true for Pure Farming 2018 too. But, while the graphics don’t overly impress, they are a few nice details that show the devs put some time into them.
First and foremost, the equipment modelling is very good both inside and out. Everything looks fairly close to its real-life counterpart and has a bunch of tiny detail too. Everything from hoses to dust caps are all present throughout the models.
However, while there is an interior view for all the machines, some of them do look a little sparse. Granted the real-life equipment isn’t on par with a Mercedes S-Class so it’s expected to be a little barren inside. I do think a few more touches could’ve been added when you venture into the first-person mode.
The vehicles do get muddy though. Drive them through a field or spend a long day planting wheat, and everything is covered in a layer of grime. Unlike some other games, it’s not an instant on/off switch. The dirt gradually appears and will slowly fade when you take a power wash to it.
For as nicely modelled as the equipment is, the environment is less so. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but don’t expect AAA quality. The background and sky are mostly 2D and the terrain is a repeating texture pattern.
Everything looks fine from afar, but getting up close does really make these niggles more pronounced.
One positive about the environment is the particle system. The dust kicked up from your tires as you cruise along the path looks fairly good. Also, when you’re harvesting grain you’ll see fine bits of the harvest fill the air and catch the sun — this is one of my favorite details of the game for sure.
Finally, the entire world does feel a bit barren at times. While there are other vehicles on the road, they don’t really seem to creep up all that often. Also when you head to the town center you maybe see a few people. Making the environment more lively would help with the immersion factor too.
All to often job simulators just recycle sounds for every piece of equipment. However, Pure Farming 2018 doesn’t fall into that trap. Instead nearly every tractor, harvester, or truck sounds unique.
Of course being diesel power plants they all sound fairly similar, but it’s clear that Ice Flames did its homework when it comes to capturing sounds.
Also, when you start using the equipment under load, the sound changes again. You can hear the RPMs kick up and the engine struggle to pull the plow through the dirt.
Combine that with the already good physics and the sense of realism increases.
The environment sounds are less detailed, but still pretty good. Walk through a wheat field and you hear the plants rustle against your jeans. Get up early in the morning and hear rooster crowing and birds chirping away.
The one thing I don’t really care for is the in-game music. There are only three different tracks that will play on a loop if you turn the radio on. At first, they’re catchy and fit the game, but after the umpteenth time you hear them, it gets a little old.
Apparently, Ice Flames thought about this. In the options menu, you have the ability to input the URL of an internet radio station. This allows you to stream it in the game when you hop in a vehicle and turn the radio on.
If you have a large music collection on your PC, you can also point the game to look at those MP3 files and play those as well.
Rather surprisingly, many other job sim games skip over this. This leaves you with dealing with the in-game music or muting everything to stream Spotify in the background. Being able to do it all in the game is a very welcome touch.
Pure Farming 2018 is a single player game and appears that it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
While I’m not giving the game a score for a feature it didn’t promise, I did want to point out a few things regarding the online community.
The developer is extremely engaged, especially on the Steam discussion boards. Four days after the game’s release, it implemented several new features gamers suggested. Ice Flames also laid out a support plan and continuing development of the game through the end of 2018.
Of course, it shouldn’t shock me when a company does the right thing for its fans. However, given the lack of interaction from many of the larger studios in today’s market, it’s refreshing to see this.
Another element of note is an ever-expanding mod community. There’s already a program out to help players convert their Farming Simulator 17 mods over to Pure Farming 2018. The developer is also very supportive of having mods introduced into the game. While this doesn’t help console players, it does give the PC version a nice boost.
While Pure Farming 2018 doesn’t have the polish of Farming Simulator 17, it’s an excellent alternative. It also brings some much-needed competition to the genre that’s mainly filled with buggy, messy games or cheap mobile ports.
The new features, like traveling the world, are a major plus for the game too. Not being stuck in one location watching the grass grow helps keep the pace of the gaming moving along. However, the smaller maps in the locations other than Montana does hurt the game a bit here.
If you’re a fan of sim farming, then Pure Farming 2018 is definitely for you and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up. Just don’t go in thinking you’re getting Farming Simulator 17 because you’ll end up disappointed. Instead, go into it with an open mind and you’ll have fun.
If you’ve never jumped into the world of sim agriculture before I’d approach with caution.
While the game is good and filled with a ton of content, it still has quirks. A few bugs pop up now and then and overall it feels a little more early access than a full release. But the dev team is working incredibly hard to fix this. Ice Flames really does seem dedicated to making this the best game it can.
So if it interests you, but you’re unsure, waiting a couple weeks for some more patches to rollout might be worth it. By that time many of the weird bugs will be squashed and there’ll be more content available.
Also, the game is available for both the Xbox One and PS4. However, if you have even a modest gaming PC, I’d encourage you to get the game through Steam. Between the modding community and quicker patch releases, you’ll have a better experience overall.
Pure Farming 2018
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