The mainstream success of the farming genre may be attributed directly to a certain YouTube video showing tractors breakdancing to dubstep, but agricultural adventures are big business these days. Case in point: Techland’s Pure Farming 2018 is the latest in a long line of pretenders attempting to cull Giants Software’s ripened crown. But is this fertile foray about to become your new favourite – or is it barley worth bothering with?
To be honest, this is the most beginner friendly farming simulator to date. While the Farming Simulator series has generally left you to figure out its nuances for yourself, Pure Farming 2018 comes with a complete single player campaign designed to walk you through the basics of managing your own stretch of land. While you work your way through this, ticking off quests, you’ll pick up essential knowledge which can then be transposed to the sandbox mode.
Progress, as with all of these games, is glacial. You’ll need to turn the soil, plant your seeds, fertilise the produce, and cut it all down in order to work one field; hired help is an option if you’re willing to put your hand in your pocket, but it can take up to two hours just to tend one medium sized piece of land. We found this a little overkill to be honest; while the genre is defined by snail-like sense of speed, it feels too sluggish here.
That said, a new challenges option allows you to get to the heart of farming matters much quicker. These one-shot missions throw you into a variety of “arcade”-esque scenarios, where you’ll need to be efficient with your actions in order to meet the completion criteria. Like the campaign, it’s probably not what veterans will purchase the game for, but it represents a nice change of pace and a willingness to shake up what’s been done before.
Of course, it is the sandbox mode where you’ll spend most of your time, tending your fields and attempting to predict crop demand. The roster of available equipment isn’t quite as large as in Giants Software’s series, but there are still a good number of tools and vehicles to save up for. The big thing here is the number of maps; you can manage a farm in the USA, Japan, Columbia, and Italy. There’s also DLC for Germany if you so desire.
While the maps share common assets which kills the authenticity somewhat, they do have unique challenges; you won’t have to tend waterlogged rice fields in Italy, for example, but you do in Japan. This adds some much needed variety to the type of tasks you’ll be doing, and it gives you a reason to actually tackle the other maps and spend some time in them. Visually they could be a lot better, but the game’s clearly been built on a budget.
For a series that’s defined by its tardiness, Pure Farming 2018 leans a little too heavily on the slow side for our liking. This is a perfect first choice for newcomers, though, as its campaign walks you through every single element of agricultural “action” – and there’s a helluva lot to wrap your head around. The various environments could do with a little more visual identity, but they offer unique challenges that make them worth playing. And while the quick-fix challenge mode won’t keep purists occupied for long, we certainly appreciate the attempt at distilling the title’s gameplay into short session bursts.