Competition spurs innovation, and yet even with the recent influx of entries into the farming simulator genre little seemed to change. The core mechanic of offering up sprawling hectares of ripe farm land and a healthy selection of equipment for which to cultivate that land has become vital to qualifying as a farming sim. Pure Farming 2018, developed by Ice Flames and published by Techland, continues with this trend in it’s free farming mode, but also aims to bend the rules of the genre by being the first to introduce both a story based career mode as well as a fast paced challenge mode. Despite this attempt to shake things up with gameplay, Pure Farming 2018 does also stick to tradition with it’s character customization options. There is only one character model available, and he’s your classic stereotypical farmhand with a variety of interesting hats to pair with his plaid shirts and black – or brown – work boots. If you had any intentions of being a lady farmer (as I did) you’re just out of luck here.
If you choose to play the aforementioned career mode, you’re presented with a Stardew Valley-esque scenario where you’ve inherited your late grandfather’s farm. Armed with limited resources, and a handy dandy tablet, it is up to you to learn to manage the farm and eventually expand it into a booming agricultural empire. The career mode is an ideal starting point for newcomers as the earlier stages focus heavily on learning to use and maintain the equipment that is available to you.
Learning maintenance quickly becomes one of the most vital skills for your farm, as Pure Farming 2018 puts heavy emphasis on realism as far as equipment is concerned. If you dare to drag your discs behind when turning, for example, they can become damaged. This costs funding to repair and can take away from other necessary expenses such as purchasing seed or renting better equipment. This extends from simply using your equipment properly, such as pulling up the discs before making a turn, all the way to washing away the mud and grime that accumulates as a result of heavy usage. Take care of your equipment, and before you know it you’ll be using up your profits to expand your farm. First you may only expand locally, adding an additional field here or scooping a neighbor’s orchard there. But with time and patience you’ll be taking on the global agriculture scene, adding farms in exotic locations such as Italy, Japan, and Columbia. Each location brings with it different crops to cultivate, such as coffee beans in Columbia or rice in Japan.
It’s not all about plowing wheat, corn and hemp, however. If you’re really craving some additional farm chores, Pure Farming 2018 mixes in a little animal husbandry to keep you on your toes. You can start small with rabbits and chickens, or go full farm and add pigs and hogs. Don’t get too attached, however, as you’re expected to breed and sell off your livestock at just the right time in order to earn top dollar. It’s all a part of the gameplay loop that fans of farming simulators know and love – produce, sell, and upgrade to produce more. And while that loop is notably a huge part of the campaign and free farm modes, challenge mode does allow players to shake up the farming simulator genre a little more. Challenge mode sees players through specific events, such as attempting to cultivate a crop despite a drought, or protecting your farm’s assets from an encroaching wildfire. These short little games are perfect for more advanced players who want to push the envelope of what they can do with a farming simulator. Each of the game’s four locations offer their own challenge scenarios to choose from.
Pure Farming 2018 focuses heavily on its realistic art style, and the detail shines through even down to the tiniest buttons on the equipment’s dashboards. Sadly, these buttons can not be interacted with, but its a forgivable offense because you’ll be far too busy drawing in the detail around you. Unforgivable, however, is the struggle to control the equipment that seems to plague every farming simulator. Pure Farming 2018 is not immune to the same curse, and players may often plant a field, only to turn back and discover that they’ve made chaotic “S” shaped rows as opposed to night straight lines of crops. This mishap is even more noticeable due to the fact that the crops do not grow in real time, often popping up on one side of the field before you’ve even finished planting the other side. Techland and Ice Flames have acknowledged this hiccup in their road map, and there are plans to address it in future updates.