Farmers rejoice! For years of having only Farming Simulator, we now have a new contender in our midst - Pure Farming 2018. It wasn't until I gave up on the idea of doing the gamified farming challenges and started off my own farm that I realized why it was called Pure Farming. Now for those used to Farming Simulator, beware, this has no easy/medium/hard start off point, this is a pure simulation. In that regard, this game is brilliant. The map size seems to be about the same, absolutely massive, so there is lots to do, and plenty to take care of.
Let's start off with visuals. Pure Farming 2018 does have some incredible detail and doesn't appear to be overly GPU-heavy. My Vega 64 on Ultra with FXAA on high gets a solid 75fps and around 60fps in the rain. There is lots to adjust in the graphics settings and a lot to tweak for audiophiles as well. It does seem to be a bit more "cartoony" then Farming Sim but the detail to the crops and equipment looks fantastic, something a lot of people are hoping to see happen in Farming Simulator 19 later this year. When the field is plowed and cultivated you can actually see the lovely grooves from the plow into the field. The vehicles and farmers will walk as if it's bumpy, and it is, the same with the edges of the fields that are slightly elevated. In that regard PF2018 is fantastic; the crops look absolutely brilliant. It's what every Farming Simulator fan wants Farming Sim 19 to be, but Pure Farming has turned up and already done it. Not bad for a first try.
The level of customization on offer in Pure Farming 2018 is incredible. Not only can the character be dressed head to toe, but internet stations can be added to the radio setting using your music folder location. Farming Simulator 17 was only using three or so internet radios but the fact that any online station can be added is fantastic, it makes the game feel much more international. As far as controls go, Pure Farming 2018 is a very basic game; the controls are pretty much identical to Farming Sim 17 and can also be comfortably played with a controller. Keybinds can't be changed as of yet but it's not needed. Everything is pretty much adjustable, whether that's dead zone, mouse sensitivity, camera sensitivity and so on. As with every factor of Pure Farming, there's a lot to mess around with, which is great.
Now onto gameplay. Pure Farming has it's own farming challenges separate from the actual game. Farming Sim would incorporate those into the single player gameplay but I find Pure Farming's method far better as it can be quite helpful to learn machinery before playing. Farming Sim has a tutorial menu and this would be the equivalent. As mentioned before, the difficulty cannot be changed, which I find to be fantastic as it's way too easy to make a ridiculous amount of money in Farming Sim, whereas in Pure Farming the economy has been finely tuned. Of course in FS17 the difficulty can be changed but I like the fact this is an actual simulation, no changes needed, which reminded me of Dirt Rally.
Now to the realism. In Pure Farming 2018, crops will wither and die and you'll be unable to harvest them. Fortunately, you do get a warning of how long is left although players will need to frugal with their use of the time forward function lest they back themselves into a corner. They also do some things differently to the competition, which I have to say I'm a huge fan of. A drone that can pin waypoints and give you information about each field you own is fantastic, different and incredibly well implemented.
Each field has its own stats: plowing, irrigation, cultivation and so on. When it rains, your fields automatically get irrigated, the fields will change color and so on. It's a feature folks wish Farming Sim did and Pure Farming has done it incredibly well. The color of each field will change on the minimap according to plowing, cultivation, seeding and then when it's ready to harvest. Your tablet also contains all the information for absolutely everything, including animals that can be raised, eggs collected and then sold off to the butcher for meat. Again, in the realism department this game is far ahead of all the previous Farming Sims, now I'm itching to get my hands on Farming Simulator 19 to see if they've learned from player suggestions. So far, for realism, Pure Farming wins hands down.
Unfortunately, for all the positives, there are a couple of downsides which I hope will be solved very shortly and would drastically improve the game. Pure Farming 2018 is very lacking in equipment. Whereas Farming Sim has at least two dozen tractors, Pure Farming probably has a dozen, if that. Now it's understandable that Pure Farming doesn't have the same contracts and deals with manufacturers but it is a farming simulation and should definitely have a lot more equipment then this has in launch version. The other downside? No multiplayer whatsoever. Now, that may be a much harder problem to fix. It's a real shame because there is SO much to do in the game that it would be incredible to actually play it in multiplayer with some friends. Put on some music, open up Discord and have a blast. This last point is what really kills the score for this game, especially in this day in age.
Despite these critical flaws, Pure Farming 2018 is absolutely brilliant but with a couple points that will no doubt deter some keen farmers, one of those being the lack of multiplayer. The lack of equipment is easier to deal with as that can always be improved upon with updates and expansions, but multiplayer is a more fundamental oversight. I have run into a couple of small bugs that should hopefully be fixed by release day, one of them being I can't dump rice into my silo or to sell with a specific trailer. I think it's a fantastic single player experience with just the right amount of difficulty. Now, the thing that will more harm this game from getting the attention it needs is the lack of multiplayer. For a lot of people with a game like this, it's an absolute deal breaker. This is Ice Flames' first attempt and hopefully, it doesn't deter them from going further with a sequel because the competition it's providing to Farm Sim is great to see. The comparison reminds me of Euro Truck Simulator 2 where you can just party it up by yourself, do a seriously long haul and pass the time. However, ETS2 does have multiplayer and that adds so much more replayability.
Time will tell how this game develops but I truly hope that they continue the support and add more content and features to Pure Farming 2018, hopefully, to make it the fantastic game it so nearly is. It's already got much more crop diversity then Farming Sim 17, and the potential to better it is there for all to see.