Farmers and simulation lovers rejoice, the day has finally arrived. It's been slightly over two years since the release of Farming Simulator 17 and the developers at Giants Software have finally graced us with Farming Simulator 2019.
The biggest front-of-house change is the overhaul of the graphics engine which was looking a bit outdated in FS17. This is a revision of the previous engine rather than a total do-over, providing an additional level of visual detail that just wasn't there before.
For the longest time, the only competitor to Farming Simulator has been previous versions of itself. Up until recently, Farming Simulator aficionados had only one game to play, but that all changed with the release of Pure Farming 2018 earlier this year. Pure Farming 2018 did everything right except for the paucity of equipment options and lack of multiplayer. If both of these games were combined (harvester - Jon), it would be a 10 out of 10 without a doubt; an agricultural greatest hits package. Unfortunately, they aren't, and both could have been greater than they've ultimately delivered, Farming Simulator 19 included. Giants Software has listened to the community and fans and have a very good game, but not quite as fantastic as it could've perhaps been.
One of the major changes to FS19 is you no longer buy just a field. You buy the field and the land around it, meaning no more going around with forestry equipment cutting down trees and making a killing selling either logs or wood chips, those days are gone. You must now own the land, plant poplars and saplings, wait for them to grow and then cut them down for profit; it's no longer possible to go around with a chainsaw and trailer and try to cut down trees.
Another welcome addition is you now have to buy and place animal pens. It's feasible to buy a field big enough to put all your pens in one location - no more driving across the map to tend to your sheep, cows or pigs. The horses are also a nice touch and can be tended to like other animals, except for the fact that they must be ridden daily to increase their fitness and then sold for a profit. The higher the fitness the more money the mares can be sold for.
In Farming Simulator 19 your field will now grow weeds. The old weeds need to be sprayed with herbicide to kill them and then removed; the young ones only needing to be removed with a weeder. Lime is also a new addition and is only needed to lime a field after 2-3 harvests. It's quite expensive as well and, again, requires it's own equipment. If you'd prefer to avoid the hassle, both of these changes can be turned off in the menu with each new farm created.
The AI helpers have also been worked on in the intervening two years. Although they seem to be great in some areas, I still occasionally found myself needing to either manually finish something or re-hiring them after starting in the same area, although the fact that you can create and expand fields makes it quite difficult.
When driving over grass, the grass now moves as it should, and when driving over full-grown crops they'll be destroyed by your tractor, your trailer, or both. Of course, fitting narrow tires to your tractor will solve that problem and it can also be turned off in the menu. Personally, I fitted the tires and wait for my combine to unload on the side that has no crops. Sometimes it doesn't happen and you have to destroy some crops, but it's a workable solution for the most part. They've also added more options for equipment arm sensitivity and camera sensitivity so it makes it a lot easier if you don't have a giant mousepad.
And of course Giants Software has added a huge amount of new equipment, all great and very functional, the John Deere equipment being a welcome addition for die-hard fans. Almost everything can be sold, finally, land can also be sold as well, a huge change for people who don't want to work a field anymore. For the most part, the changes are good.
Now for the parts that have disappointed me, the first being that Farming Simulator 19 looks nothing like the trailer. We're all used to graphical downgrades but everyone was expecting the game to look incredible based on the pre-release footage and 'graphical overhaul claims', and it's a bit of a disappointment it doesn't. And for the most part, everything else has remained unchanged. A game that's been in the making for two years only adding two new crops - cotton and oats. I would have loved to see it match what Pure Farming 2018 has done and added cherries, olives, coffee, and so on. It would make for a far more immersive farming sim, especially in multiplayer.
As of review, only two maps are available FS2019, one in Europe and one in America, with a South America map becoming available on release day, which is a little on the trim side. Pure Farming 2018 has maps in a few countries, albeit some of them being small they are incredibly detailed. It's a bit too much of the same old, same old. I would have loved to see fertilizing and growth detail on the mini map instead of having to open up the main menu every time, especially for people playing with lime and weeding turned on. It's in danger of seeming like recycled Farming Simulator 17 with reworked graphics.
However, the multiplayer has changed quite a bit for the better. Players can now have either compete or work cooperatively, not only granting access to each other's farms but also transferring money if need be. For example, me and GD'er 'Henry11' bought neighbouring lands; he wanted to do nothing but animals and instead of buying oat and straw for his horses, I grew it on my land while being paid to do so. I was able to dump the oats in his silo and horse feed without an issue, operating as a proper business. It's a very welcome change and makes things very interesting and pleasant. You can also go back to the olden days and just have one farm and work on it together splitting the profits. You can start from scratch with limited funds or start with quite a bit more and still take out a loan. With everything needing to be placed though, be careful with actual costs as some ground needs to be leveled, cemented and built, which all adds to the cost. The price you see is the price of the silo alone, once placed before purchase you will see the actual price. It's very well put together.
If you have never played Farming Simulator or are new to simulation games, Farming Simulator 2019 may be the best version to buy. It's the best Farming Simulator yet, especially if you like to play in multiplayer. I still think for a true farming experience that Pure Farming might be a stronger bet for the future. Although it does lack equipment they are making it much better with every update. Farming Simulator has come a long way, with this one being one that a lot of fans have asked for, albeit in baby steps.
All said and done though, the modding community for Farming Simulator is absolutely insane, from people making equipment to different maps to farm on and all work on together in multiplayer. It's surely one of the main factors as to why Farming Simulator has become so successful. Most aficionados will already be picking this up having waited two years since the last one, but for people who haven't played yet or gotten into the genre of gaming, they absolutely should.
Even though Farming Simulator 19 is much better then previous versions, I can't help but wonder how much better it could have been if they had taken a few additional steps. Perhaps Giants is waiting to use a new graphics engine to give it a complete overhaul? Who knows, I'm just glad the mods will flesh out the game as they have with Farming Simulator 2017.