Farming simulator 17 is the newest release of the surprisingly popular series from Giants Software, featuring two whole maps full of farms, additional farmer roles from last years and a whole variety of vehicles to shake a pitchfork at. For a game that is basically a Yorkshire job simulator, it's a pleasant change of pace from other recent titles and is available on Xbox One, PS4 & Steam.
If you're like me and have never partaking in a simulator of agriculture, then there is a short tutorial on how to use a few of the more common machines. First thing you'll notice is the clever control layout for each vehicle. The D-Pad and action buttons activate numerous features on the vehicle, however holding either the left, right or both shoulder buttons give you other alternative control making the handling of the vehicle and tools a breeze.
The tutorial starts you off in a combine harvester, harvesting a wheat field thats been grown and ready for its resources to be used. With fields and jobs, you either do it yourself or you can hire a worker to do it automatically. A lot of the farming involves you driving up and down a field whether its collecting, cultivating or sowing, so giving the option to hire someone to do it gives you more time to start other projects. Obviously a repetitive job mending to your own farm, but if you want to earn some extra quick money in the game, you can work at others fields and do jobs for them. With the money you've made you can purchase things like more power tractors, or bigger harvesters to make your jobs in game easier.
One of the new feature for this years game was farming animals. You could purchase animals like pigs, cows and chickens and maintain them at your farm as well. A nice touch to a game simulating the farmers life, as it is pleasant seeing your animals at your farm, and can also turn a bit of a profit if properly looked after. Another new feature of the game is logging, things like lopping down trees and de branching. Another fun feature as you get to use one of the games hand tools, the chainsaw. Cut trees down and then cut in to pieces to take to the saw mill. After this is done you are able to then start the process of growing new trees.
Also included is the online co-op, with up to four people in the same lobby. The online plays exactly the same as single player, and also supports mic chat if you aren't playing with people in your party. I was surprised to see how many people played this online at the time of writing, even to the point that lobbies were full.
Farming simulator does have a few quirks. Player control is a struggle, as there is no option to change the sensitivity of the joysticks to anything above snail speed, and the car handles like the roads have marbles all over them if you drive anything over 40 miles per hour. Also some animations are quite choppy especially with the hand tools. After spending a little bit of time in the game, and getting the hang of the vehicles, you'll soon realise it isn't that bad of a game. Farming Simulator 17 is a great step forward in the franchise and one that will chew up of lot of your undivided time.