The first title by Polish developer Ice Flames, Pure Farming 2018 takes the farming sim on a voyage across the globe. With playable farms available in the USA, Italy, Japan, Columbia, and if you buy the DLC, Germany too, there are a wealth of options as to where to farm, and what to farm. In-game vehicles are fully-licensed and fully-recreated, so romping around in a McCormick tractor or Mitsubishi 4x4 truly feel like you're driving the real thing.
With a delightful day/night cycle and solid lighting engine, the aforementioned vehicle and equipment models, and heavily-detailed landscape, Pure Farming 2018’s visuals are definitely up-to-scratch. They’re nothing to really write home about, but for a genre of games that is usually based more around substance over style, the folks at Ice Flames haven’t left said ‘style’ box unticked. It all looks and sounds nice, but how does it play?
For those not knowledgeable in the art of growing and harvesting crops, thankfully Pure Farming 2018 caters to newcomers. The single-player ‘campaign’ mode, ‘My First Farm’ introduces you to the basics of the game, but does it in such a way so not to patronise you with watered-down mechanics, safe to say, it somewhat throws you in deep end. Your tablet computer is your main companion through this title, being the hub for all of your crop and vehicle information, your map and objectives, and most importantly, your e-mail inbox. This is where the cracks begin to show.
The ‘tutorial’ is simply giving your objectives off the bat. You get a few steps revolving around character movement, driving vehicles, placing waypoints on your map etc., but then you’re told to jump in a combine harvester, and start, well, harvesting.
The way these objectives and instructions are given to you is my first criticism. An on-screen prompt gives you a rough idea of what you need to do, but to get further information on how to complete said objective is to open your tablet, open the email tab, open the email, read the information, close the email, close the e-mail tab, then you can put the tablet away. It all seems pointlessly long winded, and you get a new email for each and every step. It reached the point where I’d use the vague on-screen prompt only and guess the rest for myself, leaving me with a constant icon on my HUD telling me I have umpteen unread emails.
Once you’re trundling around a field harvesting wheat, the game begins to slow down even further. I mean, it’s no surprise that going back and forth in a field takes time, but three hours in on the most basic playthrough, I had harvested one field, helped out a fellow farmer spray his orchard, and started work on plowing a second field. I’m not criticising how long it took, but more because for a mode to get your head around the mechanics of the game, it covers them pretty slowly. There are an abundance of things you can do in this title, from simple planting and harvesting, to animal husbandry, having orchards, greenhouses, and even creating green energy. I dread to think just how much time I need to put into this title to get even the basics of everything possible down.
It doesn’t mean that the time spend going up and down a field in a tractor is dull. The vehicles really do have some weight to them when using them, and the attention to detail in the models and movements are to be praised no end. From the small mechanical movements when activating whatever you’re tugging behind your tractor, to the difference in vehicle movements depending on your load, attention to detail is once again fantastic. Vehicle hitboxes could do with a little tweaking.
With such fine details being given so much time, I’d expect to be able to swing within three feet of an object and not actually hit it. The image below shows my trailer's front wheel 'hitting' a bollard. Seriously. When having to pull up tractors quite close to combine harvesters and silos, it’d be nice to not bounce off the three-feet forcefield most in-game models seem to have.
In conclusion, Pure Farming 2018 is somewhat, a good place to start when it comes to farming sims. There is more to be desired when going in blind, but what they give you doesn’t leave you clueless. There are hours upon hours to be lost on your very own farm, and if you’re willing to sink this much time in, your thirst for wheat and tractor driving will indeed be quenched.
There is however, nothing definitive on Pure Farming’s roadmap when it comes to multiplayer, which, when it comes to the free farming mode, would be a necessary addition. You can hire in AI to do other jobs, but nothing really matches up to grabbing a few buddies and working on a farm together.
There are a few kinks to iron out, but the base experience of Pure Farming 2018 is something to behold. Something that sounds completely mundane on the surface, but when you’re up to your neck in wheat and agricultural machinery, you’ll be utterly engrossed.