I have to say, simulators are definitely my jam. Ever since I was a kid, they’ve been my favorite genre next to racing games. While I primarily love flight simulators, I’ve played a number of others such as trains, boats and yes, farming too. In fact, I’ve put about 41 hours so far into Farming Simulator 17 on PC. Focusing on that title specifically, after having so much experience with it, I was unsure how things would be on the much more simplistic 3DS. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
As one would expect, the game is not as robust as its PC and console counterparts. While the core features are still there, things have been simplified to an extent. While some of that has to do with the limited power of the handheld, I think it was also a deliberate move too. Younger players might be overwhelmed with all the technicalities of the PC and console versions, whereas just about anyone can pick up and play the 3DS edition and understand it right away.
So, how simplified is it?
Compared to the PC version, Farming Simulator 18 on 3DS is pretty much a breeze. There are three difficulty levels (Easy, Normal and Hard). I only tried out the Normal level, just to get a balanced experience. You start with basic equipment (one harvester and two tractors), but it does not take as long to get the ball rolling. You already have crops that have been harvested and sitting in the storage silos, along with fields that are ready to harvest right then-and-there.
On the topic of vehicles, let’s quickly go over the different types: tractors, harvesters, trucks, and forestry equipment. Everything beyond these are tools that can be used by these machines. Certain tools can only be used by specific machines: for instance, tractors can pull trailers and use tools like cultivators and fertilizers, but you’ll need a harvester to use the crop heads. Like in the PC version, there are better versions of the same machines and tools, but they’re more expensive. Even so, these enhanced versions are more powerful and make the work a lot easier. For example, the basic tractors may struggle to pull some of the heavier tools, but more powerful tractors won’t even break a sweat.
I was surprised that realistic factors like the difference in cheap/expensive vehicles was still present here in the 3DS version. It doesn’t stop there. Tractors are a lot smaller and agile than the huge, lumbering harvesters, and the driving difference is reflected even here in the 3DS version. Tractors can easily zip around the map, while harvesters bob-and-plod like you would expect them to. Vehicles and tools still accumulate dirt overtime, which is a nice touch that I wasn’t expecting to also be present here. Even so, the overall experience is still much more simple here on the little handheld.
Taking care of your fields is a cinch on 3DS. On PC and console, fields need to be properly maintained: they need to be ploughed, fertilized, and cultivated regularly in order for crops to grow and produce the highest yield. On 3DS, the process is simple: cultivate the field, plant the seeds, wait a few minutes, harvest the crops, then cultivate the field—repeat from step one. That’s all it takes, and the field’s output won’t change, unlike in the more complex versions. You can still apply fertilizers to increase the yield, but that’s it.
Also, there’s no change in weather unlike in the other versions, so you can work in the fields 24/7. The day-night cycle is still present, but the passage of time has been shortened greatly. While the PC and console versions allow you to play in real-time (60 seconds = 1 minute), the 3DS version has an unchangeable time system. Crops don’t take long to grow at all, and you’ll be rotating between fields very regularly.
Since planting and harvesting happens so quickly, you’ll be making money in no time. Just like on console and PC, the selling price of the different crops regularly changes, but because you don’t have to wait very long between harvests, you can sell your yield, buy a tractor, and make most of that money back in under an hour. On top of that, there are mini-missions that appear every few minutes which always land you a few solid thousands in your bank account in a matter of minutes. Compared to the PC/console versions, the simplicity does take a bit of heart out of the simulator, but I don’t see it as a bad thing in this case. This helps the game appeal to more casual gamers and even younger players. Hardcore simmers can stick with the more advanced version.
Coming off of gameplay, let’s talk presentation. Visually speaking, I was impressed by Farming Simulator 18 on 3DS. Being an open-world title, it is taxing on the little system, but it manages to hold out for the most part. Vehicle models aren’t half bad, and the engine sounds are even decent. Animations are simplified, but still look good. The framerate fluctuates between the 20-30FPS range. If you turn on the 3D-functionality, then it drops down well below 20. Seeing that 3D adds absolutely nothing to the experience, there’s no reason to turn it on. Mind you, this was played on an original 3DS XL, so perhaps the New 3DS can handle it better. In the audio department, the 3DS version continues to be decent. There’s a few original music tracks that play while you’re driving around; they all sound great and fit the ‘country/outdoorsy’ theme, but the limited number means that you’ll be hearing the same songs quite often. The music can be disabled if you get annoyed by it.
So, is Farming Simulator 18 on 3DS worth it? Making a direct comparison to the PC and console versions, of course it comes in weighing on the lighter side. But, as I stated in the beginning, the core experience is still very much here. Everything has been simplified, but it works very well. I kept switching between the PC and 3DS versions just to see how big of a difference it would be, but I was surprised that the 3DS version held up so well. Even the controls felt fine. For younger players, or those who just want a casual, laidback experience on their 3DS, Farming Simulator 18 is actually a pretty solid buy.