“I’m the farmer. I work in the fields all day.” The chorus from Barenaked Ladies’ “Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank” plays on repeat in my head as I sit in front of my computer tending virtual crops in Farming Simulator 19. That’s as close to hard outdoor work as I like to get.
I have a deep respect for those who work the land, tending the fields and keeping an eye on livestock to ensure they don’t turn on us humans. I might not have a firm grasp on what they do, but I appreciate them doing it.
When I was a child I imagined being a farmer, tooling about in my bright red plastic Fisher Price barn, hopping the Lincoln Log fence to harvest our horrible 1970s carpet. Unfortunately, several agricultural-focused school field trips taught me that barns weren’t plastic but splinter-tastic wood, and the fields are all filled with spiders and bees. At least that was my takeaway.
There are no spiders or bees in Farming Simulator 19, the latest entry in Giants Software’s tractor-fest. There are cows of regulation size, and this year they added ride-able horses. The barns are made of polygons, which are much safer than wood and much prettier thanks to a new graphics engine.
It’s a lovely game, and like every previous Farming Simulator, I find myself drawn to it. There’s something about planting virtual seeds, fertilizing virtual fields, harvesting virtual crops and raising virtual animals that seems to me to be much more entertaining than doing any of that in real life.
It helps that the game gives players an extensive map to wander about, both on foot or in a huge variety of vehicles. Instead of farming, I can wander the town on my tractor or even go off-roading.
You don’t even have to farm in the game. You can hire workers to farm for you, putting them in charge of the expensive equipment while you sit in your fake house watching “TV.”
For even more not-farming action, there’s multiplayer, where you can watch other real people doing all of the virtual work. It’s actually a great way to get ideas for how to build and grow your own farm in the game. There are plenty of options for what to grow and how to grow it, and other players are an excellent resource.
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t mind working on a farm. I once visited a friend on a farm and helped her wash a horse, and I recall having a pretty great time. Unfortunately, between being unable to use my legs and my penchant for crashing tractors, Farming Simulator 19 is pretty much the only option. Beats working, I guess.
Farming Simulator 19 is now available on Steam, Xbox One and PS4.