PUBLISHER: Focus Home Interactive
DEVELOPER: GIANTS Software
RELEASED: November 13th, 2017
Disclaimer: A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes on PC.
It’s been a year since Farming Simulator 17 launched. The game has grown quite a bit since then, mostly due to a massive modding community. Now, GIANTS Software itself has dived back into the game to bring us a whole new map, along with new machinery and even a new crop. So, is the ‘Platinum Expansion’ of Farming Simulator 17 worth it?
The main new feature offered by the Platinum Expansion is the all-new South American map: Estancia Lapacho. This map is quite different from the original two: Goldcrest Valley (based on the USA) and Sosnovka (based on Russia). From personal experience, I can say that the new Estancia Lapacho map is a great representation of South America. I’ve actually been down here on the continent for over a year now, primarily in Ecuador. As I write this review, I’m currently visiting Peru. I’ve seen quite a bit of farmland in both countries, and Estancia Lapacho really does look like South America. Its unique red soil, lush terrain, and beautiful mountain ranges are all very much South American. Not to mention the new crop this DLC adds to the game is also a big deal in South America: sugarcane.
If you’ve never had a sugarcane before, do try it. It’s like a big bamboo stick, except it’s incredibly sweet (hence the name)! Coca-Cola even uses it in their drinks instead of the regular sugar; so, technically, the soda is healthier, if that’s even possible. Anyway, I’m getting off track. Let’s talk about the in-game sugarcane.
The new map throws you right into planting sugarcane, as there’s a tractor and sugarcane seeder already parked in front one of the three fields you start off with on your Latin farm estate (more on this later). The thing about the sugarcane seeder is that it’s incredibly slow. There really isn’t much speed in Farming Simulator at all, but this process is especially long. In fact, the whole sugarcane process is very slow. The actual seeding takes a long time because the seeder is only a single row. The field that its parked in front of isn’t particularly big, but it still takes a long time to seed the whole thing because of the seeders limited working width. As a result, it’d be best to just assign a worker to it right off the bat and work on the other fields. Even after seeding is complete, you’ll have to wait several in-game days for the sugarcane to actually grow. You can honestly seed, fertilize, and harvest other crops on your two other fields at least once or twice before the sugarcane is ready. But, when it’s finally ready, that’s when the benefits start rolling in (albeit with a few caveats).
Sugarcane is very profitable but also incredibly tedious to work with due to the limitations of the starter machinery.
Harvesting sugarcane is basically just as slow as seeding it. The harvesting process is very different from the other crops due to the harvester being a trailer that you attach to the back of the tractor. I found it cumbersome to try and tow it on my own because it was hard to line it up correctly, so I just assigned a worker to take care of it. You’ll basically have to because the grain trailer gets filled very quickly. You’ll have to constantly stop harvesting to unload it into a tipper. Unlike the other crops, sugarcane cannot be stored in a silo, so you’ll have to either dump it somewhere on your farm or take it to a selling point immediately. As soon as I started harvesting the sugarcane, there was a ‘great demand’ prompt, which increased the selling price. As a result, my first sugarcane harvest became a back-and-forth circus of constantly darting between the field and selling point because as soon as I delivered a load of the sugarcane, the harvester’s grain trailer filled back up. In all, just harvesting that one field took about an hour.
From this description, you can see that sugarcane is an incredibly tedious and time-consuming crop, mostly due to the limitations of the starter equipment. But, the payoff is that you get so much of it out of just one harvest that you can rake in more cash than basically any of the other crops. On top of that, the seeds you planted will automatically regrow after the harvest, so you don’t have to immediately go through the painstaking seeding process again! I’m not sure if that’s how sugarcane actually works in real life, but I’m glad that GIANTS programmed it to behave this way (they probably realized how annoying the process is).
Beyond the sugarcane, the next big new feature is the Estancia Lapacho map itself. I’ve already talked about how it looks like an authentic recreation of South America from a landscape perspective, but that applies your actual farm as well. It looks like our virtual farmer became very rich from their time in the USA and Russia because you get a whole estate in this new map. You spawn just outside of a beautiful Spanish mansion, which you can actually walk into and explore. For some reason, the developers decided to go all out with the modeling and detailing. The house is filled with furniture, all of which is authentically Spanish. The amount of detail for even the most simple things like appliances and kitchen utensils are so silly that it’s amazing. The house even has its own swimming pool and an airplane (that you can’t fly) with its own hangar and a private airstrip. Seriously, how much money did our farmer make in the other maps?! In any case, it’s a beautiful farm, and you can get lost just walking around and exploring, checking out all the little details.
The Estancia Lapacho map is authentically Latin American, and oh so gorgeous.
The rest of the map stays very true to the South American theme. A number of the AI cars that drive around are from decades ago (which is very much the case in South America today). The buildings match the culture’s architecture very well. The scenery has quite a bit of variety to it. The best way to take a tour of the perimeter is by using the train, which makes a return from Goldcrest Valley. Honestly, just assign virtual workers to tend to the fields and have fun driving around. I applaud GIANTS for crafting this map so beautifully.
Finally, the new machinery you get is rather nice. You start the game off with a generous helping of three tractors, a combine harvester, and other tools. Two of the starter tractors are new with the DLC, as well as the harvester which looks so Spanish that it hurts. It matches the rest of the Estancia Lapacho map so perfectly that I’m going to keep it parked up in one of the sheds as an antique. It’s incredibly small so harvesting takes a while, but I’m not letting it go just for the sake of sentimental value.
The other new machinery are mainly related to sugarcane harvesting (which has its own dedicated category in the in-game Store), but there are a few other things like a classic roadster that you can buy to compliment the pickup truck. If you’re going to own a fancy Latin estate, why not get a shiny retro car to go along with it? Good thinking, GIANTS.
— The Bottom Line —
The new map is vast and the new machinery is fun; definitely worth checking out.
Overall, the Platinum Expansion for Farming Simulator 17 is a decent package. At $20, it is rather pricey, but it really is a very nice new map with great new machinery, and of course the new crop. Sugarcane is a pain to work with, but it does help tremendously with the overall goal of making your farm a profit machine. If you’re a fan of the series, then you should already know that this is a game of patience, so prepare for that to be tested when you start off with this map. But, don’t stress too much because the scenery is just too beautiful; definitely go out and explore.