As of the time of publication, it’s November 2020. That means that a new entry in the mainline Farming Simulator franchise should have been released by now, seeing that the latest one launched back in November 2018. But, that hasn’t happened this year. GIANTS Software announced earlier this year that it would instead be supporting the existing sim with various expansions, and the studio has stuck to its word.
Now, we have the Alpine Expansion that contains over 30 pieces of new machinery to work with along with the new Swiss Alps-inspired Erlengrat map. Together, this makes it the most substantial update to Farming Simulator 19 since launch. But, is it really worth the $19.99 USD price tag?
Small is powerful
Starting fresh on a game in the “New Farmer” mode, you’ll find that you immediately get access to a reasonable helping of new content. There are three tractors: the Rigitrack SKE 50, Lindner Linitrac 130, and Buhrer 610S. While they all fall under the same “small tractor” category, they’re pretty different from one another.
The SKE 50 is an all-electric tractor, and there’s even a charging station on the farm. In a world that’s now becoming more familiar with electric vehicles, it’s pretty neat to see such technology being represented in virtual form. The SKE 50 is fun to drive and handles really well, mostly thanks to its AWD capabilities (which all of the new tractors have except the 610S). It can handle the typical workloads that you’d expect from a small tractor, but there’s a bit of a catch— I’ll explain later.
With the Linitrac 130 on-site, you have a slightly more powerful fuel-powered tractor that also comes armed with a front-end loader, bucket, and bale spike sitting next to it in its garage. This will be immediately handy as your farm on the new map already has a functional cow paddock. Thus, you’ll need to use the Linitrac for taking care of the gentle bovines, like dumping grass into the troughs, using bales to mix Total Mix Ration, and other procedures. On that note, you’ll also find a stack of grass and hay bales sitting on the property ready to go.
Finally, the 610S is there to be the workhorse of the starter fleet. For once, it’s actually a retro tractor that’s included in a pack. Its open-cabin design and harsh mechanical engine are strangely satisfying to me. Puttering around on this old boy feels just right and is in direct contrast to the aforementioned tech marvel that is the SKE 50. I made use of it for light tasks like spraying fertilizer and hauling trailers.
What is by far the most peculiar starter machine is the AEBI CC 66. It’s not a tractor, but is actually a mower. But, not a standard one either—it’s the first official push mower in the series. That’s right, your character actually has to use their legs! It’s a bit strange to maneuver such a small machine in a game that’s primarily focused on heavy machinery. With the small size of the CC 66, you’re much better off using it on small lawns and around the main property to keep it neat. As far as trying to cut a field with this thing? Have fun.
Having introduced the mower, I must note that the rest of your starting equipment is all basically focused on two things: lawn care and bailing. You’ll get a mower, tedder, windrower, bailer, forage loading wagon, plow, and two trailers: one for water transport and the other for milk transport. These tools combined with the small tractors and cow paddock show that the devs are at least encouraging you to pay attention to the abundance of grass the map has and use it for cow production. In all my many hours of playing both Farming Simulator 19 and its predecessor, I typically just focused on crop farming, so this was a change for me. It’s a nice experience, and considering that it’s all being done on a beautiful new map, it proved to be a breath of fresh air for me. Of course, I still wanted to do some fieldwork though. Here’s the thing—you don’t own any fields when you first start here in Erlengrat.
You must purchase at least one of the 25 fields in order to get started with crop farming. But considering that you’re not even given a seeder or cultivator when you start, this can quickly become an expensive endeavor. For the sake of time, I used a money mod, but for purists, you’ll really have to deal with cow farming for the first few hours to build up enough money for new equipment. Add the fact that the vast majority of the fields on this map are fairly large if not massive, and you’ll see that the little starter tractors will take a while to get much accomplished with. This is the “catch” I mentioned earlier; every new tractor in the Alpine Farming expansion is a “small tractor.” Even the SKH 75 and 150, the bigger brothers to the electric tractor, are considered to be small. Thus, their limited horsepower going against the large fields and mountainous terrain make heavy fieldwork a challenge. Thus, be prepared to invest in more powerful tractors and larger tools to be truly efficient on this map.
Even having said that, I am still pleased with the new machines here in the Alpine Expansion for Farming Simulator 19. I think it’s because, besides the SKH 75 and 150, they’re all unique and not just more standard tractors. The other two I haven’t mentioned are the AEBI TT 281+ and Unitrac 122 LDrive.
The TT 281+ is an oddly-shaped small tractor that has a motorized front rail that can attach to some mowers. It still features the standard rear adaptor for other tools, however. But the true oddball is the LDrive.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen what I can only describe as a truck-tractor. That’s because it has a truck-like cabin but also sports front and rear adaptors to use any standard equipment. Uniquely, it has some specialized attachments that take the place of traditional equipment. For example, it has its own loading wagon, slurry tank, and manure spreader. It also has a flatbed attachment that can double as a dumping trailer. For such a small machine, it’s extremely versatile. Even if it doesn’t have a lot of horsepower.
No matter which map in Farming Simulator 19 you use any of these new machines on, you’re likely to find them fun. While they’re all still compatible with the same equipment as every other tractor, its their cool designs and AWD-capability that really help them to stand out. But as for life in Erlengrat itself, I have to put a spotlight on it for a moment.
As mentioned, it’s a town nestled in the Swiss Alps, and boy does it have no shame in that. The striking mountains loom tall over every corner of this town, and the roads are often windy and constantly roll up and down hillsides. The architecture in every part of town is best described as being modern with a bit of a historical touch. It all looks immaculate and beautiful, and it’s clear that the townsfolk are upper-middle-class if not flat out rich. That makes sense considering Switzerland is a very wealthy nation, so this is great attention to detail.
I would say this seems to be one of the largest, if not the largest official map in a Farming Simulator title. However, space in this is utilized in a slightly odd way. In terms of actual gameplay and world interaction, all of your business will be mostly regulated to the northwestern portion of the map as that’s where all of the fields, shops, selling points, and dealers are. Moving south, you’ll notice that there’s nothing interactive aside from lots of rolling grass fields and slightly forested areas. So, unless you need more grass for your animals or want to do some logging, you basically don’t have a reason to venture out here unless it’s just to admire the sheer beauty that Erlengrat has to offer.
A small breath of fresh air
Compared to the last time that GIANTS released a map and new machinery as a new expansion (the Platinum DLC for FS17), this is technically a small step down seeing that this doesn’t introduce any new kind of farming. That said, the atmosphere of the new map and the unique, interesting designs of the new tractors make for a decent package. If you’ve been playing Farming Simulator 19 extensively since launch, you’re not going to be in for a huge new experience. But, all of this new natural greenery is a breath of fresh air that’s worth experiencing. You don’t even have to deal with the scent of cow dung.