Plastic Guitar Hero instruments, flight simulator joysticks, dance mats — some games demand their own peripheral to really bring you closer to the action. Earlier today, it was announced that another hit series was about to get its own controller, as Mad Catz subsidiary Saitek is hard at work designing hardware to bring the agricultural action of Farming Simulator to never before seen levels of immersion.
Once a niche title catering largely to European audiences, Farming Simulator has become a bona fide worldwide hit over the past couple of years. Many players try the game for a joke, only to find that it's actually a rather compelling experience. It's a phenomenon that we've seen in the Euro Truck Simulator series, and it's been parodied by titles like Goat Simulator and Surgeon Simulator 2013.
There's an inherent irony to playing these games recreationally while truck drivers and farmers perform these tasks to make a living, but once these simulators get their hooks in you, it can be an entirely engrossing experience. Suddenly, the simulation needs to be more complete — and that's where Saitek's new controller comes in.
While players have been able to make do with steering wheels and custom set-ups, it looks like the planned controller will deliver a far more refined experience for virtual farmers. Saitek are working closely with developers GIANTS Software to make sure the peripheral is absolutely perfect for the game's dedicated fanbase.
The all-important steering wheel offers 900° of turning potential, as well as a wheel turning knob that is purported to be 'just like the real thing.' A vehicle side panel then offers a control stick to operate vehicle attachments and, based on in-development design drawings, more than twenty programmable buttons and toggles to further customize your control system.
If you're not interested in the game, the news of this controller likely won't do much to convince you that it's not just a tedious virtual version of farmyard busywork. However, this controller has the potential to add yet more depth to Farming Simulator for its fans — it's perhaps comparable to the level of control an expert fighting game player can get from an arcade stick compared to a standard controller.
While flight might have been ditched somewhat for farming, the PC simulator market goes from strength to strength. It makes you wonder how realistic Farming Simulator might get; with this new hardware combined with an Oculus Rift and a breeze-simulating desk fan all working in unison, the life of a farmer could be replicated perfectly — aside from the muddy boots and the smell of livestock, of course.
Farming Simulator is available now on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox On,m Nintendo 3DS and mobile devices. Fans can register their interest in this new, likely PC-exclusive, hardware on the Saitek web site.