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Ranch Simulator Early Access Review – Ranching is Hard Work

Ranch Simulator is exactly what the name implies. You own and run on a ranch inside of a simulation. That about sums it up. Oh yeah, almost forgot. Ranching is hard work.

Since the March 2021 Early Access launch the game has seen two major updates from the roadmap posted on Steam. Meat and Dairy production were added in the first and the ability to Build Anywhere in the second. Prior to the second update builds were limited to fixed locations on a simpler map. The update also gave players a larger ranch area, pig breeding, new construction system, painting, hardware store and more. Sadly the train packed up its rails and is currently choo-chooing in pastures unknown.

The game is being developed by the Russian indie developer Toxic Dog who has released other titles such as Catch A Lover and Dummy! With their small development team. Excalibur Games is handling the publishing duties.

Ranch Simulator - Buying Chicken - Early Access Review
Ranch Simulator – Buying Chicken – Early Access Review

Ranching is Hard

I mentioned ranching is hard. I know this for a fact as I grew up as a city kid during the week and a country kid on the weekends and during summer living in Northern California. The work is often hard and done alone. This game does a fairly reasonable job of showcasing that concept in gameplay. From feeding the animals to collecting their products such as milk or eggs there is always some work that needs to be done.

Before you even ask, yes, you even have to clean up their poop. So much poop. Chickens poop a lot. There are also pigs and cows with horses, sheep and goats coming soon. In other words be ready to clean up a lot of animal waste. If only the game allowed me to collect it and sell it as fertilizer for more profit.

In real life a rancher might have some ranch hands. In game, you can have up to four-players in multiplayer co-op. Everyone can pitch in and help with the chores as there is always something build, maintain, feed, clean and so forth.

Ranch Simulator - Hard Work - Early Access Review
Ranch Simulator – Hard Work – Early Access Review

Chop Chop

I want to say two words. Just two. Wood planks. Not sure what I mean? Well, there’s a whole world of trees and you have stuff to build. Think about it, then get to chopping.

Of course you can buy wood planks and blow hard-earned money on the most abundant resource in this remote world. I don’t recommend it while starting out after doing the tutorial it may seem like you have a lot of money, you don’t. I hate to break it to you, but money takes effort to earn.

Almost every single item in the construction book takes wood planks to build. From the most basic of chicken coops to the big red barns along with the troughs, tables, stalls, doors, and fences, all of them require wood planks. Some builds will need concrete and metal which can be bought at the hardware store. To save money and because you will need to clear those trees for land use, you might as well make some wood planks. Be sure to spring for the premium table saw too as the cheaper one is slow.

Ranch Simulator - Bear Hunting - Early Access Review
Ranch Simulator – Bear Hunting – Early Access Review

Say Hello to Mr. Bang Bang

One of the benefits to being in the remote wilderness are all the wild animals. There are a bunch of bucks running around for you to shoot and make some bucks. Some animals, such as bears, pose a danger.

All of these animals can be skinned for their wild meat which then can be sold. The hardware and general store offer a fair price whereas the burger restaurant will sometimes offer a premium price for select items like wild meat or pork so always check there first before selling elsewhere.

Learning to aim and shoot with the six-shooter is the key to hunting. It’s a simple pistol, has a nasty reload time and ammo can be bought at the general store with 24 bullets for $40. As of now deer take two shots and bears four to put down. Simply put, make your shots count.

According to some gameplay information there might be wolves that will attack the ranch. I never saw this event happen and if it did I would have been ready. Additionally some earlier gameplay screenshots show a rifle like gun which I could not find in the game. At some point in the development I really would like to see our weapon choices expanded.

Ranch Simulator - Horses Soon TV Ad - Early Access Review
Ranch Simulator – Horses Soon TV Ad – Early Access Review

It’s An Early Access Game

Jumping into the game, one must understand that this is an early access game. There are some hilarious bugs and some things that feels clunky or incomplete. For example the world is empty and we see signs of things to come with campers at the lake, stores that are not opened, and what looks like a ranger station.

The few bugs I observed pertain to the game’s physics. More than once I was able to do some gravity defying stunts with my vehicle. From attempting a space launch to stacking wood so awkwardly that the logs floated in air when I drove away, the vehicle has been a part of each incident.

Things have already been changing as seen in the previously mentioned update. So far the developer has been on track with the first roadmap they posted on Steam, which is a great sign. However there is always room for improvement.

Early on in the tutorial you are told to demolish the previous home on the ranch. I was a bit disappointed as I would like to have the option to restore this and the other buildings on the ranch. On the topic of construction, I would like to be able to recover some of my materials when tearing down something I just built. Not getting anything back from a fence that I built just minutes prior is rather frustrating and goes against reality. I understand not all materials in real life would be reusable, but there still will be some I can always salvage.

Ranch Simulator - Ranch Name - Early Access Review
Ranch Simulator – Ranch Name – Early Access Review

Current Verdict

Ranch Simulator does a great job of simulating life in extreme rural environments. There are more wild animals than people and each day there is always chores and hard work that must to be done in order to survive. When the ranch is up and fully running there is a certain satisfaction one can have when they are producing chickens, eggs, pigs and more as they reap the rewards of their labor.

FP Score: 8.0/10

Since Ranch Simulator is an early access game, is using the FP Scoring system. The game review scoring system used by Nano Gaming News can be found here. Thank you to Excalibur Games and Toxic Dog for providing a copy of Ranch Simulator for the purpose of this game review.