Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Preview
Pioneers of Olive Town will not be hitting European and North American markets for a few weeks yet, but thanks to Marvelous Europe, we had the opportunity to take an early look at the English version of the game. The Japanese version has already launched in Asian markets. Pioneers of Olive Town marks the largest departure from the standard series in some time, featuring a lot of the same outstanding farming mechanics, but sprinkling in new mechanics unashamedly borrowed from Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a strong title, the Story of Seasons: Animal Crossing features fall a bit flat in many ways. Let’s dive in!
Marvelous Europe has allowed us to preview the title up until the end of year one in the game.
Let’s talk about what they nailed. Farming, farm expansion, and city expansion are all phenomenal, and you can tell the development team put everything they had behind making sure this was a strong, farming simulation title. Whether it is house expansions, farm expansion, or new tools, moving up in Pioneers of Olive Town is smooth, predictable, and exciting to accomplish. Tool upgrades make enough of a difference level-to-level to really push players to upgrade, and other early game upgrades come cheap enough to really get you started on a good foot.
Farming is also well done, utilizing a new system where a small set of seeds are available in the general store, while others are only added after you find wild crops on your farm and ship them (Onions and Strawberries in Spring, for example). Hunting down these wild crops in order to plant them yourself is great fun, as is finding the multitude of other harvestable items, most of which will aide in cooking down the road.
Expanding farm buildings and getting your first animals is also a welcome improvement. While most previous titles in the series would have local carpenters build you barns and coops, Pioneers of Olive Town has you rehabbing old dilapidated buildings already on the property. It makes a bit more sense – after all, this was once a flourishing farm! Each farm building you rehab will come with a free, tamable animal to put into it, which is a great way to get you started down the animals path in the game. Fix the coop and get a chicken. Fix the barn and get a cow. Fix the stable and get a horse. It’s a great system that almost forces you into animal care, where as in past titles it was pretty easy to ignore, if you wanted to.
It’s not all great, however.
Let’s talk about the Animal Crossing features built into Pioneers of Olive Town. Creating a farm that is completely my own is lots of fun. Putting down paths, marking out pastures with fences, and creating other unique features is lots of fun, and it looks great. Unfortunately, the Makers take away from that aesthetic big time. Here’s my issue. The Makers work on timers, and spit out one of the item you are trying to get. When working to fix the bridge and expand the farm, you need 15 pieces of lumber. One piece of lumber requires 2 hours of in-game time to create, which means 15 pieces will take 30 hours. So you’ll want more than one. And you’ll want more than two. See, when you need to rebuild the barn, you’ll need 10 pieces of Solid Lumber. One piece Solid Lumber take 4 in-game hours to craft, which means it will take 40 hours with one unit. See the issue? So your beautiful farm will be unfortunately blemished by piles of Makers. I understand the thought process behind crafting time, and I can even get behind that to a point. But to make me wait 4 hours to complete a piece of lumber. That’s a bit much, even for me.
The other Animal Crossing feature that falls flat for me is the museum. It’s less interesting to look at than the Animal Crossing one, it’s less fun to manipulate and donate to than the Animal Crossing one, and…well…it’s just not fun. It’s still something that begs to be completed, and so I will, but I’m hoping an update might come that streamlines the donation process. This museum is NOT something you walk in to look at – it’s purely a poor, visual checklist.
Overall, Pioneers of Olive Town has impressed so far, but with so much more to play – getting epic horses, crazy wild animals, unlocking new areas, and so much more – it’s impossible to score this until I’ve been able to play more. Early impressions are good, not great. But there is room to improve! Come back around launch day to read our final thoughts!