FarmVille3 – Animals is the newest member of Zynga’s family of games with farming theme. The whole series started back in 2009 as regular web browser game. This was not only the beginning of this popular game series, but also a significant moment for the whole social and casual game industry. The game was still active until the end of 2020, when was shut down because end of support of Flash Player. Three years later in 2012 Zynga released FarmVille 2. But the first mobile release came in 2014 with FarmVille2 – Country Escape, followed by FarmVille – Tropic Escape in 2016. As the name suggests, the original farm theme was moved more toward building a holiday resort, although the basic mechanics had still common, well-known ground. In 2016 Zynga also released a Match3 game called FarmVille – Harvest Swap.
Finally in 2019 the new FarmVille 3 – Animals was soft launched. It’s almost 2 years ago and the game wasn’t yet fully released. The game is developed in Zynga Helsinki by veterans who’d previously worked on EA’s SimCity BuildIt. So let’s look on the current state of this farming game.
Approach to Core Loop
According to interviews with game’s creators, one of the most important goal for them was to add exciting new features in well known farming gameplay. The right balance between old and new is the key to surprise and entertain their audience.
As you can see on this simplified core loop diagram, except for traditional resource management, the game contains a second big loop focused on Exotic Animals. Together with all other smaller loops and available actions it allows an interesting approach to the length of the player’s session.
You can check-in for a few minutes to make sure your farm is running efficiently, or you can escape into the beautiful world of FarmVille for hours at a time. The time it takes to complete daily tasks on a farm can vary depending on different factors but is generally a second-to-second action, whereas embarking on higher-level strategic tasks such as live in-game events will require more attention, which will therefore require more time.Sonja Ängeslevä in interview for pocketgamer.com
This particular feeling I experienced while playing FarmVille3. And it’s not just about the second-to-second action. It’s also about clear goals, game economy and immersion. And that’s about what I am focusing on in this article.
Farm animals are an important part of the core loop and player’s experience. They aren’t supposed only to produce new resources (eggs, milk), but they are part of the Breed Loop. If you have a couple from the same breed of same animal, they can fall in love and have offspring. This offspring is always a new breed. Parents become elderly, they stop producing goods and have to be sold.
A new Farm Animal can be acquired for fulfilling tasks from the Order Board. But not directly. The first reward for every task are coins. Reward Box containing a new Farm Animal has his own meter, which has to be fulfilled (1 earned coin = 1 point in this meter). Once you have enough points, you will receive a Reward Box and the meter is reseted. But the Order Board contains a Reward Box timer. If you will be able to collect enough points in a predefined time frame, the next reward you will get will have higher rarity.
For every new Farm Animal you will also receive XP points, which are needed for increasing your Farm Level. A higher Farm Level allows you to expand your farm, unlock new features, animals, resources and skins.
Exotic animals live on your farm too, but don’t produce any goods by themselves. Their main purpose is sending them on Quests – the second FarmVille 3 loop. Every quest is simple minigame, where you can win a randomized reward. By leveling your Farm Animals you can increase your chance to succeed. As you progress in the questline, the requirements on your Exotic Animals are slowly increasing.
Exotic animals can’t be breeded. The only way to improve their level is through a training system. In quests you also collect Training Elixir, which serves as a universal leveling resource for all Exotic Animals you own.
The way how to get Exotic Animals is also different from the Farm Animals. Of course you will get some of them for free from various chests. But if you want to have more rare species, you have to buy them for Exotic Tickets. And they can be acquired for fulfilling Boat Shipments.
In addition to animals you will find on the farm also people – Farmhands. Except for their specialization, they have their own character and refined visuals rich for animations. But basically, farmhands are visual representations of 2 types of actions.
The first type is removing obstacles from the farm, for example trees (lumberjack) or bushes (gardener). These actions cost energy and you will always get resources from obstacles. Farmhands have their own Energy, which is replenished by the time. So this energy is limiting the amount of resources, which you can get through them.
The second type of farmhands are operators of production buildings (baker for example). Their role is more representative – the action itself (start of the production) doesn’t cost energy. They walk around the farm, and once you start production, they are ready to operate a bakery or dessert stand.
But all Farmhands are upgradable. If you collect the required amount of Stickers from reward chests, you can train them to a higher level. Higher level allows you to save energy required for action, have extra slots in production buildings etc.
Except Order Board and Shipment FarmVille 3 is providing a broad offer of different kinds of tasks. Some of them can be considered as micro events, some will help you to practice and memorize freshly unlocked resources and production buildings.
Together with all others features, this tasks system allows you to finish at least a single task in every session. On one hand it’s probably impossible to remember all short-term goals from these task lists, but because they are all connected, it’s not necessary. You will often fulfill them unconsciously just by playing.
Currently it’s not surprising that you will meet with the first social feature during the first session. Co-ops (Co-op is the name for “guild” in FarmVille3) allows you to interact with other players, send and receive gifts.
As you progress in the game, you will be able to cooperate with your Co-op in Sky Race event against other Co-ops. But because this event is unlocked from level 20, I wasn’t able to try it yet.
But beside the bigger Sky Race event, there is a smaller social event called Country Fair. The idea is pretty simple and well known from other games. By fulfilling tasks in the game you are receiving special currency. Players who collect more of it than others get reward at the end of the event.
Randomness is deeply integrated into the whole economy. Reward boxes are the most common kind of reward in FarmVille 3. You will come across them everywhere – in the shop, offers, quests, daily quests, subscription or as optional reward for random action. The last mentioned creates an opportunity to spend game’s currency for time-limited boxes.
Although visuality of your farm depends heavily on your animals, there is still an option to improve it with decorations. Single decorations are usually part of Reward Boxes. But as you progress with your Farm Level, you are unlocking an option to purchase a new visual skin for this kind of decoration. For this purpose the game contains two special currencies.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, FarmVille 3 – Animals was soft launched almost two years ago. The high production value of this game is visible on the first sight – from 3D graphics, animations to user friendly UIs. But the best experience for me was the game’s variability. It doesn’t matter if you have just a few minutes, or you want to relax by playing for one hour. You still have what to do. The mix between the game’s features, game economy and theme is something that I can really enjoy in Farmville 3 and I am looking forward to the full release and live-ops.