The most polished installment of the series by far. Giants has really grown up in the past few years and matured the game from obscure niche title, to commercial success complete with all the hype that go along with a new release.
So what's new compared to FS2013? If I had to describe it one word, REALISM. For starters the graphics and physics engine has been majorly overhauled and they've done a great job with. It runs like a dream, smooth as butter and isn't a huge hardware pig so it's well optimized. The screenshots really don't do it justice but there is a plethora of details added to the game, some very subtle and others not so subtle.
Graphics and lighting are just better. The new tractor physics are really improved. Underpowered machines now really struggle uphill when pulling heavy loads and in some cases will stall or the wheels will just spin. Crash physics aren't so great but I overlook this because the game isn't about crashing. Everything in the gameworld is more detailed:
1. Machines now get dirty and muddy over time and really grungy looking.
2. The machines can now be powerwashed and also get washed during a rainstorm.
3. Machines leave dust trails and tracks on the ground where you've driven.
4. Little bits of cottonwood and allergens floating around in the air.
5. All new and improved particle effects and animations from the chopped straw coming out the back of the harvesters.
6. New particle effects and animations when unloading/loading grain.
7. New realistic looking animations for churning soil when plowing or cultivating fields.
8. All new animations for crop harvesting. Instead of the crops just disappearing when driving the harvester like in FS2013, they're actually animated now and get pulled into the header and swept to the center to the pickup shoot just like IRL.
9. The drivers in the cab now turn the wheel when turning instead of having static arms/hands.
10. Mirrors in the equipment now work and you can see behind you.
11. Vehicle speed can now be fine tuned to your liking in 1mph/kph increments to better match harvester speeds.
12. An in game semi transparent map overlay of the gameworld can be pulled up now while you drive with most of the major locations labeled so you don't have to refer to an external map.
13. Sprayers and fertilizers can now be hired out. Woohoo!!!!
I won't list them all but there are many others. The biggest thing added in terms of mechanics is the addition of forestry and logging. You can now engage in the planting, cutting and chipping of trees and selling them to the lumber mill or wood burning plant for big profit along with a nice selection of wood cutting and processing equipment and implements. Is it fun? Yes but like real life the handling of logs with 6 axis or more machines has a bit of a learning curve and can be frustrating at first, but very satisfying once you get the hang of it.
Finally the interface has also been overhauled and is much cleaner, polished and more modern looking and generally better although I do miss the onscreen PDA which they've done away with.
The core gameplay remains essentially the same and that's a good thing because it works.