The farming simulator market is huge. No scrap that, it’s massive. Since the very first Farming Simulator released, the opportunity to plow fields and sell crops is something that gamers have flocked to. There have even been stories of real-life farmers who, after a hard day of grafting, have come home to spend even more hours in the virtual worlds. But over the years, the genre has expanded, as we’ve been given the chance to work in teams, to cooperatively farm and to even spend time cheering our favourite eSports stars on. The question that is on everyone’s lips though is whether all that should be taken in again with Farming Simulator 22.
Farming Simulator 22 opens with a huge cinematic, one that is narrated by a grizzled American farmer talking about the highs and lows of the job. At the same time, a young female farmer is experiencing all this as he narrates. It’s his daughter and it’s this whole sequence which gets you right in the mood for some farming action. From there, what plays out is up to you.
Let us start by talking about the Career mode first of all. When you decide on the look of your farmer and what map (out of three) you want to start in, you are then given a tutorial; one that takes just under an hour to run, as it explains the basics of the gameplay. Here you are shown how to plow, reap and sow your fields with some lovely machines, and even how you can then pay workers to do it all for you when you get tired of the graft. You are also shown how to sell crops, store items, and make more money. The thing is, after that hour the game instantly stops holding your hand and throws you off into the wilderness. For that reason, if you’re completely new to the genre, Farming Simulator 22 might just be a little off-putting, if only as there is so much to learn.
If you have played a Farming Simulator game previously though, everything about Farming Simulator 22 just feels a bit more solid than before. Driving and controlling the tractors while working on the fields is much more responsive, easy to control, and massively less annoying. The new features on offer are well implemented throughout too, with the introduction of weather seasons being the most interesting addition. Here the game takes you through the four seasons, limiting your work to certain crops in those periods. You can switch this new feature off of course, but there is something intriguing about the new structure, one that gives a new element to the planning schedule of a farmer. It’s certainly different, but very enjoyable. This is bound to play into the hands of those who are looking to sink hours upon hours into FS22, as when winter hits, it’s there for a while. Be prepared for the long haul.
In those winter months, one of the other new features that works brilliantly is that of supply chains. Here you are put in control of entire processes, going from farm to fork pretty much. For example, you can turn milk from cows into cheese, before selling that to a pizza shop. There are many different options in the supply chain demands, but be warned they will take time to develop, with costs and time associated. And when you start to worry about fulfilling orders, taking out bank loans, a whole different aspect arrives in game, one that is an original and worthwhile addition.
Or course there is all the usual other management bits to concern yourself about too – like taking care of the animals, involving yourself in beekeeping, forestry work, or just building out your farm. You can take jobs from other farmers in the region too; something which is ever helpful if you need a bit of extra cash as well. There is also cooperative multiplayer to get your teeth into, running cross-platform which is a very good thing. It’s easy to set up a private server and play together for that agriculture utopia you’ve always dreamed of.
Farming Simulator had a graphical upgrade with Farming Simulator 19, but FS22 feels like it has had an extra boost as well, with great lighting and crisp edges to everything on show. I think the menus and UI are excellent, superbly designed, which in turn makes them easy to use and translate. There are hundreds of machines in the game too and as usual, they are as accurate visually as you’re going to get; something which is Farming Simulator’s hallmark and bread and butter. This time around there are tons of clothes you can buy for your farmer as well, with recognisable brands should you so wish to be the best-dressed farmer of 2022. The weather effects are great as well, added to with the new seasons which make for fuller visual delights.
Sound-wise and I believe Farming Simulator 22 feels a lot less one-note than before, especially in terms of the vehicles, but my farming time is generally actioned with music from Spotify playing.
Farming Simulator 22 is full of detail. The career mode demands you to invest hours of your life into slowly building up your farm, surviving the seasons, paying off loans, and making sure you can save up towards a purchase of a shiny new machine or staff that will make your life that whole lot easier. Once you get going, things are great, but I do believe that FS22 needs to consider the opening moments a bit more, especially for those newcomers to the franchise in mind. A longer tutorial might be of use, or some more hand-holding with objective markers to run a couple of hours in. Without that, things could just get too detailed for many.
Farming Simulator as a franchise just gets better with every new release and that’s the case with Farming Simulator 22. The purists and experts might argue that this hasn’t gone far enough, adding in just a few new features, but with cross-play multiplayer, the brilliant seasonal farming, and supply chains coming to console, there is certainly enough to keep those winter evenings flying by.
Farming Simulator 22 is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store
Where are the skips for the hook loader?