The Farming Simulator games are a very odd duck indeed. If you asked most gamers whether they would play a game in which the only objective is to farm – to grow crops, sell them, make a profit, and upgrade your equipment to more efficiently farm crops – you’d probably get some very funny looks and a few laughs. Be that as it may, the Farming Simulator games rule the roost when it comes to simulators, and the existence of Farming Simulator 22 proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
If you’re not sure what the fuss is all about with these games, they are exactly what they sound like: farming simulators. You are a farmer, and it’s your job to cultivate and manage the best farm you possibly can. That means managing all aspects of the farming experience; your crops, vehicles, farmhouses, and everything else you can imagine when it comes to running an agricultural operation. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, then you may as well turn back right now.
That’s probably the first thing to say about Farming Simulator 22: it is an uncompromising experience. There is a beginner tutorial to help you get to grips with the core systems and concepts of the game, but it’s not going to carry you much further than an introduction. Beyond that, you’re on your own, and it’s up to you to figure out how to make money from your farm and how to run it as efficiently as you can. This, as you can imagine, is a daunting task.
It’s also going to take you a very, very long time to get a fully-functioning farm in Farming Simulator 22. Make no mistake: this is not an arcade game. It’s a sim for those who want to work for their dividends. You can take out loans to alleviate some of your money worries, but in order to build something functional, you’re going to need a lot more than those loans provide. This means that the first fifteen hours or so in Farming Simulator 22 are an absolute grind.
Of course, if you’re a fan of this series, that’s probably part of what you like about it. When the cash does finally start rolling in, it’s all the more satisfying given the amount of work you’ve put into it. There’s certainly an excitement to watching your cash counter roll into the green after hours of toil; we can only imagine it matches the rough-hewn satisfaction of an actual farmer who gets to take home their pay after a long day. We did say these were unique games.
So, how does Farming Simulator 22 compare to previous games? Well, there’s been something of a visual overhaul. We played the PS4 version, which was unfortunately beset with performance and visual bugs, but when it worked, it worked pretty well. This is the best Farming Simulator has looked yet, and the landscape is full of tiny touches that make everything feel just that little bit more realistic. There is the kind of corner-cutting janky feel you might expect from the series, but it’s been scaled back in favour of an attempt at a more grandiose feel.
The big new feature in Farming Simulator 22 is the implementation of supply chains. For the first time in the series, it’s not just about your farm; it’s also about what the crops you harvest are going to become. Now, you can turn your olives into oil, your wheat into bread, and your fruit into juice. What you do with those products is up to you; do you want to start your very own Italian-style pizza joint? Perhaps make some chocolate to compete with the Swiss artisans?
To match this new mechanic, Farming Simulator 22 now also features changing seasons, a feature we can only imagine is going to be controversial among the community. It’s been available as a mod for the series for some time, but now it’s been officially implemented (although you can still turn it off if you want). For some, this will bring an added layer of depth and complexity. For others, it represents yet another absurdity in a long list of “why would you want to play that?” questions.
If you’re into your farming, you’ll probably get a lot of joy out of spotting the licensed stuff alone. There’s lots to see, most of which consists of licensed farming brands from the real world. This adds a nice layer of authenticity to the game and makes it feel a little more realistic, although the hardcore sim elements were already pulling their weight in doing that. Farming Simulator 22 is very much a game that wants to give you the definitive farming experience.
It’s a shame that during our time with the game, it wasn’t quite able to do that. Some of that is the new supply chain system, which we found so complex and arcane that it was entirely off-putting. Farming Simulator 22 does feature mod support, so it’s only a matter of time before the supply chains get modded out, but we don’t think modders should have to shoulder the burden of making a game fun. There’s also the overall shakiness of the PS4 experience, which was buggy and poorly-optimised, making it hard to enjoy the game on a moment-to-moment basis.
If you’re a hardcore Farming Simulator fan, it’s hard to imagine anything in this package will turn you off the experience. Stat-tweakers and simulator enthusiasts will love playing with the new seasons and supply chains, but more casual Farming Simulator players will want to wait for a mod that removes some of the more labyrinthine mechanics from the game. Still, this is the most customisable, the most high-budget, and the most rewarding Farming Simulator has been for some time, even if it is making absolutely no attempt to convert the unfaithful.