The Farming Simulator franchise first came to my attention way back in 2016 when my partner came across Farming Simulator 15 while perusing an Xbox sale. Despite being relatively new to consoles way back when, Farming Simulator 15 was actually the fifth title in the series at the time of its release. By that point, the series had already amassed quite a following among sim fans and modders alike.
Since then, my partner and I have and continued to look forward to each new Farming Simulator title, often released every two years. Farming Simulator has continued to grow and evolve by adding new agricultural industries and livestock while also securing licensing rights to feature big name equipment brands. Farming Simulator 22 for the Xbox Series X, Series S, Xbox One, and PC easily features some of the biggest mechanical and technical advances for the franchise to date, but it still manages to retain a level of jank that has continued to haunt the series.
Bottom line: Designed with the hardcore simmer in mind, Farming Simulator 22 continues to build upon the foundation of previous games in the franchise to provide a realistic open world where players can put their green thumbs to the test in a variety of agricultural industries.
- New seasonal mechanic
- New maps, equipment, and crops
- Online multiplayer
- Controller mapping is a mess
- Everything has a waxy sheen to it
- Not beginner friendly
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by GIANTS Software GmbH. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Farming Simulator 22: What you'll like
From its transparent titling scheme to the very mechanics it employs, it feels safe to say that Farming Simulator is not a game that tries to hide what it is. After a player creates their character and chooses from three new maps, they'll find themselves left to their own devices with a plot of digital farmland. There are three difficulties from which to choose, with the easiest giving players a little bit of a head start with land and equipment for free, whereas higher difficulties require more advanced players to do odd jobs for the resident NPCs to save up to start their humble homestead from nothing.
|Category||Farming Simulator 22|
|Title||Farming Simulator 22|
|Developer||GIANTS Software GmbH|
|Publisher||GIANTS Software GmbH|
|Xbox version||Xbox Series X|
|Play time||40 hours|
|Players||Singleplayer, online multiplayer|
|Xbox Game Pass||No|
Much like the previous Farming Simulator titles, Farming Simulator 22 features recognizable tools and equipment from name brands such as John Deere and Massey Ferguson that players can purchase and use for their own agricultural pursuits. There are more than 400 machines available for players to test out on their farms, with different equipment being best suited for specific crops or livestock products.
As impressive as that is, however, the best feature found in Farming Simulator 22 is the new seasonal mechanic. Past farming simulator titles were in a state of perpetual summer, without any weather mechanics having a bearing on whether your crops grew well. For a simulator, it was lackluster that you could simply plant what you wanted when you wanted without a thought.
That's gone out the window, however, as players are now forced to consider the seasonal changes and how the weather will affect their farms. The requirement to plant and harvest crops in specific seasons is a nice new challenge that adds a much-needed element of strategy to Farming Simulator 22.
Farming Simulator 22: What you won't like
Upon first launching Farming Simulator 22, players are greeted with an incredibly detailed cinematic of an older gentleman preaching the values of waking up early and working hard on the farm juxtaposed alongside of scenes of a young woman being a bit irresponsible right up until the point where she finds her corn crop rotting in the field. Having learned her lesson the hard way, she then pulls herself up by her bootstraps to become a better farmer (along with some help from her father, the narrator).
If that sounds like an intriguing campaign narrative, then I'm sorry to tell you now that the opening cutscene is the beginning and end of anything that resembles a story in Farming Simulator 22. There's nothing wrong with making your own fun out of a game, to be fair. However, the lack of any guidance from a campaign can make it difficult for new players to find their footing with Farming Simulator.
Nothing really prepares you for what equipment you should purchase prior to growing sorghum for the first time, for example. There is a rudimentary tutorial in the beginning, but it does little more than explain how to connect your tractor to a plow. Don't be surprised if you find yourself with a field full of grapes without the proper equipment to harvest them in a timely manner.
When it comes to actually managing the equipment, Farming Simulator's age-old jankiness continues to be an issue. Button mapping of actions to the controller are overly complicated, often requiring the user to hold LB as a replacement for a PC's shift key to allow for different tasks to be mapped to the same button. When attempting a task like lowering your equipment to the proper height or simply connecting it to your tractor, the player has only small visual nuances to know whether the action was done correctly.
Farming Simulator 22: Should you play it?
Farming Simulator 22 fills a very specific niche. One where the player base is particularly interested in a more realistic heavy farming experience. That is both a blessing and a curse for the game, as it centers itself around catering toward players already comfortable with the simulator experience at the expense of being difficult to approach for new players.
That's not to say if you're looking to try a farming simulator for the first time that you should discount Farming Simulator 22, however. The learning curve may be steep for newcomers, but there are elements like cooperative online multiplayer that make it viable for a new player to jump in with a more experienced friend who is willing to teach the basics. There is also a robust modding community for the franchise, so players who don't want the hassle of trying to build a farm from scratch can find community-made add-ons for countless game changes, including easy money or modified equipment.
Despite Farming Simulator 22's quirks, it is still one of the best options available for this underserved niche. The freedom to experience the game however you so choose coupled with the continued improvements each game in the series makes over its predecessor continues to make it a worthwhile experience for hardcore strategy and simulator fans.
Bottom line: Farming Simulator 22 manages to scratch the itch of any hardcore simulator fan looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for some time in an idyllic rural setting where they can raise livestock and produce. The mechanics can be a little convoluted for new players, but online multiplayer and a robust modding community can help anybody become an experienced farmhand.
Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.
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