The Farming Simulator series has been around for years now and is one of the longest-running game franchises in the simulator genre. Sure, most of the games are almost identical to one another with a few updated brands here and there and slightly tweaked mechanics, but the core of the experience is simple – you need to look after a farm and make it thrive. While this sounds like your typical mobile farming game with cute little chicken to look after and vehicles to ride around on, it is far from it. Farming Simulator 22 is a hardcore sim game. This means it doesn’t hold your hand and becoming the town’s best farm isn’t easy.
In a way, this also holds the series back quite a bit as Farming Simulator 22 is the least accessible game in the series to date. A short but limited tutorial tries hard to ease you into the experience but the game is generally boxed off to newcomers. If you don’t know how things work then you are forced to read through boring and badly written tutorials that attempt to explain the ins and outs of farming. These tutorials do a horrible job at explaining the game’s mechanics and even leave out some of the most important features and mechanics.
This is quite sad because if anything, I was fully invested in the idea that I could get into this series. When I first booted it up, the game provided a quick tutorial to explain some of the mechanics that go into running a farm. However, that is what it was – a “quick tutorial”. It literally told me how to drive a tractor, plough the ground and plant some seeds. This equates to about ten percent of the game so everything else is left up to you to discover.
I was forced to sit and watch YouTube videos on how to buy a water tanker to water my fields and then more videos on how to fill up with water so I can try and grow some produce to make money. This is my problem with Farming Simulator 22 across the board. If it only had a proper guide system to help me learn everything on offer, I would have been fully invested in not only this game but perhaps more to come in the future.
Sadly, the whole experience seems to be part of an “exclusive club” made for fans who know what is going on and how to play the game. If you don’t, then get ready for a painful few dozen hours of trying to figure it all out. Not to mention trying to figure it all out while the game is chowing away at your budget, your crops are dying and your reputation along with it.
Perhaps this is what Farming Simulator 22 is all about. The trial and error of learning to farm? Should the game have been more approachable, then perhaps I would have gotten to experience the real grind of a farmer. The fact that the developers just assume you know what to do is pretty sad. Especially for those who are interested in getting into the series.
Farming Simulator 22 is not only a chore to learn but also clunky as all hell. The controller system doesn’t work as well as it should, there are loads of settings to tweak that also are left without explanation on what they do and again, you’re forced to watch videos on YouTube to understand the core systems.
Getting down to it Farming Simulator 22 is all about micro-managing a farm and deciding how to run it to the best of its capabilities. The game does a decent job of making this feel real even if none of it is taught to the player in the first place. If you want to do something, you need to think logically as the tools and vehicles in the game are available to use. New vehicles offer new ways to farm that are faster and more efficient but they cost more so don’t expect to buy the best when you first start out.
There’s also a great option called AI Control that allowed me to assign a job to the AI. For example, I could start harvesting wheat and assign this to an AI with a simple press of a button. The AI would then complete the task for me. It doesn’t make the chore of the game any easier but goes a long way in the later game when you have a lot more happening on the farm at once.
There are also three difficulties to choose from at the start of a new farm. This determines how much money you start with and tunes the game’s economics so you don’t lose money as fast and make more doing the daily tasks. Every sort of farm mechanic is present in Farming Simulator 22 to some degree. You can prepare land for sowing, plant seeds, fertilise them and then harvest it all once it grows.
A big new change in Farming Simulator 22 is the new supply chains. You can build factories and businesses to help produce certain items like bread. However, you’ll need all the items that make these products first. A pasture can also be set up for cows to produce milk, you’ll need the wheat and other goods. The milk also helps produce cheese at the dairy farm. You can even go as far as buying a pizzeria to make pizza. Sorry, no pineapples for that pizza though.
I was surprised to see the depth of the business feature and how many products are available to buy and work with. It also ties into the game’s seasonal feature that restricts certain things from being harvested during certain times of the year. So not only do you need to worry about everything else but you also need to pay attention to the season to fully utilize the products you can sell during the year.
Sadly, the best of Farming Simulator 22 is only seen after dealing with all the horrible tutorials, clunky controls and complicated systems. If you have the patience to get there, then there’s a great fun game to enjoy here. It just takes so damn long to get exciting that you will probably give up before then. That is probably my biggest issue with this game overall. It sorely needs a chill mode where new players can approach the mechanics and gameplay from an accessible angle. This will open but the series to new players. Even after spending dozens of hours in the game, I still don’t enjoy it because it doesn’t want me to. Things take too long to get going and the general gameplay is clearly designed for one type of gamer – those who enjoy the series.
Farming Simulator 22 looks okay. Playing it on the PS5, it runs at 60fps and is smooth but there isn’t much going on here to make the game hardware intensive. Models are low poly, characters are wonky and the three starting cities are flat and don’t have the best draw distance anyway. You could probably put Farming Simulator 22 next to the first game in the series and not tell the difference between the visuals.