Giants Software's Farming Simulator series has been around for many years now and its latest entry, Farming Simulator 22, continues to expand its vast arsenal of equipment and introduces seasons for the first time. While a career mode and three maps are included, the real focus of the title continues to be multiplayer and mod support. Cross-play across consoles, PC, and Stadia is included, and farming with friends is indeed the best way to play Farming Simulator 22.
It's a brand-new day
If you're familiar with the Farming Simulator series, then not much has changed. Your goal is to expand your farm by purchasing land, cultivating it with an ever-growing variety of crops, harvest your bounty, and turn it into cash by selling it to the local economy. At launch, you have the choice of three map locations, including the new Elmcreek location in the US and Haut-Beyleron in France. The third map is an update of the Farming Simulator 17 location, Erlengrat. Along with several new crops and a variety of additional equipment brands, Farming Simulator 22 introduces seasons. Not only will you have to contend with snow in the winter months, but each crop is now tied to a particular growth and harvest time of the year. This means that you have to put a bit more forethought into what to plant and when. It also adds another level of realism to what is already a difficult industry to succeed in.
Farming Simulator 22's campaign mode offers three difficult levels that really just change the amount of start land and money you get. On the easy setting, you start with a farm and several plots of land and equipment. It's enough to get started, but you'll quickly find yourself in need of cash to expand or get bored watching the fields grow. When you run out of money, you have the choice of taking on contracts for other farmers that range from "fertilize this field" to "harvest this other field." None of the contracts are particularly interesting, nor do they pay well. In fact, they pay hardly anything worth your time, and at launch, there were numerous bugs found related to contracts. Your other option is to borrow money from the bank at a pace of $5,000 per button click, which is both tedious and annoying when you'll pretty much always need a few hundred grand to get anything done. I will give credit to Giants Software for properly emulating the challenges of making money as a farmer.
Please don't name the livestock
If the large variety of seeds and farming equipment don't hold your attention, you can spend time raising livestock. Anything from chickens to pigs, horses, and even bees can be cultivated in Farming Simulator 22. Combine this with a reasonably advanced landscape and building interface, would-be farmers can spend quite a bit of time - and money - on constructing the farm of their dreams. Livestock don't just walk around grazing the fields, however. They need to be looked after, which means trips to the stores to buy feed, or working the production of it into your own farm plots. The interaction between livestock and your farming strategy adds depth and purpose to the game, which is much appreciated. Just don't get too attached to your animals and give them names, because sooner or later, they will need to help contribute to your farm's bottom line. Typically, this means a trip to the local factory for processing.
Outside the standard crops and typical livestock you'll see on everyday farms, players can also branch out into the field of logging, create their own wineries, and even take on the snow removal industry in the winter. Generally, all this requires early mornings and a lot of hard work to be put in. Fortunately, the game continues to be quite straight-forward in its mechanics and controls. While Farming Simulator 22 supports a variety of wheels and accessories, we found it easiest to play with a game controller or mouse and keyboard. Anyone familiar with the series will find the controls largely unchanged, for better or for worse. The default control settings are quite cumbersome, requiring tweaks to sensitivity in order to avoid some rather ridiculous driving accidents. Newcomers will want to ensure they start on the easy mode setting in order to take advantage of the tutorials. Unfortunately, this ties the starting scenario to the tutorials, meaning that if you want the help getting started, you'll also have to settle for the least amount of starting money. Most farmers will likely quit that mode immediately in order to build their farm up from scratch and decide how and where to spend their dollars.
Do you have any more of them subsidies?
Mastering the supply chain of farm to table is one of the most complex tasks in Farming Simulator 22. The menus provide a lot of details about what items are most desired by what parts of the local industry and at what part of the year. Plant the wrong crop at the wrong time, and you'll end up losing money, something no farmer can afford. On the default speed settings, it takes quite a while to see any potential profits from your farm, especially in its early stages. This leaves players tempted to borrow large amounts of cash, either via legitimate in-game means or via outside cheat codes. It's hard to blame those looking for a shortcut, considering the vast amount of tempting equipment. It's frankly a lot more fun to jump from a harvester to a logging machine and back to a truck transporting cattle than just puttering around on a lowly tractor weeding your neighbor's fields for a couple of hundred bucks.
If you choose not to borrow or cheat, then time is the only resource left available. Given enough of that, you'll find that there is a great amount of variety in gameplay in Farming Simulator 22. Fortunately, the scenery is gorgeous, especially the sunrises and sunsets, making it worthwhile to get up early. Each of the maps is carefully detailed and includes lots of cute accessories and details, begging you to stop and smell the roses. The equipment and tools are high fidelity as well, with each piece of the machinery faithfully resembling its real-world counterpart. Animations are generally smooth, especially on the farming tools that don't work at high speeds. On the flip side, racing down the road in a pickup truck felt strange, and it's almost preferable to just mosey on by in a tractor instead.
All hands on deck
This struggle to survive as a farmer is one of the biggest reasons to jump into a multiplayer game with your friends. Farming Simulator 22 supports both quick drop-in sessions and dedicated servers. With the newly added cross-play functionality, your pool of potential farm hands has also grown. Connectivity is mostly stable, with only minor lag seen occasionally. It certainly is more fun working the fields in unison with friends, and it also allows you to get a lot more done. Sure, you can hire AI workers in solo play, but it's just not the same.
If you're serious about farming, setting up a dedicated server is a great way to allow people to come and go as they please and contribute to the growth of your farm around the clock. But Farming Simulator 22 also provides for more casual get-togethers by simply letting you invite your friends. The multiplayer settings are extensive enough to allow you to configure permissions and customize the experience as you wish.
Farming Simulator 22 shines the most when it is enjoyed with friends and expanded via mods. Giants Software has made this process easy by implementing add-ons directly into the game, allowing everyone regardless of platform to extend and prolong their farming enjoyment. If you're able to find a way to make a profit, or at least enjoy the struggle to get there, then Farming Simulator 22 should easily find a spot at the top of your game library.
This review is based on a PC code provided by the publisher. Farming Simulator 22 is available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Stadia.
Farming Simulator 22
- Large variety of vehicles, tools, and equipment
- Ability to customize and terraform your farm
- Farming with friends is a lot of fun
- Great built-in mod support
- Very difficult to make money
- Controls can be cumbersome
- Steep learning curve