Farming Simulator 22 Review: Bountiful Harvest
It’s an early October morning. I’ve just loaded all of my chicken eggs into a trailer hitched to my old pickup truck, and there's a bit of room left for me to squeeze in a few pallets of tomatoes fresh from the greenhouse. Some hired hands stage vehicles and equipment by the fields in preparation for harvest. The fields will sit for the winter, making way for planting oat and soybeans in the spring.
This is my own little slice of small-town midwest America that is Elm Creek, one of three base maps in the latest edition of agricultural sim Farming Simulator 22.
If you’ve played other games in the series, you’ll be familiar with the game loop above: harvest, field prep, plant, field care, and harvest once again. But unlike previous iterations in the franchise, Farming Simulator 22 has made some improvements with the addition of seasonal crops planning, new equipment options, production chains, and many tweaks to existing systems.
Farming Simulator 22 Review: Bountiful Harvest
Something that's noticeable straight away is how much more vibrant and realistic everything looks in Farming Simulator 22. It's because of the newer engine’s upgrades to lighting, shaders, volumetric shadows, and particle effects systems, the latter of which makes plowing a field of dirt or watching hay load into a forage wagon dazzling. The fields and crops are beautiful, and their 3D effect is more pronounced than before.
While playing on the Haut-Bayleron map, I came across a cornfield that looked so realistic it reminded me of a summer night around the campfire with a cornfield a stone’s throw away. The corn even "waved" as a breeze rolled by, and it's these appreciated moments that really stand out.
Textures as a whole have received a facelift from previous iterations of Farming Simulator and are much more detailed now; it's difficult not to give each of the 100+ vehicles and pieces of equipment an initial walk-around to see their bells and whistles. So much work has gone into making everything look as true-to-life as possible.
The sound design has also seen some especially noticeable improvements, especially if you’re wearing headphones. The first time you fire up the Claas Axion 960 tractor, the powerful diesel engine has a beautiful bassy thrum, and depending on where you are, vehicle sounds are different.
Parking tractors in a garage produces echoes not found in a field, recreating the feeling of truly pulling such machines into an enclosed space. Though, there is a hard limit between open space and closed space sound, where the transition is very abrupt and noticeable.
Even if a bit of work can be done with the sound design in future iterations, Farming Simulator 22 is a step in the right direction, and fans will be able to truly appreciate the time and attention spent improving the immersion in these areas.
The seasons mod in Farming Simulator 19 was a game-changer for many, especially when it came to immersion. In fact, the mod was so popular that Giants has made the mechanic a base feature for Farming Simulator 22.
Seasons gives players some structure and better planning capabilities for planting cycles in FS19, but the way it's implemented in FS22 could use a bit of modification in future updates and patches. Right now, Seasons just isn't that fun. Whereas, for example, the previous mod allows for spring wheat and winter wheat – giving you the ability to sow and harvest a field twice in a year – there is presently no means of doing this in the base FS22 game.
However, there are plenty of newly added crops to plant, raise, and harvest. Olives, grapes, sorghum, and greenhouse crops give Farming Simulator 22 more options than ever and players plenty of new possibilities. Not only are some of these crops fun to play with, but they add new strategies to the game and look great doing it.
Olives have been a personal favorite; I love how the rows look lined up (even if planting them can be a pain since fields aren’t sown like other crops but placed via the construction menu). Aside from the different methods of field care for olives, the actual harvesting looks amazing and really punctuates how real-life farmers use the same tech to harvest the crop.
Between crop care, there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Farming Simulator 22.
My farm is set up primarily as a dairy farm (with chickens), so many of my crops are geared around keeping them fed and happy. I then use the newly added production chain system to refine milk and eggs into cheese and butter that can be further used to make things like cake in the bakery production building or sold at one of the many selling points.
Production chains, also a previously popular mod, is a great addition that adds a layer of planning and logistics. Gone are the days of growing massive fields of soybeans — a known bestseller in previous titles — to maximize income. Production chains give all crops a chance to shine and for players to have loftier goals for their farms. It takes time, planning, and money to get into production chains, but it’s an enjoyable system that doesn't veer into tedium.
Another addition that's addressed the more tedious pace of previous entries comes by way of improved A.I. helpers. These farmhands can be hired to assist with your farm choring, and unlike helpers before, who could only manage basic fieldwork tasks like plowing, planting, and harvesting, helpers in Farming Simulator 22 can do much more.
Now you can hire them to do that and deliver goods to production facilities, sell goods, and transport vehicles and equipment around the map. While you’re still going to have to load some things yourself, the extra help is great if you’re not playing the game's 16-player co-op mode.
Farming Simulator 22 Review — The Bottom Line
- Awesome visuals
- Large, beautiful maps
- Active modding community
- Slight audio bugs
- Seasons (optional) could use better balancing
Farming Simulator 22 is a great game to relax with. You can go total easy-mode and play it casually or turn on all of the optional systems to have a more authentic and challenging experience. As far as the series as a whole goes, this is the best game to date; I’m looking forward to the upcoming DLCs and many (many) more hours on the farm.
I am also looking forward to what Giants does with community feedback in the coming months to improve on the Farming Simulator 22's systems and mechanics. I can hardly wait to see the amazing work I know the modding community is going to put out over the months to come. There are plenty more haversts to come!
[Note: Giants Software provided the copy of Farming Simulator used for this review.]