If you had told me five years ago that Giants Software’s Farming Simulator would be such a massive hit that it would spawn a rather unique eSports league, I probably would’ve laughed at you and said, “Well, by reckon.” Now, here we are, and, well, by reckoning. Farming Simulator has taken over the world with its simple but involving chores and its truly devoted experience. Farming Simulator 22, boys and girls, continues the status quo.
Not Just the Same Old Game
Over the years, the developer has really gone all out to “perfect” creating a virtual farming experience. It’s not to everyone’s taste. However, those that have taken the chance to dive in have come away learning a thing or two about what it takes to maintain a farm.
Now, this isn’t just a matter of “well, I better plant crops here and there.” Investments need to be made, items need to be maintained, and you have to keep a close eye and balance on things. Otherwise…well, you could have a disaster on your hands that makes Animal Farm look like paradise.
Sure, you still have the basic chores around the farm to maintain. There is planting new crops, fertilizing in certain areas, and making sure everything’s proper for incoming changes in the weather, but it’s the side duties that really make the Farming Simulator experience that much more compelling. For example, there is taking up secondary contracts where you earn money from other farmers and doing something you’d never really expect – like a little something called animal husbandry. (Relax, it’s not what you think.)
Perhaps the biggest thing is setting up production on your farm. It’s not just a matter of “well, it’s a farm, there it is,” but it is creating something where you can actually build something in return. That means plunking down the right amount of cash to make certain products, be it cocoa or whatever you think would work better.
It’s a rewarding experience for those that put their time into it. What’s more, it’s educational in a sense. You might actually learn a thing or two about business from Farming Simulator 22, as it plays out its mechanics with nearly dead-on accuracy. Even if you’re starting with something smaller, there are some outstanding fundamentals that you can balance. The more time you put into it, the better off you’ll be.
That’s probably the biggest setback to Farming Simulator 22. It’s no easy feat. Sure, you can turn on a few assists here and there, but you get out of it what you put into it. You don’t see that too often with games. If that’s not your thing and you’re just down to run around and go wild with an assault rifle, this is not your game. Now, if it’s something more educative you’re after – like how to balance farmhands and the ins and outs of a daily business – you might just find this to be your forte. A lot of other people certainly did, hence why the series keeps growing at an astronomical rate.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a fun Farming Simulator if you didn’t actually get to perform the duties at hand. What’s great about the game is how you can jump in and really feel like you’re making an impact with some of the smaller things around the farm. Sure, managing everything is cool and all, but what’s the point of a farming simulator if you can’t actually, uh, farm?
The controls for operating vehicles are surprisingly balanced here. Each vehicle feels like you’d handle one in real life (not that we’ve ever driven a plow, but this feels quite a bit like how one would control in real life), thanks to excellent physics across each vehicle. You won’t tear ass across the road as you would with, say, one of Forza Horizon 5’s sweet rides, but you’ll see the work that you put into pushing one around.
Even deliveries have their rewards as well, as you balance loads and eventually make your way around the farm to get things done. This adds to your accomplishments and gives you that utmost feeling that, damn it, you’re getting something done. Just don’t go too wild, and, for crying out loud, don’t run over your animals. We’re talking precious resources there, and they aren’t worth taking out for a mere chuckle or two. (In the end, they might have the last laugh when it comes to cost deficiency.)
The weather conditions play a surprising part in Farming Simulator 22 as well. It’s here that you’ll need to be careful maintaining your land, and even attach a plow to your vehicle so you can assure that roads aren’t too far out of control. That may sound boring for some (in which case, why are you reading this?), but others will get a kick out of it, as it helps them learn just what it takes to maintain a farm over seasons.
Looking Great On PlayStation 5
Now, just to be clear, you likely won’t confuse Farming Simulator 22 with something far more dazzling like, say, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. A showcase PS5 game this is not. However, Giants has really gone out of their way to make the experience look smoother than ever before.
The lands themselves are pretty great, showing you the wide-open range of your farm and the space you’re covering as you go from point to point, managing everything. The vehicles look pretty authentic compared to their real-life counterparts (based on what we’ve seen in our road travels, anyway) and the other little bits and pieces are very, well, farm-like, to say the least.
There are also smaller things to appreciate, such as the particle effects with the smaller grains on the farms (PS5 power, people!) and the neat shadowing over the course of the day, particularly as the sun comes up and goes down. It just looks a lot better, and the PS5 detail shines through, even if this isn’t a top-tier showcase piece. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.
The sound won’t blow you away because, well, it’s a farming simulator and not Dance Dance Revolution, but the sound effects are true to the vehicles and tie into the experience overall. Feel free to blare any Nickelback on a nearby boombox to complete the experience, but don’t forget your farming cap!
Down On the Farm
Again, I reiterate, Farming Simulator 22 isn’t a game for everyone. This isn’t a quickie affair where, bam, you have a Stardew Valley-style farm where everything comes together and you’re living a peaceful life. No, sir, this is work and there’s a lot to balance here to assure everything doesn’t go to pot.
Giants Software continues to know what goes into the experience, and 22 is its most stacked yet. The side duties and general activities are well done, and even driving something slow across a field has a relaxing factor to it that makes you feel a sense of accomplishment. The game looks really great as well, as long as you’re reminded that it’s just a farming simulator and not the next big flash-in-the-pan title.
Giants continues to build this franchise into something worthwhile, and more and more players are getting into it. We’re not sure what the future holds, but we’re definitely on board for it. Though, honestly, someone should explain how eSports works. Maybe there’s a guide that breaks it down…
VIBE Rating: 4/5