After several months of silence on the matter, Giants Software has finally broken the news that a new entry is indeed coming to its hit series. Farming Simulator 22 will be springing to life by the end of the year, and it is carrying a healthy list of new features in tow. Some of the confirmed ones so far include game engine optimizations, more machinery categories, enhanced AI behavior, richer worlds, and seasonal transitions now baked into the core package.
These advancements are a good step forward and already give the impression that the new sim will have a decent amount of new content. But, as someone who’s been a fan for the last five years, there are some important things I would love to see Giants add to really flesh out the Farming Simulator experience.
Considering the fact that this is the longest development cycle for a single entry in the history of the series, it’s no surprise there’s a lot of anticipation from the community. If the new sim turns out to include these wishlist items, it truly would be a notable step forward for the series.
Making water work
What does a plant need to grow? You already know: soil, sunlight, and water. This is preschool knowledge. Yet, Farming Simulator seems to ignore that all-important last part of the process. For all of the effort that goes into simulating the farming process, water has yet to be used in the sim for the sake of helping crops grow. Its only functionality has been for washing machinery and hydrating animals. Thus, it would be neat to see irrigation added to the gameplay experience.
While this would add an additional step, it also adds to the overall realism. You already have to spray fields with lime and fertilizer, so why not water too? On that note, while rain has been included in the series for a while now, it literally does not do anything except prevent crops from being harvested. With seasons now being a part of the experience in the new entry, what if there were random droughts during the summer months and intense showers during the spring that all affect crop yield? All of this adds not only to the realism, but also introduces the need for more strategy, which makes the overall experience more interesting.
On that note, it would also be nice if leaving machines outside in the rain washed the dirt off — just for the sake of more realism.
On the topic of natural phenomena, another cool addition would be the implementation of disasters. Tornadoes, fires, infestations, these are some of the natural disasters that have a severely adverse effect on farms in real life. Thus, why not add a few to Farming Simulator? While tornadoes may be a bit of a stretch, fires and infestations should theoretically be easier to implement. This can tie directly to the new seasons mechanic, as both situations only tend to occur at specific times of the year.
What if players now have to use pesticides on their farms to guard against insects? After all, weeds were added in the previous entry, resulting in the addition of herbicide. In other words, the systems are already in place. Similarly, fires would be put out with water and new farm tools could be created for fire-fighting.
I recently started playing SnowRunner again, and I must say its driving mechanics remain unmatched. From both a visual and gameplay standpoint, the struggle of trudging through tough terrain in big machines is well represented. On that note, tractors and combines have massive tires for a reason: to take on that tough terrain. However, Farming Simulator’s physics system doesn’t really differentiate between driving on dirt versus asphalt. Thus, it would be nice to see this area given more attention.
While a lot of the machines in the sim can be customized with different wheel types—which should offer more performance—they don’t really make a difference. As it stands, only adding a more powerful engine does anything. Thus, anything more is basically only for cosmetics. Since seasons are now included, then the driving mechanics should reflect that. Driving on wet, muddy dirt is far different than snow, which is far different than dry asphalt. It’s 2021 — we have the technology (a line that can be applied to any entry on this wishlist).
Again, driving in Farming Simulator in general is kind of a “meh” experience. When not doing fieldwork, the tractors feel awkwardly twitchy. It’s as if the developers designed the driving system to focus exclusively on field operations and just left it at that. Going beyond 35 mph is basically a death sentence because the sim doesn’t do a great job at handling speed. Vehicles become bars of soap and will flip and tumble like toys.
Thus, an improved physics system shouldn’t just include better terrain simulation. Instead, overall vehicle handling should also feel more natural. Oh, and clipping into objects like gates and trees should be less frequent—just a thought.
Used car salesman school
It’s great that Farming Simulator doesn’t have microtransactions because the in-game economy is already woefully expensive. As other fans such as the venerable Daggerwin have pointed out in the past, buying new machines is a very harsh expense. Making money in the sim takes time (which is to be expected), but it can feel a little defeating to grind for hours to build up enough funds to simply buy just one machine. Plus, there are a bunch of other expenses like buying seeds, fertilizer, animal food, etc.
All of this is to say that buying used vehicles would be a great alternative. After all, players are already able to sell their used machinery for a lower price. This is a great alternative to leasing (which can also be expensive) and can make farm expansion happen just a little faster.
Putting old tractors out to pasture
On a similar note, Farming Simulator 19 introduced vehicle degradation. This results in having to periodically take machines and tools to the workshop, which is a neat feature. The devs can expand on this by allowing these machines to eventually wear out entirely, thus resulting in them being sold for scrap and forcing the player to buy something else.
It would add yet another layer to the realism factor and make the progression of the farm feel more natural. Thus, chances are the garage a player starts with will not be the same in a few months.
Actual artificial intelligence
Saving the best for last, I desperately want to give more tasks to AI workers. For years now, the only thing this feature has accomplished is allowing human players to leave the fieldwork to the AI and hoping the task is actually completed. Fans know that — especially in maps with more curved fields — chances are the AI workers will miss big chunks, assuming they don’t get stuck on a random tree or in a fence. And if there’s an object in front of them, they just can’t seem to figure out how to drive around it.
While Giants has already stated improvements are being made to the system, a full overhaul and expansion is what I really desire to see. The AI needs to be able to handle any field operation with confidence. A more diverse set of tasks would include busy work like delivering a trailer of harvested goods to a selling point and returning, stacking bales/pallets, making manure, etc. Just as the new seasons functionality has gone from being a mod to now a built-in feature, AI operations can do the same.
Mods like Courseplay have given existing players some freedom, but it takes time to learn. And, it’s not available to console players. Thus, having this feature built-in would reduce the headache for every player, and the devs should also be able to make it far more convenient by having a simple pop-up menu for assigning tasks and checking on progress. Having this would make the gameplay experience so much more efficient, especially for folks like myself who usually play alone.
Feature propagation probability?
I honestly don’t know which of these wishlist items have the best chance of coming to fruition. The thing is, Iceflames has done much of what I’ve called for here with the release of Pure Farming 2018 a few years back. Though that title evaporated quickly after launch, it proved a lot could be done in a farming sim. So, Giants can, and should, pick up from there.
Giants has done a great job with its franchise over the years, but if I’m being honest, I feel like the studio has rested on its laurels a bit. As I mentioned in my review of Farming Simulator 19, I felt like — though it was a step in the right direction — it ultimately felt like a mere baby step rather than a big leap. Issues from its own predecessor, both minor and major, were still present, and I considered there to still be a lot of room for improvement.
When Farming Simulator 22 launches at the end of the year, that will make three years since the last entry on PC and consoles. With that factor to consider, I really want to see Giants aim higher than ever before. This is the biggest title in the farming sim genre, so let the features reflect that. Will the sim be terrible without anything from my wishlist? Of course not. But, as a fan, I would like to see this franchise finally become a fully blooming meadow rather than just a simple flower patch.