One of the great virtues of the simulator genre is that of having cleared customs at a videogame level of activities that many struggled (and still struggle) to perceive as games. What can be fun about lawn care? Where’s the fun of paving roads or repairing cars? Yet the sales of these products tell us that not only is there something intrinsically playful even in work activities, but that it can be very satisfying to carry them out behind a screen, with the necessary simplifications. In recent days we have had the opportunity to see a presentation of the new chapter of one of the pioneering series of the new concept simulators, in which the developers have shown us all the innovations introduced, so many and such as to be able to write this dense Farming Simulator 22 preview.
Concept and engine improvements
The concept of Farming Simulator 22 is the same as always: the player must play the role of an agricultural entrepreneur and must be able to earn money with his business, and then expand it. The focus of the gameplay remains the agricultural vehicles, all with official licenses and reproduced in a meticulous way, both visually and in the main features. They are the ones we will work with for the entire game. From this point of view Giants Software has not moved an inch from the line followed so far and that has enjoyed so much success among players all over the world (relative to the genre). The novelties are therefore all aimed at expanding the well-known formula, with the introduction of new crops, new settings and the revision of some aspects of the gameplay.
The presentation began by showing us one of the new ones crops available: a vineyard. Before starting, we were also shown one of the new settings: France, a map with a decidedly European flavor, complete with a medieval village in the background. Our guide then engaged in the grape harvest, made with a Braud 9070L grape harvester, one of the new vehicles, which was shown to us in the smallest details. Here we were introduced to the first of the technical innovations of the game engine: the new particle effects, which make the working of the fields even more realistic.
To get the complete picture, the introduction of the parallax occlusion mapping effect for the terrain must be added, which gives a certain three-dimensionality and depth to the textures, improving for example the rendering of the footprints left by vehicles and the wet effect after rain. or after watering.
Similar treatment was also reserved for sound effects, which now describe each action of the vehicles in a more realistic way and have a greater three-dimensionality, so much so that they really seem to come from within the game world. For example, it is now possible to understand the change in speed of a tractor from the sound of the engine, and the change of gears can be heard in the sounds emitted by the vehicles. These are small tricks that, however, all together make the difference and, at least, show the care taken by the developers in improving their creature from year to year. After all, finishing is sometimes more complicated than redoing from scratch.
Production chains and seasonal cycles
The most important innovations introduced at the level of gameplay it is certainly the production chains and seasonal cycles, which do not revolutionize but add complexity to the economic system of the game, as well as give it greater graphic variety.
the production chains they are nothing more than a complete overhaul of the economic system. In the old Farming Simulators, the management of products was really elementary: you cultivated, harvested and sold the crops to make money. In Farming Simulator 22 it will instead be possible to work the harvest to obtain products to be sold directly to shops and supermarkets. The example of a production chain that was shown to us started from the vineyard just harvested: instead of selling the grapes we were shown how it is possible to produce wine, label it and send it for distribution. Honestly, from what we have seen we have not been able to get a precise idea of the level of complexity of the production chains, that is to say how much they will force the player to really fight with the market. We will see in the final version if they will be decisive ..
I seasonal cycles they are just what they claim to be: in Faming Simulator 22 the four seasons have been introduced, with their own characteristics.
The game has therefore been equipped with an internal calendar and the player will no longer be able to do anything at all times, but will have to respect the cycles of the seasons to manage the crops. So don’t expect to harvest wheat in the winter or harvest in April, except in case you decide to deactivate the whole system and go back to the classic one (Giants doesn’t want to risk alienating anyone). Of course, by introducing the seasons, the developers also had to render them visually, so as to offer greater realism. Each period will therefore have its own colors and characteristics (snow in winter, flowering in spring, yellow leaves in autumn and so on). The new Farming Simulator therefore appears to be graphically more varied than its predecessors. It is also so in other details, such as in local traffic, with the generic cars of each map that will follow the style of the territory in which they are located and will go at different speeds. In this way, that sense of monotony that takes over after many hours of play should disappear.
Other accessory elements
For the rest during the presentation we were shown other accessory elements added to the game. In particular we were able to see others new vehicles, such as the CLASS Trion 750 Terra Trac combine, Mack trucks or Zetor tractors. More interesting is a new, small addition to the gameplay: the stones, which have the function of wearing out agricultural vehicles if the land is not first reclaimed. If desired, it is also possible to sell the collected stones for a few pennies, but their removal mainly serves to avoid equipment breakdowns.
Farming Simulator 22 didn’t seem like a revolutionary evolution of the previous chapters, but we expected it a bit. After all, the series is that and, apart from a few changes, it is difficult to change it without distorting it. However, we will see if seasonal cycles and production chains will reach their goal of rejuvenating the formula a little, giving it new levels of complexity.