Being a farmer is a big job. You’ve got to water your fields, rotate your crops, and keep an eye on the market prices to make sure you’re able to pull a decent profit. If you’ve ever dreamed of trying your hand at this noble profession but don’t have hundreds of acres of land to play with, Farming Simulator 23: Nintendo Switch Edition is here to provide you with the realistic farming action that might be missing from games like Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons.
Simulator games are a tricky lot; they don’t necessarily need to have the best graphics, but they need to have a realistic feel when you’re behind the wheel of these machines. Farming Simulator 23 goes to a lot of effort to recreate farm equipment for you to ride around in. The tractors, tills, and plows all feel like something you might have been stuck behind while going down a country road. While we might not have driven them personally, most of us have seen them in action before and the vehicles in this game do a good job of replicating how they move and handle.
Unfortunately, that realism only goes so far. Farming Simulator 23: Nintendo Switch Edition suffers from some technical limitations that almost immediately put a damper on our fun. There are only two maps available for you to build your farm on, which feels like a step back from the three offered in the previous game. There are also fewer animals to raise and vehicles to purchase, making it feel slightly smaller than its predecessor. There are almost no particle effects to speak of, making it difficult to tell when it is raining, which can have big implications on how you approach your day.
It becomes very clear shortly after you load up Farming Simulator 23 that there isn’t a right or wrong way to play the game. You can focus on raising animals, growing crops, or delving into forestry to make your living, with each having its own challenges and advantages. You start with $100,000 in cash and several machines that can help get you started on your journey, whichever route you want to take.
This freedom is great and is very much in line with what we’d expect from simulator games like this. However, the tutorial doesn’t cover anything other than the very basics of the game’s controls and almost nothing about how to actually run your farm. We appreciate the effort to not hold our hands as we go through the game, but even a more in-depth exploration of how to get your fields ready for planting would be useful. Searching the help files had us scratching our heads about what the right process would be.
Once you have all your farming equipment and figure out how to use it, it is mostly a case of sitting back and letting your AI farmhands do a lot of the work. If you want to run an efficient farm, you need several fields being plowed, tilled, seeded, and harvested in the correct order at the same time, which can be a bit of a juggling act. You’ll spend most of your time in Farming Simulator 23 either making sure your staff hasn’t run out of fields to plow or that they haven’t run into each other.
This system is meant to help you keep multiple plates spinning at the same time and it does a decent job of it, but it does take a bit of the fun out of simply driving the tractors around. Simulation games are at their best when they let you get your hands dirty; driving these big machines is part of the experience and it just feels lacking here.
Even using the farmhands to automate our farm didn’t make things run smoothly for us. There are some frustrating moments along the way that make the game feel more onerous than it needs to be. For example, there isn’t an option to have your newly purchased farm equipment delivered to you. You have to head out to the depot, which might be several miles away, and drive it back yourself or use the unintuitive system to get one of your AI farmhands to drive one or both vehicles for you. This was okay when we wanted a new pickup truck to zip around town, but a forklift, which has a max speed in the glacial range, felt like it took days to get to us before we could even use it.
That same forklift highlighted one of the other issues with Farming Simulator 23. The physics in the game aren’t exactly stellar, so when we tried to load a pallet of freshly laid eggs into the back of our pickup, the game panicked and, after a brief but amusing bit of shuddering, sent the truck flying through the air and into the field next to us. We promptly panicked ourselves and crashed the forklift, sending it onto its side and rendering it unusable unless we purchased another forklift to lift it back up on its wheels again. That seemed a bridge too far so we left it lying there for the rest of our playthrough, serving as a sad testament to the state of the game’s physics. And we never did manage to get those eggs to the market.
These bugs were mostly quirky and comical but made the game feel less realistic and grounded than we expected. They broke the immersion that we were hoping to get from a true farm simulation game, but it was the lack of any significant tutorial that makes Farming Simulator 23: Nintendo Switch Edition hard to recommend to anyone other than the most die-hard of farmhands. Even then, the gameplay is too hands-off to make it truly engrossing, and it’s hard to imagine there’s much of a market for old hands who want a watered-down mobile-friendlier version to supplement the full-fat experience.
There is fun to be had in Farming Simulator 23: Nintendo Switch Edition, but those who find it will need to be intimately familiar with the farming process. This version feels like a significant downgrade over the PC edition released in late 2021 and has some gameplay quirks that hinder the actual experience of running a farm. Unless you are desperate to take your farming on the go with the Switch, there are better entries in this series out there to play.