Before I wrote about video games from the comfort of a computer screen, I worked for my father at his real-life construction company, so playing the upcoming Construction Simulator 2022 was something of a surreal experience. Just when I thought I’d left the yellow hard hat and demanding physical labor in the tractor’s rearview, it all came flooding back to me in this beautifully detailed and incredibly fun simulation game that had me giddy with nostalgia before I was done with the tutorial . It’s not too often that one gets the opportunity to walk the path not taken, but strapping that toolbelt back on as I drove painstakingly detailed roller machines and excavators, completed repair jobs, and pushed around dirt felt like peering through a window into what could have been, and that’s just about the highest compliment I could give a game that prides itself on a realistic depiction of the trade.
Given my personal connection to the construction industry, I decided to put Construction Simulator 2022 through its paces by seeing how accurately I could recreate my father’s actual company. After creating an avatar that looked shockingly close to my actual dad, naming my company after the family business, and choosing one of Construction Simulator’s two open-world locales , I was ready to begin resharpening my skills as a builder. I started out with simple jobs at first, like replacing a broken pipe and compacting some gravel in a parking lot. You might not expect these straightforward chores to be particularly fun, but you’d be mistaken – like many good simulation games, it’s oddly satisfying to see the fruits of your virtual labor.
But when I was introduced to more complicated jobs involving incredibly heavy and complex pieces of machinery, things went from zenlike and satisfying to downright gleeful. In one job, I removed letters from an old hotel building using a massive crane that felt like operating a giant arcade claw machine, and slapped them on a nearby motel using a flatbed truck. As I completed jobs, the digital doppelganger of my dad’s business earned money that could be used to acquire new equipment, raw materials, and to fast travel from place-to-place in cases where I felt like skipping the travel time to get to the good stuff (which was a really nice touch).
The biggest thing that stood out to me as I completed job after job was how quickly I was able to get into the action versus other simulation games I spent time with. Usually there’s a lot of prep work involved and a bit of monotony in managing the business or getting your ducks in a row before you can get to the good stuff, but Construction Simulator 2022 does away with a lot of the fat found in other sims and consistently kept the action moving in a way that made me feel like I was never working my way through humdrum tasks – I really appreciated that!
Interestingly, Construction Simulator 2022’s two campaigns appear to have stories attached to them. After a few quick intro jobs, I learned that the town I found myself in had fallen on tough times, and it was up to me to rebuild it and breathe new life into the area. In addition to completing jobs to restore the town’s infrastructure, I was also sometimes asked to accomplish this by doing some…unconventional tasks, like staging a fake crash site of an alien spaceship to draw the attention of would-be tourists. I’m unclear on how much they’ll actually commit to this narrative, but found myself giggling at the prospect of diving in further to see where it goes. If nothing else, it’s something I absolutely had not expected the developers to include.
Construction Simulator 2022 also features online multiplayer, which lets you and a friend work together to complete jobs, rake in the moolah, and advance your town’s progress more quickly. So far, working in tandem with another player has been fantastic and sometimes chaotic, and it’s been hard to go back to playing solo now that I’ve tried it. It’s just more fun to tackle projects together or to divide and conquer to complete multiple jobs at once and earn even more money and resources. Just make sure you trust your fellow laborers, because they might accidentally drive your tractor into a building or fling a valuable piece of equipment into a ditch on accident.
It’s been awhile since I’ve thought about construction, but Construction Simulator 2022 brought a smile to my face and gave a chance for my dad to finally relate with something I’ve done for work. And who knows: maybe I’ll be able to convince him to pick up a game controller and try his hand at digital construction as well.