Satisfactory is a first-person open-world factory building game developed and published by Coffee Stain Studios. It was released in early access for Microsoft Windows in March 2019, and it is currently in continued development.
Satisfactory is not first and foremost a survival game but an industrial planning one. The central part of the gaming being about a continual improvement of the factories, both in what can be produced and how it most efficiently can be produced. And as a added side effect also how the factories can be made to look as aestetically pleasing as possible.
You, the player, is on a mission from the company Ficsit Inc. to develop a recently discovered and unexploited planet. To your help you start out with the material of your lander and the central point of your endeavour – a building called the Hub. But beyond that everything else must be collected, extracted, and refined from the planet’s own resources. The first steps in this process is to find copper and iron ore, as well as gathering biomaterial such as leaves and wood in order to feed your starting hub’s electricity generators.
After you have got the first basic industries going, the contruction of a space elevator makes it possible to start sending some of the produced goods back into space to your employer who in turn rewards you with new schematics and knowledge to make new technologies for easier, more automated production and unlocks the use of new resources.
The mainstay of your industrial endeavour are the construction of transportation networks for the resources and products in the form of conveyor belts, pipelines, and further on also automated trains and other advanced transportation devices. These are the arteries of your factories which shuffles the commodities around between the many robotic factory plants.
The game developer has chosen to base the game on a single, but huge, premade map which means that there is no random generation involved. This means that every new game will start on the same spot in each of the different biomes and with access to the same points of natural resources. The map’s sheer size however, in combination with the options to start a game in each of the different biomes still makes it an agreeable decision without too much of a drawback. The benefit of utilizing a premade world map is of course that the game developers can have full control over that the map becomes a good and challenging mix for the player when it comes to the landscape itself and its resource distribution.
Because the landscape itself can be challenging with deep chasms, mountains, rivers and – not to forget – the local fauna. Because even if the planet is uninhabited by higher lifeforms, it still has a number of different creatures which in some cases can be quite aggressive toward the player. And just like everything else you have to construct your own weapons in order to protect yourself from this kind of threat while out surveying the land. Although as already noted above, Satisfactory is not a survival game as such. The fauna – and some flora – are not a major threat to your operations or even to yourself (although getting killed by an angry beast while far from your home can be a bit annoying when having to retrieve your things). It is more to be considered an extra flavour in the mix.
Satisfactory can be both a relaxing and a challenging game, and for best result it requires players to think carefully about how they want to build their factory. Or more likely you’ll end up rebuilding your factory several times to try to reach that “perfect” state what you wish for. There is no right or wrong way to build a factory, but players will need to be efficient in order to produce enough items to progress through the game.
It could be said that the game is all about the journey and less about the goal – it is satisfying to see your factory grow and expand. Satisfactory is a game that is all about optimization, and the main part of gameplay is to try to find the most efficient way to produce items.
That said, the game world is massive, and players will need to travel long distances to find new resources. This sense of scale also gives the game a sense of adventure, and it can at times be a rewarding, calm experience to just explore the planet and discover new things.
My main problem with Satisfactory is the complete lack of a third person perspective. For me personally this is a question of gaming comfort since I have a tendency for moving sickness. Something that not always play well with first person views. So in my opinion all games should come with an option for third person simply from a disability perpective. If the game designers want to keep an “immersion” it’s ok. Just make it a limited zoom out then. As it is I managed to limit my discomfort by deselecting options like “head bobbing”, “motion blur” and adjusting the field-of-view values, but it is still notan optimal experience.
In addition a third person view, while less immersive, could also be helpful when it comes to constructing. As it is the placement of new structures can be a bit annoying due to the lack of overview, leading to having to place and replace things in order to position them as you wish.
That said, the game’s visuals are quite impressive and the different biomes provide lots of eye candy and invites you to explore further while the soundscape is fitting for the occasion. It takes a bit of time to get the grips on the controls and how things work but nothing too cumbersome. Construction works nicely with building pieces mostly snapping in place without too much fuss, even if like in most construction games there is a certain amount of learning the tricks needed to make the “not possible” things possible.
The game can be quite complex when the production chains expand and you will find yourself rebuilding your factories both one and two times. Or ten. But then again, that is what Satisfactory is all about in the end. It’s one of these “it’s not the end goal that counts, but the journey” kind of games where you can reach a certain level of zen in your effort to construct that “perfect” factory.