Factorio, a game about… factories, developed by Wube Software LTD for over 4 years and seemingly being their first game. While it is their first game it has had a rather lengthy development cycle so we can assume it is quite stable and enjoyable, in comparison to other “first timers” on the Steam store.
There is only a short campaign on offer right now but it gives you the jist of the story, while exploring in space you crash land on a hostile planet and must learn to survive in the new harsh environment. Building up several bases, a car to eventually travel further away from the crash site and discover that others have also landed on this planet. Ending the campaign with an eradication of the bugs that infest this planet.
The “campaign” acts more like a short tutorial series as you’re mostly being taught how to play, with the story setting up the level and ending it. Taking around 5-8 hours depending on how focused you are on getting the materials needed for the objectives.
Like many other building games the main aim is to gain resources, either travelling to them by foot or vehicles like the Car, tank or train system you can set up. Mining can be done by hand or through automated mining machines, the ore can then be picked up manually or set to be picked by inserters, into a chest or onto a conveyor belt system. Basically if something can be done manually you can automate it through the use of machines and factories, later on through droids.
Coal will be the most useful resource in the beginning, fuelling your furnaces and early game machines. You can move onto electricity through the use of water heaters that pumps hot water into Steam Engines, generating electricity that you can store into batteries and the like, carted around your facilities through electric poles. Later on you can make the switch to Solar Power which will reduce the amount of coal needed by your factory immensely. Adding to the feeling that you are progressing along a long tech tree.
Mining Copper and Iron will allow you to build new machines and produce science to unlock new machines, factories and upgrades for both those and your characters. The science unlocks will last you the entire game and possibly still be unfinished by the end, I had about 8 techs locked when I finished my first free roam.
As you mine out the land, with the use of factories, you will produce pollution that can be seen on the map. When this pollution reaches the Bug Hives on the map the native creatures of the planet will come to attack your factories to reduce the stink of pollution on their world. To keep these at bay you can make guns and armour for yourself, vehicles to drive around or automated turrets along with mine fields. As you kill these creatures and destroy their hives they will evolve to combat you harder, with ranged units, bigger units and behemoth worms.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
While playing this game I got an overwhelming feeling of the good ol days of Command & Conquer when Westwood was the developer. Both the art style and combat feels reminiscent of those good years, building up your base and amassing hundreds of troops to invade the opposite sides basses. As the game progresses you will make the switch to “Turret Crawling”, which is to make power lines stretch to the hives and place down a load of Laser Turrets to do the work for you, with the ability to build tanks with explosive shells you will swap between these two tactics but it will eventually revert back to turret crawling. There needs to be some more combat tech trees at the end game, as besides all the upgrades to speed and damage you can unlock, the turrets are just better.
The music is sadly a background thing in this game, most of the time you will just have ambient sounds and the sounds of machines whirling or guns firing. It isn’t too bad in this type of game since you will focus a lot on the construction side rather than listening to music, listening to the sounds of alerts and attacks is much more vital. However I did find myself sticking on my own music, albeit turned down a lot to hear alerts. If the developer could add more music, doesn’t have to be powerful, I think it could improve the experience a lot.
Overall Factorio is an amazingly put together Early Access Game, with frequent updates from the development team to add in more features and fix the bugs that are scattered around… the code bugs not the ones you kill in game. You can spend hours on end playing this on your own or with a couple of friends through the server hosting, With 2 people a free play can last 30 hours until you finally build a ship to leave the planet, with the option to continue on the same planet after that. It does lack some mechanics, sound and story but what it has right now is a solid and enjoyable game.
Special thanks to Wargr for helping me build a ship to get off that damn planet.