Satisfactory (Early Access) Review | The Uncrowned King of Factory Games

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Satisfactory is a factory management simulator from Coffee Stain Studios. Read on to learn everything we know, our review of its 8th and final update before 1.0, and more.

Everything We Know About Satisfactory

Satisfactory Story Plot

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Satisfactory’s story is simple and pretty much settled the moment you land on the planet. You are a Pioneer for FICSIT Incorporated, an interplanetary conglomerate specializing in industrial materials and resource gathering. Your job is to take this planet and turn it into a profitable venture for FICSIT and its shareholders by constructing factories, automating production, exploring its vast landscape, and exploiting its natural resources.

How you go about doing that is up to you, just make sure to send a new shipment through the space elevator every now and then, lest you miss your quota.

Satisfactory Gameplay

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Satisfactory’s gameplay is comprised of three major facets: Factory Management, Exploration, and Research. Factory management is the one you’re going to spend the most time with, as it includes planning, building, automating, overseeing, and fine-tuning the machinery and infrastructure you set up.

Exploration requires you to go out and about in search of new resources to bring back to your factory and exploit for further gain. While exploring, you may encounter local flora and fauna (who may be hostile), as well as peculiar land formations that could serve as the backbone of a new factory outpost.

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Research happens whenever you discover something new, either through the MAM — a station used specifically to unlock new technologies — or by fulfilling orders given to you through the space elevator. Completing these research tasks grants you new blueprints to further your factory’s output, or better your chances of surviving the wilderness.

There’s currently no narrative ending to the game, although you are incentivized to keep building grander and grander factories using the technology you’ve unlocked.

Satisfactory 1.0 Release Date

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Satisfactory 1.0 will be released sometime in 2024, with no specific date currently announced.

Satisfactory (Early Access) Review

The Uncrowned King of Factory Games

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Satisfactory is a factory management sim from Coffee Stain Studios that exhibits exoplanetary exploration and exploitation as its main gameplay. Being a fan of Factorio myself, I’m no stranger to factory management — in fact, I’d even say I’m quite good at it if you can forgive how long it takes me to plan layouts. I’ve never really tried this game because my setup couldn’t handle it until now, but I’ve always seen it lingering in the background update after update. From what scant details I could pick up, it was something of a 3D version of Factorio. After playing it for some time, I have to agree.

As the title says, I think this game is the uncrowned king of factory games, uncrowned only because it’s technically not out yet. But even in this unfinished state, I’ve already grown rather fond of it, so the title stands. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let’s pick apart the pieces of what makes Satisfactory more than satisfactory.

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Let’s start with the gameplay, which is any factory management sim’s bread and butter. Satisfactory’s gameplay is, in three words: simple, intuitive, and satisfying. It’s simple because this game is, for the lack of a better term, completely idiot-proof. There are arrows everywhere denoting where inputs and outputs are; there’s a worldwide grid so you can line up your factory without having to eyeball things; every machine has an intake and output value that you calculate using basic math (or the built-in calculator); every item has a tooltip so you know what it does and what makes it; all of these, plus a legion of quality-of-life improvements makes this game so simple that you can get by with head full of ideas and nothing else.

The game’s intuitiveness lies in the Lego-like modular construction of all its moving parts. Everything can connect to everything. Apart from how easy it is to gather and craft things, it’s extremely easy to understand how things should go together for them to work efficiently. Sure, you can cobble together a wonky production line that makes one iron ingot per minute, or you could look at the tools the game has given you and create a grand factory floor that can supply worlds with your creations. You could get your hands dirty, or you could automate EVERYTHING.

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As for the satisfaction you get from playing this game, well, that’s a different beast altogether. This is a puzzle game in disguise, with the puzzle being how efficient you can make your production line with the resources you have around you. Playing this game feels like going through a neverending to-do list of industrial-grade errands and all you’ve got is a few blueprints and some ores in the ground. Checking off another item on that to-do list is a heaven in itself, as is the splendor of beholding the industrial architecture you’ve just created. This is why you play this game. This is what is so satisfying about Satisfactory.

All that, and we’re only halfway through what the game can offer. I’m sure now you’re starting to see why I’m calling this game the king. If ever you feel the need to step away from the clinking and clanking of your factory — perhaps you’re bored of the tedium, or perhaps you just want to see what’s out there — worry not, there’s a massive, and I do mean MASSIVE, map awaiting you.

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Exploration is another piece of Satisfactory’s gameplay and I’d say it’s no slouch, even when compared to the game’s main allure of factory management. The map is expansive and there’s danger around every corner, but you’re going to want to head out there still because that’s where the resources are. Sure, you can set up a factory and hunker down for the rest of the game, but your production would eventually bottleneck without new resources and technologies.

And it’s not like you’re headed out unarmed because the game arms you with everything you need to traverse this alien planet. I’m talking about zip lines, parachutes, rollerblades, a gun that shoots rebar, remote-detonated grenades, and because it wouldn’t be a game about exploiting alien planets without harming the locals, an electric baseball bat. Bringing back new resources to your factory would only improve it, so the gameplay loop is really interesting and downright addictive when you get into the meat of it.

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On top of that massive monolith of things you can accomplish in this game, there’s just the fact that it looks amazing. The game recently upgraded its engine to Unreal 5, so the details in your machinery look stunning while the landscape before you glistens with the new Lumen Global Lighting system. And apart from the graphics, the game’s art direction just boggles my mind in its quality. It’s a bit hard to believe sometimes that this game isn’t even finished yet.

The design of the machines and equipment straddles the border between hard industrialism and sleek futurism with its angular, module-based construction and distinct use of metallic finish. That’s my best attempt at describing it because all other attempts make me want to say "it looks like a space factory."

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I could go on and on about how great this game is and it still wouldn’t capture the grandeur of the experience. Setting up your own factory on an alien planet is a solid premise to start with, but who could have known that those foundations would eventually be built upon by progressively impressive layers of game design and aesthetic choices?

I only have but one regret in playing this game and it’s that I didn’t play it sooner. Don’t get me wrong, other games in the genre like Factorio, Dyson Sphere Program, and Shapez 2 all hit it out of the park as well, I just think that Satisfactory, in all its unfinished glory, is in a league of its own. I simply cannot wait for its full release.

Satisfactory Official Website
Satisfactory on Steam

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