In Factorio “mass production isn’t just the beating heart of capitalism, it’s also surprisingly fun” says Bee Bonthuys
Wube Software’s Factorio is a prime example for the merits of alpha funding initiatives: it’s updated often, and the developers maintain near-obsessive contact with the community. And in its current state, it also proves its prime directive – that mass production isn’t just the beating heart of capitalism, it’s also surprisingly fun.
The jump-off point is much the same as many other survival title; you, the player, are stranded on an unknown world, tasked with crafting your way to a better place. The emphasis here, however, isn’t on building swanky golden bachelor pads, but on designing an efficient factory complex. There’s an ever growing to-do list of tasks, at times leading to a suffocating level of complexity. The learning curve can be pretty steep, and the UI is not the most intuitive; both of these will hopefully be improved before final release.
In Factorio you’ll start small, constructing labour-intensive furnaces to smelt iron ore, which might be used to manufacture gears needed to produce conveyer belts. Those are essential in transporting an enormous list of possible components. Eventually you’ll break these primitive shackles; who needs mere belts when you can have a railway? Or a horde of helpful bots? Or maybe a shiny set of power armour and some badass turrets?
And trust me, you really can never have enough fire power, because the clock is ticking. Your expanding factory will be spewing pollution into the air, which won’t go down well with the locals, and rather than write a strongly worded letter to their local TD, the evolving Biters, Worms and Spitters would much rather gnaw on your bones in protest.
This ever-looming threat provides some much needed conflict and excitement. Finding an effective strategy to deal with these xeno-cretins might lead to new players dying often; it’s best played with the wiki close by. If you prefer a more peaceful existence, the aggressiveness of these threats can be tweaked at the start.
Don’t be fooled, though – Factorio is more than just about survival. It’s actually a rather deceptive puzzle title. A lot of brainpower goes into ensuring that every component you produce gets to the next stage in the production line, especially when your factory sprawls across the map. This constant emphasis on the small details can be frustrating at times, as it’s not always obvious where the problem lies. A wrongly placed conveyer can grind everything to a halt, and overproducing lower-tier goods might tie up resources you’ll need later for more advanced components. It’s all about learning from your past mistakes. Don’t feel like keeping track of everything on your own? Grab a buddy or three, since co-op multiplayer is an option.
Wube Software has been hammering away at Factorio since 2012 and it shows in its presentation, as even in this stage of development the core gameplay is solid. While not the flashiest of games in terms of its isometric graphics, and being rather slow to get going from a fresh start, it’s ever-evolving gameplay will surely have you hooked.
Factorio is part of Steam’s Early Access and GOG’s In Development programmes with a free demo available for download.