Satisfactory is a first-person factory and base builder. The game is in the same vein as Factorio, where players are on an endless quest for the most efficient factory layout as they climb up the tech tree. The game is in early access with no official target date for leaving early access. Coffee Stain Studios is taking a “we’ll release it when we feel it’s done” policy with Satisfactory.
Resource gathering is one of the pillars of Satisfactory’s gameplay. Raw materials will need to be torn out of the ground, harvested from creatures, or gathered from plants. The availability of resources is based on the map, and the game currently offers four maps for a range of player skill level and experience. The amount of resources needed for base and factory building rises quickly, so players are pushed towards automating resource gathering right away. Factory building is made easier as ore veins have unlimited resources. Instead, the only limitation is the number of miners that can be built on top of the vein.
Building bases and factories is the main focus in Satisfactory. Processing raw material into finished parts requires players to press and hold a button, so automation is an absolute must once again. The game offers plenty of parts with cosmetic and practical purpose, ensuring players can get an efficient and good-looking factory at the same time. Factory efficiency is always a challenge as production buildings are sized differently. I found myself constantly reorganizing machines and conveyor belts to increase efficiency, adjust my production flow in response to new items or, more honestly, when I could no longer tolerate my tangle of conveyor belts that snaked through my factory floor. Luckily for me, disassembling machines provides a full refund in materials, so players are free to rebuild their factory as many times as they want if they are willing to spend the time doing so. My only issue with the base building tools is the machine hitboxes. Since the entire model must fit in the box, building conveyor belt lines above certain machines can be incredibly frustrating as the belts will often nick an invisible corner and can’t be built. I would prefer clearer markers showing what exactly is interfering with construction.
Once the factory is up and running, players can leave it alone without having to worry. This encourages players to explore the surroundings for new resources to feed their factories. There is a decent number of points of interests and ore veins to incentivize exploring, though seeing more added in future updates would please me. While Satisfactory is not a survival game, exploration will put players in danger as some of the local wildlife is hostile to the player’s existence. Since combat isn’t the main focus, there aren’t many weapons in the game; however, there is a tech tree progression that will allow players to tackle the tougher monsters with greater ease.
Satisfactory has an incredibly beefy tech tree already. Currently, the estimates to complete the entire tree come in around a hundred or so hours. The tree itself has a well-balanced mix of cosmetic, construction, player, and factory items spread across a couple of different buildings. There are several resource sinks to burn off excess items, which inevitably pile up given the unlimited nature of materials. My only complaint so far is the lack of central area for all research, upgrades, and crafting. Currently, most crafting and upgrades are done through the HUB, but there are a couple of other buildings that need to be visited to craft player equipment, purchase items, and do research. I would prefer to see these buildings unlock these menus at the HUB terminal instead, as it would save players the need to run around.
The controls are solid for the most part. The developers use a lightly modified first person survival game layout. The tools for building and deconstructing the world is straight forward and well thought out. It is just as easy to build freeform as it is to snap buildings together and create a factory LEGO-style. The only issue so far is the hot bar for abilities and held items in the hand are separate. I am not really satisfied with how held items are managed, as it feels like an unnecessary layer. While I would prefer to see Coffee Stain Studios merge the hot bar and the held items into a unified hot bar, providing a clearer explanation in game combined with some sort of improved UI for managing held items would work too.
The audio/visual presentation is excellent. The audio is already very polished with high quality sound effects, music, and voice acting. The visual style sports an excellent contrast between the industrial nature of the factories and the vibrant alien landscape.
Satisfactory is already an excellent game even though it is still in early access. I can easily see the game taking a Minecraft-type route where tons of players buy in and pour in hundreds of hours as if it were a full release long before an actual 1.0 release. While there is some quality of life issues that need to be ironed out, Satisfactory has an incredibly addictive gameplay loop and the first-person perspectives works very well for the genre. Considering there is still more content in the making, Satisfactory is already a great purchase for fans of the automation and base building genres.