As the title says, Factorio is a video game where your character’s mission is to build and maintain a series of factories.
In the main game, you started off crash-landed on an alien planet with the goal of launching a rocket to get you back into space.
You mine resources, build automation plants, route everything with conveyer belts, and can even set up a network of trains with as simple or elaborate connections as you’d like.
Then, when you unlock robot helpers, things really get interesting.
Some of your machines create pollution, which attracts alien bugs. This part can be disabled, or tuned up or down to your liking. Factorio has a “tower defense” type of component if you use the default settings.
Blueprints allow you to save convenient designs for reuse, and can be shared with the online community.
Factorio sounds simple, and it can be, and it can also be very complex. There’s an optional circuit network that lets you program a series of control parameters, such as to sound an alarm when a resource runs low, or to switch a liquid resource pump on or off based on a preset conditions.
There can be math involved, such as to determine how much of a resource is needed to output an automated product with minimal delays. But it’s not needed. For most things, I tend to over-fabricate, with surplus materials boxed up in supply crates, although this tends to back up conveyer belts every so often.
The biters – the hostile alien bugs and worms – are defined by basic behaviors but keep things challenging. I can’t really blame them – my factory defoliated the surrounding trees and turned the blue lake water green.
Problems pop up, with biter attacks, resource shortages, and trains that can run out of fuel if you don’t set them right.
There’s always something to build or fix. And, if or when you do launch that first rocket – something I haven’t gotten up to yet – you can continue playing on the same map or change things up. Each map is procedurally generated, which means it’s new and different every time.
If you ever get bored, there are a slew of mods that change things up.
I don’t recall how I learned about Factorio, but I purchased it soon after, about a week ago. It’s available for $30 on Steam (and apparently never goes on sale), and there’s also a free demo.
It doesn’t sound like the type of game I would play, but I’ve been enjoying it. The trains and rail system surprised me, as this doesn’t seem like something I’d enjoy, but they’ve added to the fun.
I should warn you – this game doesn’t play like most real-time strategy or simulator games. Keep a post-it or piece of paper nearby for creating reminders or a task list for next time, or you risk falling into a “I’ve got to do just one more thing before I close it” trap.
Here’s the maker’s trailer for the game:
If you give it a try, here are some tips:
The tutorials are optional, but not really. Ratios are important. For instance, one water pump feeds 20 boilers, and each boiler can supply 2 steam engines. Don’t try to be perfect. Each conveyer belt has two lanes and can have different materials on each side. Rail signals keep trains flowing steadily: chain rail signals go where tracks enter at a crossing or intersection, and regular signals go on the exits and on single tracks in between.