• Factorio


  • Simulation


  • Wube Software


  • Wube Software

Release Date:

  • 2014 (Early Access), 14 August 14 2020 (v1.0)

On Wikipedia:


  • Windows


Best Achievement:

  • So Long and Thanks for All The Fish

I still long for a true successor to SimCity 4, something that can get me close to what it did to me circa 2004-2005. I've previously written reviews for Cities: Skylines, once back in April 2020 and a later one on this page (Cities: Skylines II does not look to be any better). There are, of course, a few games that come close. Back before Paradox got their mitts on it, I was a big fan of Prison Architect...and there is also Factorio. Factorio isn't exactly "SimFactory", as it focuses more on efficiency and planning than just expansion for the sake of expansion, and some critics have even called it an idle game, because in lack of defending your base from enemies (which can be turned off), the game can be set quite easily to win, but it's slow.

While it took a bit to get into and get the learning curve down, Factorio is easily one of the most addictive games I've played, and I've easily sunk 8+ solid hours into this game at one time, something that had never happened to me with any other game. If nothing else, it teaches you about logistics and how raw materials could be finished, usable products. The end products aren't sold as consumer items, but rather "science packs" to research new technologies and eventually launch a rocket. In the beginning of the game, you can do little more than make simple electronic circuit boards with just combining iron plates and copper wire. (Factorio is more realistic than other games but still highly abstracted). Soon, you'll "research" oil derricks, and begin making plastic bars out of petroleum. Eventually, you'll have so many things going on that when you discover a shortage, it's usually three or four stages deep. In one case (I may be paraphrasing this, so it's not the exact story), I noticed a shortage of "purple science", one of the "science packs" to research new technologies and eventually launch a rocket. At the plant that made the "production science pack", there were plenty of electric engine units in storage but no electric furnaces available. The electric furnaces were not being produced because of a shortage of advanced circuit boards. The advanced circuit boards were not being produced because of a shortage of plastic bars. The plastic bars were not being produced because of a shortage of petroleum gas. The petroleum gas was not being produced not because a shortage of crude oil, but the crude oil processing had run out of space for light oil and heavy oil. Once more storage units were added for them, production continued back to the "purple science" plant, with petroleum gas plastic bars could be produced, with plastic bars advanced circuits could be produced, with advanced circuits electric furnaces could be produced, and so on. Almost everything can be scaled up, and you can even get into having a circuit network that has logic gates so things aren't being over-produced in certain areas.

I've played around with some of the mods, and while they introduce some intriguing new byproducts, most of it is just additional busywork without introducing new depth. Plus, the most popular mods can't decide if they want to go with ultra-realism (with complete oil refinery byproducts) or fantasy (made-up ores, manufacturing products made from alien fungus, etc.), though that takes a backseat on based on how long it takes to get everything up and running. It is a testament to the game's excellence how solid the vanilla game is, though there a few quality-of-life mods that I use. (You can never mod yourself into a "good" game).

Factorio, however, IS a game where the wiki is required reading, and while it is helpful, there's no print guide or any real PDFs besides some quick-start guides made by Steam users. This seems more egregious since Version 1.0 was released in August 2020 and major changes to the game have already been made and settled with. When I started playing Factorio back in 2018 (version 0.16, I believe), all of the "science packs" had different recipes, creating a markedly different game build when it came what to focus on. Chemical science pack, popularly known as "blue science" and where the game takes a significant difficulty spike, used an advanced circuit, an engine unit, and an electric mining drill to make one pack (as opposed to the final's "3 advanced circuit, 2 engine units, 1 sulfur" to make two). Military science pack used a resource-intensive gun turret (resource-intensive in the context of the game's iron/copper/stone, not computing power) instead of stone walls, and so on.

I had wanted to put this up after they finished the DLC. It's June of 2023 and barely anything about the DLC has been released. Some previews include water monsters, molten metal, and in general promising things that mods cannot do, and as much as I'd like to buy it and tell everyone about it, I can't. Maybe this will get updated eventually.