Facteroids is a 3D factory building game currently in Early Access and developed and published by Jan Zizka. It comes with three game modes: a campaign mode, an ‘asteroid hopping’ mode, and a sandbox mode. Set in a world where people are driven into space in order to find resources after the ones on Earth have dwindled, you play as a researcher dispatched to different asteroids in space in order to mine resources for the home front.
Facterois’ campaign mode features gameplay where you’ll have to complete missions and objectives, often focussing on mining different types of rare resources and setting up living quarters for colonists. The asteroid hopping mode, meanwhile, sees you starting a playthrough on a small asteroid with very limited resources. Similar to a game like Islanders, the asteroid hopping mode has you building production lines until you’ve extracted all resources you can, before moving on to progressively larger asteroids.
Practically, gameplay takes place on a three-dimensional asteroid. You can rotate the camera around the asteroid, and the game helpfully displays a grid across the asteroid’s terrain whenever you’re building structures to help you place them strategically. Much like other titles such as Factorio, Satisfactory, and, in some respects, Astroneer, you’ll have to set up production lines consisting of several machines and conveyor belts in order to extract resources and process them. The overall aim of the game is to mine resources, refine them, and transport them back to Earth in your mothership.
When you first boot up a game, you’ll land your mothership on an asteroid. Your mothership will come with a range of starter resources and one construction bot. Construction bots function as assistants in Facteroids and build structures when you put them down on the map. While you start the game with only one robot, you do have the option of building a bot dock once you’ve collected enough resources. This dock, once installed, allows you to unlock additional construction bots, and thus build new structures at a faster rate.
“…an impressive build given the small team of developers driving the game.”
Similar to Factorio, the Facteroids interface features a construction bot menu from which you can select structures to build, and a menu where you can speed up time if you’re waiting for the construction bots to finish building. This is useful, since building is one of the main activities you’ll be doing in Facteroids. The lifeblood of production lines in Facteroids are the factory buildings. These buildings, when hooked up to smelters, can process natural resources like iron, carbon, rock, and ice.
As you progress through the game, you can unlock increasingly complex factory and energy buildings. To do this, though, you’ll need to be able to conduct research and, as it turns out, only humans are well-placed to do this. So, to create an inhabitable environment for humans, you’ll need to construct a colony building with plenty of water and oxygen for your researchers. The more research you conduct, the more advanced buildings you can construct in the long run, too. Even though you may start with only one construction bot and a handful of factories, you’ll quickly find yourself constructing hotels and sky bars for space tourists to generate some extra income.
Overall, Facteroids feels like a promising gameplay experience that, with a couple more updates, could be truly engaging. Once you wrap your head around the different mechanics, menus, resources, and buildings, it’s easy to lose yourself in building endless production lines and watching the machinery at work. However, some aspects of the current build, like rotating the camera around a three-dimensional asteroid and navigating small icons and menus, still feel like they could do with further refining in places.
That said though, it’s clear that as a game, Facteroids shows great potential, and it’s certainly an impressive build given the small team of developers driving the game. It’s clear that, with some more effective feedback from users after launch, Facteroids could be polished to a point where the gameplay experience can truly shine. So, if you’re a strategy fan looking for something new and different, make sure to keep an eye on Facteroids on Steam. It will be launching in full on the 23th of June 2023.