Factorio on the Switch Still Scratches the Itch

Posted on December 11, 2022 by Richard Goulter

Factorio is a game which is widely regarded as addictingly fun to play.

The ostensible goal of the game is to assemble & launch a rocket ship.

The start of the game is reasonably familiar: you control a character, mine some ores from resource deposits, and then use these resources to assemble tools or whatever item you need. (e.g. you’ll mine some iron ore, put this ore in a furnace, and use the resulting iron plates to assemble an iron pickaxe).
– Factorio allows for automating these process. A mining machine can automatically gather resources; conveyor belts can automatically move these resources along; an assembly machine can automatically assemble some item, and inserter arm machines can automatically insert items from the convey belts into the assembly machines.

The first time you play the game (if you don’t read guides first), you’ll probably end up with a factory which works, but you’ll certainly end up with something that’s difficult to maintain or improve on. You’ll end up with a disorganised mess.
(Then you hear the term “main bus”, and that helps organise things a lot).

The dynamic of the game ends up feeling very similar to programming or electrical engineering.
So much so that, while I think most programmers who play the game find it addictively engaging, there are also those who don’t want to play it. – I think it’s one of two responses: “it’s similar to what I do for work, but without having to do what others tell me to do, and without having to be reliable. Fun!” or “it’s similar to what I do for work, but I don’t benefit from putting in the effort. Why would I do that?”.
I mean, there’s a satisfying feeling of constructing a system which works (as well as ‘debugging’ why some system doesn’t work).

I think complementing this is that usually there are multiple things that you can do to reduce the mess in your factory; and that improvements often have some delay before you see the tangible benefits from them. So there’s often some task you can aim towards that feels satisfying to do. (Sid Meier’s Civilization games are similarly entralling).

Probably “fun is in the eye of the beholder”.
There are parts of Factorio where I think it’s fun for me to come up with my own solution to the problem. There are parts where I’d rather lookup a guide for how to do it on the Factorio wiki, or some YouTube video.

I found it fun to play Factorio with particular challenges/goals in mind. One achievement requires that you craft only the minimal number of items by hand (and use assembly machines to bootstrap the rest). Another achievement was to play the game on non-peaceful, but without using solar power.

“Non-peaceful” mode is the default setting for the enemies’ aggression mode. The player’s factory produces pollution; the enemies react to the pollution by getting stronger and attacking the player every now and then in waves. Whereas, in peaceful mode, enemies will only attack if attacked first (and attacking one enemy base doesn’t ‘aggro’ other enemy bases).
In my experience, non-peaceful mode ‘just’ requires the extra pushback/effort of automatically building (sufficient) ammunition/defenses, etc. – It adds a bit of pressure/flavor to the game, and isn’t extremely stressful, but I prefer to play with peaceful mode.

At the higher end of things, some players enjoy seeing how frequently their factory is able to assemble/launch a rocket (since this requires a well organised factory at significant scale). – I’ve not yet tried doing this.

For the playthroughs I’ve spent significant time on, I inevitably had the same task/notes system I use when programming. (Start the day by writing down status of WIP; write down tasks to-do, and obstacles faced which need to be resolved).


The game was recently released for the Nintendo Switch. I was travelling for a couple of weeks, have a Nintendo Switch, and have enjoyed playing Factorio.

I can vouch that the game scratches the same itch as it does on PC.

The controls are reasonably nice, although using the controller won’t be as fast as using the mouse.

I think if someone were (somehow) playing through Factorio for the first time on the Nintendo Switch, I think they’d opt to play on PC by the time they got to the blue science technologies. (About halfway through the game). – Because at that point, you’ve unlocked trains and the construction robots and solar power and electric furances… there’s lots of stuff which can all be used to improve your factory. (Trains are earlier; but, I didn’t bother assembling rail stuff until after I’d assembled blue science).

I’d bet that the Switch is suited to people having the large post-game factories. I never noticed performance issues in my playing, though.

If someone were wondering whether to by Factorio for PC or for the Switch, I’d say “yes”. Well, I don’t think anyone’s going to regret buying this game. I think PC is the better environment to play it on. But, on the Switch it still stratches the same itch just the same.

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