Satisfactory is a game of excess. Why build one steel pipe when you could build 10,000? Factories inevitably sprawl outwards and upwards and become crisscrossed with power lines and conveyor belts, and just getting close enough to click on a particular manufacturer or storage unit can feel like wading through a concrete briar patch. I had to build catwalks and ramps on each side of my four-story factory just to make it kind of convenient to get from one floor to another. So yeah: I'm pretty psyched about the hoverpack, the most convenient addition in Satisfactory's new Update 4.
The hoverpack is designed purely to make building in Satisfactory much easier. The game already has a jetpack, and at first I didn't realize that the hoverpack is a whole new beast. The jetpack is geared towards exploration, and is a lifesaver for descending sheer cliff faces (I carefully built so many spiral staircases down cliff walls to avoid falling to my death). I'm not crazy about the jetpack because it requires a constant fuel source, though, and players aren't crazy about the jetpack for building because it can't hover in place. The hoverpack addresses both criticisms.
The hoverpack doesn't use a supply of fuel you have to carry around in your inventory. Instead, it pulls from your electrical grid, so you have to be fairly close to a power pole or any powered factory building to use it. Unless your power production fails on you, that's hardly a limitation. You can change your altitude with the hoverpack, but once you stop holding a key to ascend or descend, you stick in place.
"This is mostly for building. That's why we limited it to the power system. Of course, you can just keep building power poles and build your way out of your factory with it. But it's not that fast," game director Mark Hofma told me.
I have no doubt some wild players will build power lines across Satisfactory's vast map just for the hell of flying all the way across it with the hoverpack, but it is slower than many of the game's other forms of movement, like the Jetsons-style hypertubes. That was an intentional balance choice, so you can't just casually fly over the whole map, never encountering the alien enemies that add some challenge to exploration. The hoverpack is also a very late-game item: You don't unlock it until Tier 8, the new ceiling on the Satisfactory tech tree.
By the time I reached Tier 7 in Satisfactory last year, I was ready to tear my whole factory down and start over, because I knew I could organize it more efficiently and better design it to pump out the advanced parts I needed. I really wish I'd had a hoverpack during my last hundred hours of base building.
"It completely changes how you can approach building," Hofma said. "Players have always been asking for a top-down view mode to get an overview, something like that, and we were always reluctant because that just changes the game so much." The hoverpack keeps you in first-person, but gives you the opportunity for that bird's eye view of your factory. It also, critically, extends your "interaction range," aka how far away you can be from a building to activate it by pressing E.
You press E on buildings a lot in Satisfactory—to set what part they should be building, or to take items out of a storage unit, or to check how efficiently something's performing. Normally you have to pretty much press your nose against a building to interact with it, but when you're hovering you can click from what feels like about 50 feet away. It's like, powerful laser pointer distance.
One other small thing I love about the jetpack: it subtly deserves a spot on our list of the best hand animations in games, because your character accurately moves a thumbstick in their left hand that mirrors your WASDing. Delightful!
Satisfactory Update 4 hits the game's public experimental branch today, and should move to the main branch after a month or so of bug fixing.