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We went on a video tour of Satisfactory's long-awaited Update 4

Last year I spent a good chunk of the spring and summer obsessing over Satisfactory, starting with a humble factory pumping out iron plates and rods and graduating to a massive gigafactory powered by a row of nuclear reactors built in the shadow of a towering alien tree half a world away. This game grabbed me hard—I love how it balances objectives with player expression, giving you construction goals to work towards but immense freedom in how and where you design your factory. It's freeform enough that if you want a break from building, you can strike out and explore and find new resources or sites to build new factories, or just take in a gorgeous view. 

I only stopped playing Satisfactory because I reached the top of the final tech tier currently available in Early Access, and decided to wait for the next big update to start building all over again. Finally, after launching Satisfactory on Steam and releasing some smaller in-betweener patches, Satisfactory's Update 4 is here. It's available on the game's experimental branch today (on Steam, just right click the game and opt-in on the Betas tab).

In the video above, game director Mark Hofma walks me through almost every new addition in Update 4. There's a lot here: Some "smaller" quality of life features, like power stations that let you disable power to chunks of your factory at a time, will still be thrilling to anyone who's already played Satisfactory and knows the pain of tripping their power grid with one too many manufacturers.

The meat of the update lies in new additions to that highest tech tiers, Tier 7 and a newly added Tier 8, including an overhaul to nuclear energy production and the addition of a new resource: Nitrogen gas. Until this update, Satisfactory's pipes were only for water and oil, but they now work for gases, too, which will be important for advanced late-game production. Coffee Stain also used nitrogen as an excuse to change up how you harvest liquids and gases, introducing a new building to make it more distinct from mining solid minerals like iron. You now have to build multiple nodes around an extraction point, almost like oil wells in an oil field. It's a little more work, but the reward is more variety, and a bigger difference between finding a so-so vein and a great one. Prior to this update, you could access nuclear power in Tier 7, but it's now a more involved process.

While those are some big fundamental changes to how building in Satisfactory works, they may not be Update 4's most important. There are drones now, that can carry your resources long distances across the map. There's a zipline tool for riding around on power lines that will make getting around your factory way easier. There's even a new hoverpack designed to assist building that may make veteran players faint with excitement.

Maybe I've made a huge oversight by waiting this long to mention that you can also build a particle accelerator now, and it outputs an item called "nuclear pasta." But honestly, it's hard to know what to really emphasize in this update, because even something as simple as the new power stations (which have a delicious chunky lever you pull down in first person to switch on) will be a Big Deal to people who get as deep into Satisfactory as I did. And my factory was seriously small time compared to some of the builds out there.

But yeah—nuclear pasta. Probably shouldn't eat it, but you should definitely spend 100 hours of your life building a particle accelerator that can manufacture it. That's the rest of my March sorted. Because many of the new additions are late-game, I haven't built them all in my dusty 2020 factory yet. But Update 4 feels like the right time to start fresh. If you'd rather wait for Coffee Stain to work out whatever bugs pop up in the experimental release, Update 4 should go live on the main build of Satisfactory in a month or so.

When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.