Satisfactory: what have you done to Pete?

My other-half is a fan of Tom Clancy’s The Division series. Anyone who visits us on Twitch when we’re live will realise this – not necessarily because we’re streaming the game, which happens infrequently now, but because it always seems to come up in his conversation.

Pete bought the first title for himself twice when it came out in March 2016: a copy on the Xbox One so he could play with friend-of-the-blog Ben every week, and another copy for his laptop for those evenings when he played alone. A couple of years later, the release of The Division 2 had been scheduled for March 2019 so I pre-ordered the game for him for Christmas in 2018 and he patiently waited for its arrival. When the day finally came, he went straight out and picked up another copy for the Xbox again so he could join in with Ben.

Let me give you a section from a post written by Ben last year in case it’s not yet obvious just how much he adores this series: “Pete loves The Division. I’ve never known him be so passionate about any other game. He loves the setting, the look and most importantly the grind. Long after I was bored (and frustrated) with the bullet-sponge baddies, Pete was playing it on multiple systems and ranking up his characters to super powerful levels. He’s an absolute Division nut and his enthusiasm is infectious.”

I guess The Division to him is the same as The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) to me, in that they’re titles we have an ongoing addiction to. We might not touch them for several months although they remain installed on our PCs; then gradually we’ll start feeling that familiar pull and end up diving straight back in, several weeks or months of evenings filled with constant playing. The controllers will then be put down in favour of some other title but it won’t be long before we make yet another return to the grind.

But something has changed and a recent event is making me doubt whether my other-half is the main I thought I knew. When he tried to run The Division 2 to play with Ellen from Ace Asunder and friend-of-the-blog Phil this month and realised our old machine could no longer cope, his reaction was just so small – nothing at all like the one of a person who’s truly addicted to the series. In my shock, I left the room and wandered into the kitchen to make tea; but listening to Pete and Phil talk I realised there was another presence in our relationship.

I feel so stupid now because I should have noticed the signs. Take the Saturday morning when I found my husband in the kitchen for instance. He was scribbling away on a notepad and the scraps of paper around him revealed mysterious diagrams; and when I asked him what he was up to, he told me he was working out a plan for his factory in Satisfactory. Later that evening when we were supposed to be streaming Final Fantasy XIII, he kept leaving his seat to check his laptop and see how the production of metal plates was coming along.

Then there was the day afterwards when I found him on his laptop again and this time talking to the lizard doggo. All through his previous streams he’d been threatening to hurt the cute orange creature because it kept getting under his character’s feet, and now he was saying that it was a ‘good boy’ because it had brought him another Power Slug. Both the cat and I looked at him in astonishment, both of us aware that the doggo was getting more attention from Pete than we were.

Move over, Tom Clancy – the streets of Washington, DC have been left behind for the unknown planet of Massage-2(AB)b in Satisfactory. This game has been on in our house most evenings this month and when my other-half isn’t playing himself, he’s either reading articles about how he can make his factory better or watching Phil stream his playthrough so they can share the latest tips they’ve picked up. With over 150 hours between them at the time of writing, I think it’s safe to say these lads have found a new love.

Pete and I first became aware of Satisfactory when it made an appearance in my Steam discovery queue in July. Neither of us were interested at first because ‘an open-world factory building game’ didn’t seem all that exciting despite the amusing trailer; but he went on to watch several of his favourite streamers play it and decided he wanted to try it for himself. Although we don’t usually buy early access titles, this one is pretty polished and contains a lot of content even at this stage.

When you consider how much my other-half enjoys action games and how frequently he mentions The Division during our streams, it may seem strange that he’s been sucked into something like Coffee Stain Studios’ resource management project. I can see why he’s attracted to it though. He’s always loved the grind and putting the effort into seeing his stats and levels rise, and this is exactly what Satisfactory gives him in a continuous stream – minus the explosions and gunfire.

I’m not really into base-building titles and so it’s not one I’d pick up myself, but there’s something oddly relaxing about watching Pete play and making sure his conveyer belts are in parallel lines. I do prefer the exploration element though and like it when he goes off sightseeing with Phil in a co-op session. I want to see what’s lurking in that cave, hiding behind that mountain or concealed among all that green gas, and it’s even better knowing that lizard doggo might make an appearance at any moment.

I do wonder how the gameplay and story is going to progress though. I mean, the protagonist has arrived on a new planet with the aim of harvesting its natural resources and ‘putting them to good use’. The Steam page says you can ‘conquer nature by building massive factories across the land’ and ‘expand wherever and however you want’. That surely can’t be good news for the land or the alien creatures which inhabit it and I wonder if this is going to be touched on later on in the title.

For now though, Pete is happy with building more conveyer belts and figuring out how to get to the next milestone. Let’s see if The Division is able to pull him back, or if his heart has now been truly given to the lizard doggo.