Goat Simulator 3 Preview

Goat Simulator 3 Hands-On Preview – An Even Wilder Sandbox

We played Goat Simulator 3!

I’ll admit, I missed the Goat Simulator train back in 2014. While its cultural impact is clear in the wake of dozens of other emergent, physics-based sandbox or slapstick multiplayer games, it had always struck me as a flash in the pan kind of moment. Born of the social media age where a product is often only as good as its viral campaign, Goat Simulator would have done absolute numbers on TikTok if the timelines had matched up.


So how does a video game developed almost exclusively as a joke wind up with a full-blown sequel eight years later? And how does the Goat Sim “formula” stack up in a game designed with an intent toward actual scope and depth? Those are the questions I had going into a lengthy hands-on demo of Goat Simulator 3 at Gamescom this week, where I also got to chat with CEO of Coffee Stain North, Sebastian Eriksson and Creative Director, Santiago Ferrero.

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

Where I didn’t expect the game to click with me given my preference for games that give me at least some direction, I found that Goat Simulator 3 actually does a commendable job at showing you cool things to see and do, it’s just that it also revels in thwarting your every effort to do them.

There is a semblance of a story this time around to do with the goal illuminati (I think?) and something of a sense of progression if you’re looking for it. There’s also the ability to drive around in a car as a giraffe, with three other giraffes stuffed in for the ride. I know which scenario I chose during our hands-on session. I wanted to explore what content the game had to offer me, at least initially, but within a matter of seconds I found myself completely overtaken with the desire to simply screw with the three other members of the press that had the misfortune to be playing alongside me.

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

“Goat Simulator 3 is what happens between point A and point B”

– Santiago Ferrero, Creative Director

Our demo of the game started us off in one small portion of what is an enormous-looking map in comparison to the original (in fact, Eriksson tells me it’s got 18 times the ‘square goatage’ of the first game), and although I technically could have travelled wherever I liked it felt as though every square inch of space here has been packed with things to see, do or headbutt. I started by learning how to ram into things, drag objects around with my tongue, intentionally make my goat ragdoll, intentionally make my goat ‘unragdoll’ and vocalise as goats do best, but soon found there’s much, much more than that.

My very first major discovery was a rocket launcher accessory, if that paints a picture of the speed at which things escalate in Goat Sim 3. An easy favourite find during our preview session was the saddle accessory that allows you to force another player to ride on your back, and it stacks so if they’re also using it they can do the same to the next player. Four animals of varying sizes strapped to each other and barreling through dense environments? Perfect carnage.

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

I think a lot of players with all of their imagination have kept the original going, even to this day, like we have found a lot of kids are still playing, still finding new ways to interact with the world and such. And we’ve designed systems that we’ve worked into the sandbox world that have made that so much more viable,” explains Eriksson. 

“But we also knew that the open endedness of it would deflect some types of players. So we kind of wanted to give you some sort of red thread to follow along. And give you more suggestions on how to have fun in this world. So we built systems around that, but not too intrusive. It’s not a linear experience, it still plays to its strengths as a sandbox game. But I think it’s more appealing to more types of players this time around.”

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

The Coffee Stain team also introduced us to Goat Simulator 3’s idea of mini-games, and one of its core design philosophies that I find incredibly intriguing. See, there are seven of these quickfire activities (at present) in the game and while you’ll reportedly find and unlock them in particular places, once they’re there anybody in a party can activate them at any point in the map. We tested this out with a game of King of the Hill, which asks players to stand at the topmost point of a set area for as long as they can to accrue points while the others attempt to do the same.

We first played the game on a stack of hay bales, which worked great as we clambered for the spot of top bale, but then it was entirely possible to fire up the same activity on top of a barn or an impossibly-steep cliff or even surrounded by water. The team says that the only rule is there are no rules, and if you want to compete in mini-games with your friends on a completely uneven field, as a laser-shooting shark that can fly, so be it.

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

“It’s kind of enhancing and creating more bugs that are… y’know the fun ones,” Erikkson jokes. “You start somewhere with something like Hoofball and someone’s goal’s maybe on the ground and the other person’s is on a tower or something. And that’s part of the fun. It feels buggy, and when you’re told you need to be up there it might feel unfair, but also you just go with it.”

The thing that truly dawned on me during my hands-on with Goat Simulator 3 is that the ‘sandbox’ nature of the game is probably one of the truest examples of the term in gaming to date. An overly bold claim, maybe, but the thing that really cinches is the game’s numerous bugs. Yep, this is a game set to be as buggy and quirky as its predecessor, probably even more so.

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

Ferrero tells me that, while any glitches or issues that literally brought the game to a halt or cropped up so often as to be a hindrance were dealt with, the idea of restricting what players could do in order to avoid unexpected behaviour from the game flew in the face of what Goat Sim is about. In essence, breaking the game is just another example of choice and consequence. Yes, you can do just about anything you want with the tools and mechanics provided, but if something goes awry that’s on you.

“We want it to feel like a toolbox, like a sandbox and give all of the power to the players and in doing so, well you can’t do that without having some bugs. Because if we start limiting that, we’d start limiting the players and what they could do.”

Goat Simulator 3 Preview

I’m super keen to delve even deeper into Goat Simulator 3, especially when it comes to the plethora of unlockable cosmetics and gear that I didn’t get a chance to see. I may not have seen the appeal of the original Goat Simulator’s Twitch-baiting zaniness, but I’m incredibly taken with Coffee Stain’s efforts to take everything that people loved about that game and broaden both the scope and potential audience even further.

Oh, and the reason for skipping Goat Simulator 2 and going straight to 3? Ferrero reckons it’s a pun on ‘GOTY’, as in ‘GOAT3.’, so make of that what you will.     

Goat Simulator 3 is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC on November 17, 2022. The cheapest copy is currently $49 with free shipping on Amazon.

The Author of this article traveled to Gamescom as a guest of PLAION.