How do you even begin to talk about a game like Goat Simulator 3? I could sit here and write all the crazy things that happened to my Goat and me during my time with it, but that would spoil so much. Despite having finished it and seeing the credits roll, I can’t tell you what the game is about. But while the concept undoubtedly baffles my old man brain, there is one thing I do know about Goat Simulator 3. It’s really stupid but really fun. And isn’t that enough?
Despite the title, Goat Simulator 3 is the second mainline Goat Simulator game. Setting the tone for the game’s humour, creative director Santiago Ferrero reckons it was named that because “God of War: Ragnarok was already taken”. Putting that unfortunate situation aside, Goat Simulator 3 does a fantastic job of building upon the foundations of the first game. As you’d expect, you play as a goat. As you might not expect, you’re thrown into the world on the back of a trailer in a sequence that mimics the opening to Skyrim. So yeah, Goat Simulator 3 is trying to be funny.
This time, your playground is San Angora, which is a bit different from the previous game. It’s bigger, though not as big as the open worlds most players would be accustomed to today. Goat Simulator 3 makes up for this with the sheer density of the map. It’s a real playground and a joy to mess around in. The general goal of the game is to wreak havoc to see how it plays out. After all, a lot of the original game’s notoriety came from the virality of the moments. Goat Simulator 3 is bound to see the same type of attention.
But there’s an admirable effort here to try and make Goat Simulator 3 more of a game with some structure. The open world is still there to play around in, but San Angora is peppered with activities called “Events” to complete. Each of them is usually a joke – help a Swedish person build some flatpacked furniture, kick some tree-hugging hippies off trees to help them grow, play the imperial march on church bells. There’s a nice variety of activities to do here that, more often than not, have funny punchlines.
But there are, of course, some moments where it can get a little bit cringe, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Goat Simulator 3 made me laugh on more than one occasion. To tell you everything I enjoyed about this game would be neglectful and irresponsible – the absurdity of these situations is in and of itself funny. But just know that no matter what type of gamer you are, whether you played Wolfenstein to Counter-Strike to Fortnite, Goat Simulator 3 no doubt does a good job at playing to a wide audience.
Besides events, there are hundreds of “Instincts” to complete, too, though these aren’t mandatory to unlock anything or finish the story. Instead, completing them unlocks currency that can be exchanged for gear. Many of these Instincts feel closer to what was on offer in the first game – hit ten people with a specific item or drive a certain distance in a particular vehicle. They’re menial tasks and busy work. But they help make Goat Simulator 3 feel more fleshed out as a game.
Continuing this theme, Goat Simulator 3 rewards completion of Events with rankings that determine how high up in the Illuminati you are. Each rank you’re in expands your home base, similar to the castle from the first game. Finishing all the grades leads to the game’s final “boss” battle. I really appreciate the intention to better flesh out Goat Simulator 3 and give it more structure, but it doesn’t quite do as much with the concept as it could.
For one, I can’t help but feel that Goat Simulator 3 has become the thing that it’s satirising at points. The structure is like any open-world game of the last decade. Climb some towers, reveal some activities, complete some checklists and fill some progress meters to do it all again. Thankfully, Goat Simulator 3’s ridiculous physics and gameplay keep the game fun even if it doesn’t do everything it sets out to.
So much of Goat Simulator 3 is centered around unlocking gear, and for a good reason. So much of the gear can make your Goat fabulous and change form completely. Eventually, you can play as a giraffe, human, or shark. So much of the gear also comes with unique abilities designed to facilitate your goal of wreaking havoc and causing chaos. Rocket boots, laser beams, pizza launchers, magic beanstalk seeds; you name it, it’s probably in Goat Simulator 3 as a wearable. While I loved the huge slew of equipment and abilities, I often wished they were utilised more in the puzzles during the events.
Besides Events and Instincts, Goat Simulator 3 also features many minigames to jump into with friends. Accessible from the map, each of them allows up to four goats to battle it out in all kinds of precarious situations. Soccer, king of the hill, racing, demolition derbies. There’s a lot to do here, and the physics and gameplay upon which Goat Simulator 3 is built only make each of them funnier than it has any right to be.
More impressively, Goat Simulator 3 also supports both online and split-screen multiplayer. Online is missing the oft-included crossplay options, but including split-screen is a fantastic touch. While doing so drops the framerate down to an (apparently controversial) thirty frames per second, it was pretty impressive to see how much crazy shit I and three friends could conjure up without the game crashing. Splitscreen is oft forgotten as games have grown more complex, but for Goat Simulator 3 to both have a mode and one that works is to be commended.
So while you’ll be done with Goat Simulator 3’s simplistic story mode in about six or so hours, everything that remains after the credits have finished rolling make it stand out. A dense and fun open playground to mess around in with hundreds of items. With friends, either online or off, the sheer stupidity and chaotic nature of everything is bound to make you smile. And isn’t that what games should be about?
THE XBOX SERIES X VERSION WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL COPY OF THE GAME WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Goat Simulator 3 is a remarkable improvement on the original in practically every way, with a great variety of gear to wreak havoc with. While the attempt to introduce a story mode is satisfactory at best, the dedication to offering fun and robust multiplayer modes easily elevates Goat Simulator 3 to be greater than the sum of its parts.