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Coffee Stain has made the welcome announcement that it’s bringing its weird and wacky Goat Simulator 3 to mobile devices – and we were fortunate enough to get some hands-on time behind closed doors a couple of months ago.
When I was invited to try “a new Goat Simulator experience” at this year’s Gamescom, I was intrigued – the series has never been one for doing things by the numbers, so when we responded I had no idea what to expect. Once we were told that a mobile version of the madcap co-op sandbox was heading to mobile I’ll admit – I was a little sceptical, as the game’s deliberately freeform nature (the entire series even started off as a deliberately rudimentary April Fool’s gag from a game jam) surely would make it difficult to optimise enough to bring to handheld devices?
And yet, the first thing that struck me when I got my hands on the build was how well it actually ran, and how good it looked. Despite the fact that I was playing the game on a mobile, on first appearances it was almost indistinguishable from the bigger console version. Yes, there’s of course some compromises going on at a basic level with textures and the like – if only to keep the game’s footprint small enough to not fill the space of a entire phone in one app – but to draw the world and its impressive population in enough detail to make it feel comparable on much less powerful hardware is still no mean feat. And it’s not just in how it looks too – play was smooth as butter, even with a fair amount of physics-based chaos as we goats bounced around the world and interacted with the environment. (We had one minor crash during our play session that required a restart – but we should stress we were of course playing on a relatively early build.)
I say goats there for a reason – for my play session, I was paired up with a member of the development team, which meant all of this technical wizardry was even working with full two player co-op play. Literally, the entire open world sandbox as seen in 3, missions, mini-games and all were ours for the exploring on our phone, and the levels of technical wizardry that have gone into making this possible are seriously impressive. While we may now be in an age where the smartphones in our pocket are about as powerful as the consoles in front of our televisions just a few years ago, not to mention Steam Decks giving portable gamers so many choices, there’s still something about seeing a current-gen game shrunk down to a handheld size on the slab on your pocket.
So off we went, bounding around the open world, headbutting NPCs, knocking over items and smashing up the insides of buildings. It’s all classic Goat Simulator stuff of course, with some structure included in the form of missions and mini-games. They include the ones you know and love from the bigger game and are fairly self explanatory – like Hoofball, the Floor is Lava and the King of the Hill mode, as you bounce around the arena collecting crowns to score and beat your fellow goat.
There’s plenty to do – while the world is pretty much a sandbox that lets you get on with things in any order – there’s also a bunch of challenges and goals for you to tick off, and collectibles to hunt down. If you’ve not played Goat Simulator 3 yet or are mostly only familiar with the first game then we can also confirm all the weird and unexpected absurdities from the home versions are in there like driving vehicles and a whole bunch of cosmetics, costumes and more to dress up with. While we didn’t really get chance to experience much of it – for obvious reasons – during our hands-on, we’re told the entire story, as rudimentary as it is – is in there too.
There is a caveat or two to this, of course – the mobile version only supports up to two player co-op play, so unfortunately there’s no groups of four goats (or indeed, any of the other farmyard animals you can play as) – and for me, it did still suffer slightly from the usual issues I have with controls overlayed on a touchscreen where sometimes my own fingers block my view, but it was certainly no more egregious than the best third person mobile games of its ilk, so if you’re used to that then you’ll be flying along here with no issues.
In fact, the freeform, loose nature of Goat Simulator 3 really suits the mobile platform when it comes down to it. Something to brainlessly pick up and play while you wait for the bus, or to while away a few mindless hours on the phone rather than just scrolling through Tiktok – mobile seems a great fit for the sandbox. So there’s plenty of reasons to look forward to Goat Simulator 3 when it launches on mobile. A specific date hasn’t been revealed for Goat Simulator 3 Mobile’s release – but you can pre-order on Google Play and the Apple Store right now.