Goat protagonist Pilgor is back wreaking havoc in a new, better-looking environment full of uncanny valley NPCs. And that’s all we ask of him, really. Awkward-to-master controls and frustrating yet fun ragdoll physics still sit firmly at the centre of the experience, but the introduction of robust open-world mechanics provides a greater sense of purpose. Goat Towers serve as fast-travel waypoints that you scale and pair with to open up new parts of the map. There are myriad missions to seek out and complete, too, ranging from ‘smack someone with a fish 15 times’ to ‘make out with a whale’. This creates hundreds of moreish pockets of goaty gameplay. Working through certain tasks gives you ‘Illuminati Points’, which let you open up new wings of your off-map hub, a castle fit for a goat king.
Elsewhere, mini-missions earn you Instinct, a currency you can use to unlock cosmetics such as shoes shaped like human feet or the disembodied face of a robot homemaker that shoots lasers out of its eyes. Dressing my goat in new, avant-garde ensembles was a consistent delight. It’s a more focused gameplay loop than its predecessor, then, but the charming randomness of the original isn’t lost. Fan-favourite weapons of chaos like the unwieldy jetpack are still hidden in San Angora’s hills, and you’ll stumble across secret areas lampooning corners of pop culture every five minutes.
When you do find a mission, you’re confronted with purposefully vague descriptions like ‘Become your Final Form!’. The lack of parameters was frustrating at times, but more often than not led to thoughtful solutions. Goat Simulator 3 rarely forces you down linear paths, but this approach also opens the door for workarounds involving your abilities that can feel like cheating. The sheer variety of gear combinations had me gliding, boosting, absorbing, and summoning (often all at once).
Goat Simulator 3 starts to chug and sputter when pushed to its limits, however, with lots of clipping, freezing, and unexpected resets. And while bugs might fit the game’s purposefully janky style, repeatedly having your location forcibly reset can feel like hitting your head against a wall.
Even so, this sequel turned threequel is a definite upgrade. By beefing up its rudimentary gameplay with new mechanics and an alluring world that feels alive with absurdity and Easter eggs to uncover, Coffee Stain doubles down on the humour and fun that shone in the original.
Goat Simulator 3’s funniest moments are in re-creations of levels from such games as P.T., Wolfenstein, and Counter-Strike. Hidden amongst the angry NPCs and faux name-brand shops, their essence is faithfully captured -- apart from the goat in the clown costume centre of the frame, that is.
A worthy, iterative sequel that steps out of its own meme-filled shadow.
Genre Simulation | Format [PS5] / PS4 / XB X/S / XBO / PC | Developer Coffee Stain North AB | Publisher Coffee Stain Publishing AB | Price £24.99 | Release Out now | Social @GoatSimulator