The horrifically compelling sci-fi construction sandbox Factorio received another major update over the holidays, bringing much-needed performance improvements to the game along with adding a whole new subset of heavyweight military technologies. This update also marks the start of the final stretch of development, with Wube Software announcing that the price of the game will be increasing to $30 later this month.
For players already neck deep into Factorio, the optimizations will probably be the most important change in version 0.16. All those thousands of conveyor belts eventually took their toll on your CPU, and the new system claims to increase performance by as much as 800%. Conveyor belts should also behave properly no matter how far away you are from them, fixing some compression-related issues under the hood.
As nice as having the game running smoothly is, the most exciting addition is artillery. Huge cannons (both in stationary and train-wagon forms), huge shells, and huge firepower. Artillery can either be assigned to engage automatically as if it were a regular (if significantly heavier) turret emplacement, although the Targeting Remote allows you to call out targets up to three times the normal visual range of the gun, allowing you to pop alien nests without risking your neck in a direct assault.
There are also some nice cosmetic tweaks, with an improved world generator backed up with higher resolution terrain sprites. Cliffs can now be found in the world, providing natural barriers that you can build around, or just blast through with a new tier of demolition explosives. A new kind of conveyor filter - splitters - should help optimize factory designs greatly, with you just being able to tell the machine which components should be routed in which direction once you've completed the appropriate research.
According to their development roadmap, the next major update to the game (Version 0.17) will be a major one, overhauling both the early-game experience via redesigned tutorials, revising the campaign gameplay as a whole, and reworking the entire graphical back-end.
You can pick up Factorio for £15/$20 on Steam and Humble now, although the price will be increasing to $30 (and presumably £25) on April 16th, and will stay at that price for the foreseeable future, due to the studio's no discounts policy.