If you’re in a house or building right now, then chances are it was put together with some heavy machinery involved. We’ve all seen them. And typically kids love to play with toys resembling them, myself included. But what about controlling a real one? Well, while most of us don’t get that chance, at least we have simulators to fill that void. And that’s where Astragon’s Construction Simulator 3 on Nintendo Switch comes in.
Big jobs, big machines
The variety of jobs that Construction Simulator 3 has on offer is pretty notable. There’s crane operation, excavation/digging, cement mixing and pouring, dump trucking, machinery/goods transport, roadworks (paving and demolition), forklifting, and dirt/asphalt compacting. You may notice that in this extensive list, there’s no mention of good ol’ demolition. So sadly, there are no wrecking balls or TNT to be found here. It really would’ve been rad though… you know, just to observe the physics. Right… physics.
With such a wealth of jobs to carry out, you’ll need the right tools for the job. Construction Simulator 3 comes loaded with a healthy selection of licensed vehicles to cover these different aspects of construction. You’ll see well-known brands like CAT and MAN represented here, and the models that accompany them are fairly detailed. While they’re not ultra-realistic, they do look presentable. The heavy roar of the engines isn’t as present here as I’d prefer, but the SFX are still passable.
Acquiring machines is as simple as you’d expect: buy or rent. Especially in the early stages, you won’t need a huge variety of machines on hand at all times. Thus, renting is the most economically viable route. But as you amass a larger fleet later on, maintenance expenses will come into play. That said, the various jobs do pay well, and if you’re super strapped for cash, you can always take out a bank loan.
Out of every bit of machinery and job type I’ve tried, my least favorite would be excavation. These types of jobs often take relatively long compared to others. One such job, where I was building a pond outside of a house, took nearly two hours. Ninety minutes of that was spent earth-moving, so be prepared to hunker down when digging holes is on the manifest.
That said, no matter which job you’re given, the execution is fairly simple. There’s a handy gauge that fills on the top-right of the screen, thus showing you how close to completion you are; you don’t even need to be totally perfect or fully complete for this to fill up. Another “helper” feature is the Construction View, a night vision-like view that will show you what areas can be interacted with and what machine needs to do it. There’s also a waypoint system to guide you wherever you need to go across the game’s open-world map.
All in a day’s work
There are two different types of jobs that you can take on: Contracts and Campaign missions. Contracts are small tasks that are generated in sets of three every 10 minutes. They can be completed in just a handful of minutes and will net you a little profit. For a bigger bank, you’ll need to tackle the Campaign missions. These are often multi-stage operations that will have you constructing more complex structures and often require a variety of machines. These are the ones that will take up a huge chunk of your time but will push the game’s progress further.
As you complete each job, on top of your paycheck you’ll also gain XP points. These will cause your profile to level up, giving you access to more machines, jobs, and eventually new parts of the map. (There are two unlockable sections.) Construction Simulator 3 also features a skill tree, allowing you to spend skill points on different perks. For example, one perk will increase the amount of money and XP you’ll get from each job. For an additional challenge and monetary incentive, there are also 120 floating medals scattered throughout the map to find using the Construction View. They each will award you 1000 credits, meaning that there are actually 120,000 “free” credits in the map alone.
No matter what you find yourself doing, Construction Simulator 3 falls in line with other simulators. By nature, it’s mundane and repetitive. However, it is satisfying completing different jobs using the healthy variety of machines. My only true gripe with this package is how it’s presented.
It’s a fixer-upper
Construction Simulator 2 launched around this same time last year and shares a lot with its successor. The formula remains the same, though Construction Simulator 3 does feature some quality-of-life improvements such as the addition of a cockpit view. However, it doesn’t look like the developers have done much to build upon the efficiency of the engine.
Most simulators don’t need high frame rates to be playable due to their slow-paced gameplay, but it is preferable. Construction Simulator 3 struggles to maintain a solid 30 FPS on Switch, except for in very light areas or the map. It’ll often run in the range of the 20s — passable, but not ideal. Interestingly enough, however, I found that the handheld mode is actually superior in this case. Due to running at 720p, the game suddenly performs far better while maintaining its already decent graphical fidelity. Not only this, but the touchscreen is actually put to use (This is rare.) to easily pan and zoom the camera. So, Nintendo Switch Lite owners in particular actually win a bit here. It would be nice if performance in docked mode could be adjusted in a future update, but even so, that doesn’t make Construction Simulator 3 a shoddy package.
Get the job done
Construction Simulator 3 is a small step forward for the franchise. It doesn’t do much wildly differently from its predecessor, but that was already a fairly decent sim experience. There are other construction sims on Nintendo Switch, and this remains as the best I’ve played so far. That said, I would like to see a few more additions in later entries.
On top of missing job types like demolition, it would also be nice to see the inclusion of customization. In-depth landscaping and painting of buildings would be great, along with other stuff like mining and debris removal.
Still, if you’d like a simulator to live out your dreams of virtual Bob the Builder, Construction Simulator 3 can get the job done with the tools it has on hand.
A review code was provided by the publisher.