Goat Simulator 3, the direct follow-up to 2014’s original Goat Simulator, may be the most inaccurate sim ever made, but that’s fine. Deliberate stuttering can be both hilarious and quirky, and the wacky, goat-obsessed world lends an appropriately tongue-in-cheek tone to wild procedurals. Playing Goat Simulator 3 by itself is fun and frivolous, but ultimately lacks substance beyond checking quest boxes. But playing with friends is a different experience, opening the way to a whole new level of mischief.
If players find themselves thinking about the question, “What happened to Goat Simulator 2?” they’ve encountered the game’s first joke, and it’s a good indication of what’s to come. Goat Simulator 3 opens with a Skyrim parody, with 4 goats facing each other in a cart while a farmer hangs around. The farmer, one of the few real characters in the game, made it clear that the goat protagonist does appear in the video game. He goes on a long monologue, ends up joking in the game’s instructions, and wonders why players aren’t skipping scenes.
Mistakes come fast and hard, and only part of it is good laughs, depending on taste of course. Swedish developer Coffee Stain Studios seems to have taken a spray-and-pray approach, and is happy with the few that stick and similar duds. Even bad, cheesy, or just silly jokes seem to be part of the fun. The real laughs come from established world rules that allow for some disastrous fun. This is at the heart of what makes Goat Simulator 3 great, especially in multiplayer.
The first thing the player is prompted to do is “sync” with the nearby Goat Tower, thus revealing a portion of the map and most of the available quests. Anyone who has played an open world game in the past fifteen years or so will recognize this mechanic. In this case, it functions both as the intended map display and as an emulation of the numerous other games that use the same system. Much of the game humor in Goat simulator 3 goes like this. Using a mechanic that has become a clich is at the same time a joke.
Once players sync, they can enter the tower and reveal the gist of the gameplay, at least from a narrative perspective. There is a gate inside the tower with several seals on it. As players complete quests, they’ll earn points, a certain number of points increasing their “Illuminati Rank” and breaking one of the seals. This also reveals new areas of the castle, which contain secret hints, decoration customization, and more. The main goal is to release the final seal and access what is beyond.
To complete quests and travel the world, players use their goat power : to grab things, bump things and triple jump with their sticky tongues. New gear will be unlocked at a steady rate through quests, and many grant unique abilities. The sheer amount of available equipment yields a ton of customization, allowing players to put together some really broken but interesting characters. Some abilities provide real upgrades or benefits, like rocket boots. Others are a sticky disaster, like a rocket pack that makes a goat wobble uncontrollably at high speeds. It’s a toss-up about which type of ability is more interesting.
Goat Simulator 3 is designed to allow players to make as many Chaos Goats as possible With multiple equipment slots, players will inevitably have more than one ability at a time. Note that multiple will be activated with the same input. Boosting forward and launching a fish out of a goat helmet while opening a paraglider is a fairly normal thing to do. But it can also lead to bad combinations that hinder the game. While this is in keeping with the humble spirit of the game, it also leads to frequent visits to the inventory menu – interrupting the fun.
Missions spread around the map include silly, simple tasks like licking objects and placing them somewhere or hitting something. The game shows little in the way of challenge, and players looking for some meaty gameplay won’t find it. Some players’ main motivation is to check off tasks on a list, but for completionists, there are better games with more compelling action.
The biggest problem with Goat Simulator 3 is that, as a single-player experience, it simply doesn’t offer enough fun. The quests are easily tiresome, and the main goal of unlocking the tower seal is rather hollow. Players can certainly do a lot of stupid things on their own, but being stupid for stupid’s sake can be a tedious experience that quickly becomes tedious. It’s a formless game, not a real game.
For what it lacks in single-player experience, Goat Simulator 3 makes up for it by delivering great and unexpected party gameplay. A few goats brewing their own unique style of chaos, seeing these forces collide, often literally, leads to some spectacular shattering performances. A simple action, like going from one target to another, turns into a savage race to see who can knock their goat companions the farthest – or innocent citizens. The game excels at placing NPCs in just the right place, eager for headbutts straight up in the crotch, off cliffs, and into the setting sun. With crap like this constantly scattered across the world, it’s nearly impossible to keep a herd of goats on track, but that’s the beauty of Goat Simulator 3.
There are some multiplayer minigames in the world that only friends can play, and they’re the best part of the game. Golf, derby car battles, Splatoon parodies, and more give structure to the invisible multiplayer chaos, but they all keep the game light-heartedly ridiculous. Between these games, quests, and random distractions, it’s possible to find plenty of entertainment for a group of friends. Playing this game alone is missing the best parts.
In the right context, Goat Simulator 3’s uniquely humorous, wonderfully broken world is a delightful playground. While the single-player experience can be lackluster, bordering on boring, the potential for multiplayer is huge. The world and mechanics are set up so that the slightest provocation can cause the world to unravel with comical results. Despite its flaws, Goat Simulator 3 deserves to shine as a party game.
Goat Simulator 3 is now available on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant obtained the PC code for this review.