Games like Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft really paved the way toward improving the sandbox genre, especially since you are now able to explore almost unlimited worlds and create whatever you want within them, using the materials you find throughout the environment. On the other hand, new games also come with new ideas and gameplay gimmicks, some of which are really ingenious and open the way to exciting possibilities.
Settle on an alien planet
Factorio is one of these sandbox games that took a bit of inspiration from a lot of sources, although the main one would have to be Minecraft yet again. Despite that, beside the comparable resource gathering and crafting mechanics, the two titles are quite different from each other, especially when you consider their end goals and the overall atmosphere.
In Factorio, you start off in a desolated environment somewhere on an alien planet, where danger lurks at every corner and you are basically all alone. In order to survive, you have to start using the environment to your advantage and gather enough resources to set up a base of operations, as well as research new technology and claim the lands under your total control.
Build and automate factories
The true magic of the game, however, lies in the factory building mechanics, hence its name. Although you start by mining minerals with a pickaxe, you quickly learn how to automate the process and build extraction facilities, which do the work for you. Not only that, but you can also design them in such a way that the resources are automatically collected, moved and manufactured without your manual intervention, by building complicated conveyor belts to carry the materials around the planet.
Whenever the factories become too large and the conveyor belts stop being efficient, trains come into play, which transport the goods across longer distances and in larger quantities. All of these things require electricity to function, however, which means that you need to produce it somehow, whether it's coal, or clean solar energy. If you choose the former, you better prepare for an alien invasion, since the inhabitants of the planet do not enjoy pollution at all and they will join their forces to destroy your furnaces.
Exciting gameplay that is constantly being improved
Since Factorio is still being developed, there are many things that are not perfected yet, but there are also new features added every few weeks. If you're a fan of the sandbox genre and you enjoy building things from scratch, you'd better keep an eye on this gem.