The Cycle: Frontier aims to be something different. With that in mind, and without sounding too cynical, other than self-published developers and indie studios, we don’t see a lot of bravery in the gaming industry. Companies continue to play it safe and recoup some of the lost ground during the pandemic.
It feels like few games in the last couple of years have truly broken the mould and forged a new path that will take us into the next generation of PC gaming. Though notable titles such as Elden Ring, It Takes Two, Psychonauts and Ghostwire: Tokyo could be considered exceptions.
It truly is refreshing then, when we hear that Yager – an indie development studio out of Berlin, Germany – developed The Cycle: Frontier with a different mindset altogether.
“The Cycle started out as a concept in one of our internal Pitch Jam sessions, where we spend the day brainstorming ideas for games that we believe will define the industry over the next five years,” says Joakim Ohlander, technical director at Yager, in a recent online seminar hosted by games:net berlinbrandenburg.
Yager’s pedigree is strong for an indie development studio. Their portfolio includes their first title, Yager (created using their own Yager game engine). The team is also responsible for critically acclaimed and award winning Spec Ops: The Line, and epic space combat shooter, Dreadnought.
From space combat to third-person warfare, Yager has taken on genres that rely on staunch support from their fan base. So far, they have absolutely gained a loyal following. Spec Ops: The Line still continues to amass hundreds of players every month on Steam. Dreadnought, too, commands over a hundred players every month after four years in circulation.
Certainly their most ambitious project so far, The Cycle: Frontier looks ready to win over fans of the most divisive genre known to gamers: Battle Royale.
What Is The Cycle: Frontier?
To simply call The Cycle a Battle Royale game is a little like calling Elite: Dangerous a flight sim. Reviewers have had a hard time pinning The Cycle to just one genre, and running out of room in the by-line. This author included.
“From the moment you drop down onto this beautiful planet, you have 20 minutes to fight for glory before you escape,” Ohlander explains. “This is not a traditional game about killing and winning; it’s about completing objectives and managing to escape the confines of the planet. It’s a Battle Royale title that allows gamers to team up, to go it alone, and to explore a new world on their own terms.“
Fighting for glory as a Prospector in The Cycle involves a variety of other pursuits that most gamers would not expect in an FPS Battle Royale, however. The Cycle is best described as a competitive quest shooter with core Battle Royale elements in a PvPvE gameplay style.
Environment & Story
On the planet of Fortuna III, you will compete against or collaborate with other Prospectors, and claim as many resources as possible in a given amount of time.
When it comes to the planet itself, this truly is a hostile environment (hence the ‘E’ in PvPvE), and aliens such as Howlers, Skulkers and Spitters will indeed make your life hell on your road to victory.
You will also experience outright treachery with Prospectors, losing resources or even your life at the drop of a hat. Therefore, whether you choose to team up or go it alone, you should be wary of either decision!
“The Cycle” itself is a planet-level metamorphosis, represented as a radioactive storm. This storm is responsible for the end of Fortuna III’s civilization, and all that remains are ghost settlements and dangerous aliens.
Some survivors were able to retreat to the orbiting Prospect Station, where you have a personal quarter at various points during the game.
What To Expect In The Cycle: Frontier
Fortuna III Environment
– Prospect Station
You are not short of places of interest on the station, the main one being your Personal Quarters. You can also visit the following places to purchase crafted guns, equipment and consumables, as well as picking up a quest or contract or two:
- ICA (Independent Civilian Advisory)
- Osiris stores
- Quick Shop
- Drop Console
– Fortuna III
Let’s talk about the environment. Although the planet is beautiful, danger lurks around every corner. Standing around admiring the luscious surroundings does not come recommended if you want to live more than a few moments. Fortuna III is indeed rich with an innumerable amount of resources, and your job as a Prospector is to claim this bounty before anyone else does.
There are two regions that you are able to play in – Bright Sands and Crescent Falls. Both maps are crafted to offer a decent level of cover, sufficient combat space and plenty of loot to prospect.
Bright Sands features a central station, nestling inside a hollow mountain. This is surrounded by cliffs, a forest, a swamp area and areas of vegetation. Water surrounds Bright Sands for the most part. There are a number of different structures available where you’ll find resources for crafting and fulfilling contracts.
Crescent Falls is slightly larger than Bright Sands. You will also find quite a few old buildings scattered around this map. At the heart of hot springs stands a monolithic ancient ring structure, amidst farmland, jungle, desert and plantations of mushrooms. There’s also numerous small rivers which wind and lead to salt flats.
There are lots of items you can find on both maps, from meteor cores to mushrooms, and everything in between. A number of prospected items can be crafted or can be used for enhancing the personal quarters at Prospect Station.
You will be able to create new attachments for weapons and upgrade equipment, and trade materials you have found. This will increase your reputation, as will finding rare materials for contracts handed out by factions and store owners.
Outside of Prospect Station, there are no laws to govern the select few who prospect on-planet, so you will often find yourself in a head-on battle for gathered resources. Whilst tactical and strategic combat is a great tactic, resorting to a full-on gun battle is often the preferred method for solving disputes over full backpacks.
There are a great number of weapons available, and tactical gear to help you stealth your way through the game if you prefer. Everything from a sidearm to a sniper rifle can be crafted or purchased, with attachments & equipment such as audio decoys, smoke grenades or suppressors for the silent but deadly attacks.
You can also upgrade and purchase shields and armour, making you a more difficult target for enemies. That is to say, certain attachments can reduce recoil, help accuracy, and increase the power of a weapon.
If you miss an evacuation, however, you will lose all of your equipment and weapons. It pays to be frugal and selective when you’re going into a game.
Printing & Crafting
To start with, you are always best crafting backpacks for storage and armour (for staying alive). Some in-game items, gear and consumables are not available for purchase. These will need to be printed back at the station.
Printing an item will need you to have materials and recipes, and sometimes K-Marks. K-Marks are the in-game currency, enabling players to purchase items in faction stores or the “Stockpile quickshop”. You will also use K-Marks for repairing your armour, and speed up crafting and upgrades, amongst other things. The time it takes to print an item also depends on how rare it is, and the type of item.
Prospectors are the main threat, though alien lifeforms on Fortuna III are worth mentioning.
Listen out for the almost imperceptible sound of a crunching twig, or the brush of scales against a leaf, and keep your wits about you at all times.
These enemies do have some benefits, however. For instance, small and large critters will make your life difficult, but also provide a source of income – assuming you can make the kill.
The Factions on Prospect Station will offer you contracts during your stay, and these can be a lucrative way of making your way through the game and building your rep.
However, building your reputation means both your risk and rewards will increase when taking on contracts.
The Story Missions are a type of Contract which provide lore about Fortuna III, and life before the Cycle. The missions are found in Solo Mode, appearing in the inbox back at Prospect Station.
How Can I Play The Cycle: Frontier?
The Cycle: Frontier is available on Steam and Epic Games Store for wishlist now. However, you may also register for beta access!
Watch Announcement Trailer
Too Long… Didn’t Read
The Cycle: Frontier is best described as a competitive quest shooter with core Battle Royale elements in a PvPvE gameplay style. The game is developed by Spec Ops: The Line and Dreadnought developers, Yager.
The game centres around prospecting for loot on a planet whilst trying to survive the environment, alien creatures and other players in 20 minute, multiplayer Battle Royale.
You can opt to go solo or team up with other Prospectors. You may also undertake quests and contracts to increase your reputation, enabling you to progress in the game.