The Cycle: Frontier Closed Beta First Impressions
The Cycle: Frontier is currently in closed beta, and this is a game that could make some very big waves in the PvPvE space. The game is a mixed bag of idea similar to No Man’s Sky crossed with Escape from Tarkov. The closed beta I played was riddled with bugs, but hopefully the team will iron those out before launch. There are glimmers here of a great game struggling to get out and be fully realised.
In The Cycle: Frontier our playspace is called Fortuna III. This is a wild world where dangerous animals and creature freely roam about the place and the weather can be all kinds of wild too. It’s our job as Prospectors to head down to the planet from the safety of our ship, gather resources, collect intel and battle other players in this combination of PVE and PVP. Once you have collected your resources and killed a few other players then it’s time to make your escape via an extraction ship that can be called in. Be careful though, as calling in a ship is like firing up a signal flare, it’s going to attract savy players who will try and kill you and steal that hard earned loot.
If you’re interested in The Cycle: Frontier then you will most likely have played similar games like Escape from Tarkov and the more recent Scavengers. The Cycle: Frontier does not feel as polished as these experiences, far from it at the moment. I had issues with the controls in the game, I had issues with the menus… there’s plenty of bugs and kinks to be worked out before the game goes live. The team behind the game recently announced the extension of the closed beta to much fanfare, which is great news… but the game needs more time to be ready in all honesty. If the game was to be released in it’s current state, it’s going to be torn apart and go the way of Hyperscape.
The Cycle: Frontier can be played solo or with a team of up to three players. When you first start out you have a basic tool kit. Part of the experience is getting ready for the drop in the hub ship before you go down to Fortuna III. That including getting kitted out with useful gadgets and tools. You’ll need a pick axe to hunt help you smash rocks for the materials, you’ll also need a mineral monitor to find the rocks in the first place. You’ll want to select weapons, as you will be meeting monsters and things trying to kill you, as well as other players of course.
A nice feature that The Cycle: Frontier has which I hadn’t come across before is inventory insurance. Yes, you heard me corrctly… you have to insure your gear. If you die on Fortuna III, then you will lose everything. Although you do have some space in your inventory called Safe Pockets, and you can carefull select a few items per run to keep for good. It can feel brutal to head down to the planet, spend a bunch of time collecting, only to be killed while trying to escape using the extraction ship… but that’s what the game is all about, and you have to be very tactical with these things. If you run out there in the open then you’re essentially begging to be killed. You have to think smart, maybe set a few traps here and there and tempt your opponents out carefully. Otherwise you’ll lose all your precious loot in a flash.
Balancing the risk and reward in the game is part of the fun. The PVE enemies and monsters can be tough. I was surprised at the amount of damage they can inflict in a short amount of time, plus health injections don’t really give you the expected boost of health. You have to be careful and pick your battles, because if another human player doesn’t take your cargo then some of the deadly creatures definitely will.
After you’ve spent some time foraging down on Fortuna III you’ll make your way back to the space station that sits above it called Prospect Station. This is our hub zone for the game and it’s full of people and NPCs. There are three factions here and they will all hand out quests. They are called The Independent Civilian Advisory (ICA), Korolev Heavy Industries (Korolev), and Osiris. The quests have you doing different objective based tasks down on Fortuna III, and you’ll get decent rewards for completing the quests including weapons and gear. Each faction has it’s own campaign which feels like a light-MMO. It’s not on the level of Final Fantasy XIV or Lost Ark, but there are MMO-like mechanics here which feel good in a game like this.
Fortuna III is split into zones, with two being available in the closed beta. We have access to Bright Sands and Crescent Falls at the moment, and they differ in terms of scale and difficulty. Bright Sands is smaller and Crescent Falls is much larger and has the ability to have more players in the server, making it slightly more exciting if player PVP is what you are after. There’s 15 players on Bright Sands and 26 players on Cresent Falls. Servers are repopulated as you go and they reset after 6 hours, meaning you can come across other players loot if you happen to be in there at the end of a cycle.
The impressive part of The Cycle: Frontier is that no two trips down to the surface feel the same. Hunting for materials and PVE battles sounds like it could feel very similar time after time, but the game does a good job of mixing things up and keeping it feel fresh. The weather is variable, meaning sometimes storms roll in and really mess with your plans, expecially if your mid way through an extraction, as pilots won’t be happy with the changable conditions. Meteors can crash into the planet which act as random loot caches as they contain a bunch of valuable resources. There’s mini puzzles in terms of getting generators back up and running. There’s a good amoutn of variety that keeps you on your toes, and that’s not to mention the variables that are lethal other players.
I’ve spent a good amount of time with The Cycle: Frontier. I have slightly been put off by the bugs, however, this is what closed beta’s are for, it’s for finding these kind of things and listening to player feedback. It does feel like the game needs a little more work to be ready. Currently I am accepting the bugs because of the beta badge, but if it releases anywhere like this then it’s going to get torn apart. I don’t want to dwell on the negatives though because somewhere in here there’s a decent game trying to get out. If the developers can squash the bugs and get it ready for it’s full release, this one could be a multiplauyer hit.
Release Date: TBD