One of the more surprising announcements from Geoff Keighley's Gamescom Opening Night Live event was the surprise release of The Cycle. The game, made by Spec Ops: The Line developer Yager, had been announced nearly a year before but it had slipped under the radar.
Now available in early access on the Epic Games Store, The Cycle offers players a chance to take the reigns of the multiplayer shooter. Before you jump into The Cycle, there are a few things to know.
What is The Cycle?
In The Cycle, players land in a region called Fortuna III that is teeming with dangerous monsters. In addition to ferocious creatures, there's also a storm cycle that can roll in and wipe out players who get caught up in it.
This hostile ecosystem is an important part of what The Cycle's gameplay loop, as the player character, called a Prospector, is on Fortuna III to complete faction quests such collecting resources and hunting these angry aliens. As a match goes on, The Cycle's enemies will also grow much stronger, scaling up to really give players a fight. The key is to make an escape on the evac before the battle gets tough.
Is The Cycle Another Battle Royale Game?
Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and newer titles like Apex Legends have all shown that battle royale games can be huge moneymakers, but Yager says that it's bucking a trend with The Cycle.
The game isn't a battle royale title, it's a PvEvP (player versus environment versus player) game where combat encounters can include AI and real life opponents. In one explanation trailer for the game, Yager Development jokingly refers to The Cycle as an F2P-PvEvP-FPCQS, which is a long way of saying that the game is free to play and has quest gameplay too.
How Do You Win a Game of The Cycle?
The Cycle does have solos, duos, and squads, but its matches are won differently to battle royale games. The winner is whoever has completed the most quests and has successfully made it to the evac. How many kills a player has isn't so important, and it also means nothing if they get killed before they make it to the evac.
This allows smart and sneaky players to mow down other players trying to make it to the evac site so that they can win without having the most completed quests. The Cycle also has a "Truce" feature which allows players to form alliances and work together, but these can be broken, so players will have to watch their back from every angle.
What Are The Cycle's Factions?
Before a match begins, The Cycle players are able to choose from one of three factions. The three factions, Korolev, Osiris, and ICA, have different ideas about what should happen to Fortuna III but this is far less important than the loot that they can offer.
Completing quests for these factions will allow players to progress through the ranks and get more powerful loot as the game goes on. The top faction level for ICA provides a rocket launcher, the top faction level for Osiris provides a weapon with an energy beam a bit like Destiny 2's Coldheart, and the top faction level for Korolev is a heavy weapon with a slow fire rate. Players are only locked to their choice of faction for one match, however, so they can switch as often as they like.
Is The Cycle Pay to Win?
This is the question that everyone asks about new free to play games but from what we can tell, The Cycle isn't pay to win. This could change once The Cycle exits Early Access but for now, the game is monetized by the sale of founder's packs.
There are three founder's packs to choose from which provide character skins, weapon skins, and emotes.
When Will the Full Game Be Released?
Yager hasn't set a date for The Cycle's full release yet. The developer has been releasing updates around once a week but it has described the early access as a "playtest." It's unclear how much development is left until the full release but it could be a while. Games like Fortnite are officially in early access though they keep adding new content and they feel like a full game.
The Cycle is available on PC, but the team has also said that it is "considering additional platforms." So the game could come to PS4 and Xbox One but this console release could be far off.
The Cycle is available on PC.