What can players expect while completing their contracts?
After landing on the planet Fortuna III, players will be welcomed by a beautiful landscape brimming with colorful plant life, as well as a dangerous fauna that tracks your every step. You should not plan for a long stay anyway, because the planet-wide metamorphosis is ever looming: in 20-minute cycles, the titular storm of the same name sweeps the entire planet. But let’s back up a little bit …
The lore: natural resources, creatures and deadly storms
In the early 24th century, colonizing planets and mining their resources is a normal procedure for humanity. But Fortuna III is not a normal planet: remote, but with conditions similar to earth and home to traces of a highly-advanced alien civilization that abandoned the planet for unknown reasons. After the first settlers arrived on the planet, the seemingly optimal conditions turned out to be a fatal misconception. Life on Fortuna III is defined by a recurring storm, the so-called Cycle. This weather anomaly increases the aggression of the already hostile local wildlife and also carries radiation that is lethal to humans.
Now, 30 years later, humanity is launching a second attempt at gaining a foothold on Fortuna III. The rich mineral deposits of the planet make it worth the risk – the promise of untold riches is so tempting that greed triumphs over reason. At least when it comes to the three factions of Korolev, Osiris and the Independent Civilian Advisory (ICA for short). Throwing caution to the wind, they send out players as prospectors, contracted adventurers who fight over the precious resources on the planet in the name of these corporations.
Faction selection: Advanced tech weapons or solid shooting irons?
Before every match, players decide if they want to enter Fortuna III on their own, in Duo mode or as a squad of four. Then they pick one of the three factions, each boosting the contestants with different advantages:
- Korolev specializes in heavy industry and wants to set up new mines and factories on Fortuna III. This faction offers heavy weapons and armor, functional and reliable, but without any sense of aesthetics.
- Osiris on the other hand specializes in research. Their main interests are in the planet itself, the weather phenomenon of the Cycle, as well as the traces left behind by the alien civilization. Their weapons and items tend to be advanced prototypes of different technologies, packaged in a modern design.
- The ICA is more of a political faction than a commercial one, representing the inhabitants of “Prospect Station”, the giant space station orbiting Fortuna III that is the starting point for every expedition to the planet. The ICA is interested in keeping the peace and improving living conditions on the Prospect Station. Their gears are almost exclusively created from materials harvested on Fortuna III, which leads to a lot of unique and exotic designs, but a high level of quality as well.
On the map: the right loadout is vital
After choosing your loadout of four weapons and skills, the action begins. In each match, 20 prospectors enter the map. They all have a single goal: accomplish as many contracts for the chosen faction as possible. These might see players drill for minerals, filter Letium, hunt exotic monsters or salvage lost research drones. Apart from the four main contracts and their individual tiers, players might also come across random or hidden quests. While completing these missions and fending off the local wildlife, players collect credits that let them unlock the items in their loadout or upgrade their weapons and skills up to two times.
Fragile alliances: Other players as friend or foe
The Cycle leaves it up to players how they want to achieve their goals. Some might choose an offensive approach and charge straight into the action, using the heat map to track where other players are grouping together. Others might keep their distance and focus on completing tasks, since that is how you win the match, as long as you can make it off the planet alive. You won’t get out without a fight anyway, because as soon as you start collecting resources, hostile monsters show up to defend their treasures and attack the player. And the closer the raging storms come, the stronger these monsters become thanks to the mysterious radiation of the Cycle. It’s a real nightmare scenario.
Prospectors not only have to fight off these creatures, but will inevitably run into other players, who you can ignore, team up with or kill ruthlessly. In the Competitive Quest Shooter The Cycle, nothing is as it seems. A stranger might turn out to be a fierce and fearless ally, eager to join forces with you. Meanwhile, a loyal friend could become your worst enemy, ready to stab you in the back as soon as it’s time to split the loot.
Players who hunt down other prospectors have a bounty placed on their head. You get off with a warning the first time, but the second time you attack another player, you will be marked on the minimap for all to see – and might fall prey to another player looking to boost their score.
How a mission ends: who wins, who loses?
While the prospectors are trying to complete their missions, the timer keeps on ticking down. The sky darkens, the storm approaches and soon the evacuation ship will land on the planet! The surviving players scramble for nearby vehicles or sprint straight towards the landing zone to escape with their lives. During this chaotic stage of the game, it’s important to keep your head and come up with a plan. This final phase is where the winner of a match is decided, since you might be able to squeeze in another mission or simply… get rid of the person currently in the lead before they reach the evacuation ship.
But this is not a battle royale game! You don’t win by simply being the last person left alive, but by completing the most missions and reaching the evacuation ship in order to get off this hostile planet.
No Pay2Win: All gears are free
Pay2win doesn’t stand a chance here! Over time and by completing contracts, players can improve their reputation with each faction, unlocking blueprints for new weapons and technologies. These weapons can only be unlocked by playing and are not for sale in the ingame shop. Instead, the shop offers a variety of customization options for your prospector.
Apart from weapons, players can also craft items and modifications for their gun. These might allow you to improve clip size or fire rate, for instance, but tend to come with a large downside such as increased recoil or slower equip speed. You will also find a variety of other gadgets, such as teleporters, revitalizers, temporary shields or an autonomous sentry gun. All of these require materials found during matches, such as titanium ore, nickel or polonium. So it’s worth exploring the map thoroughly… even if the next enemy could be behind every corner, whether man or monster.
The Cycle, the fast-paced competitive quest shooter is free to download in early access for Windows PC via the Epic Games store.