The Cycle Frontier released last month and for the past week I’ve been diving in and checking out all that the extraction style shooter has to offer. Much like other extraction shooters, The Cycle is a loot based game. Players buy and sell loot items in a game based economy while doing small quests for XP.
Die hard fans of the game have been waiting since the fall of 2019 for the game to reach full release status. Since early access began the game has changed its focus to be a contender in the quickly growing genre of extraction style shooter.
What is The Cycle: Frontier?
In short, the game is simple. Drop into the map with a loadout of your choosing. Pop a few aliens, pick up the loot, then stash it or sell it. But the thing that drives the playability of The Cycle are the missions. In the game you’ll find multiple factions who have their own markets with specific items. These factions will send you on simple task driven missions to increase your XP and earn points to level up your relationship with that specific faction.
The missions start off pretty trivial but soon become more difficult as the factions start to request more difficult tasks and more rare items. The other driving force behind the game’s ability to keep players engaged is through upgrades to your living quarters. These come in the form of income generators and supply drop generators. Much like the faction missions you’re required to collect certain items to upgrade your benefits.
What I liked:
Right out of the gate I could recognize the similarity to games like Escape from Tarkov. The difference that separates The Cycle from Tarkov is that the developers at Yager did a really good job at explaining the game. The UI is very clean and useful. Everything that I wanted to do in terms of UI, I was able to do; and very easily.
The other aspect of the game that I liked is that the core of the gameplay is very accessible. One of the difficulties of Escape from Tarkov, is that it seems like the barrier of entry to the core gameplay of the game is a bit difficult to achieve as early as it is with The Cycle. In The Cycle: Frontier you’re able to jump into the ‘Normal’ difficulty map, loot and even XP farm from your first few drops. While a seasoned Tarkovinian may be able to jump right in to a post-wipe drop and clean house, it’s not easy to do for an absolute beginner. That’s not the case for The Cycle. The learning curve is much more palatable with The Cycle.
What I thought needed work:
The missions start out as simple “go get this” tasks and soon progress into progress bars with set numbers of enemy’s to dispatch. Even though I do think it is a positive for the learning curve to be easier on beginners of The Cycle, I feel like there is a missed opportunity here. I think that the missions could use some complexity. Whether that is in-game puzzles that require a team mate or more intelligent enemy AI I’m not sure. But the missions felt a bit stale after a while.
Another aspect I would like to see develop is the variety of enemy’s. There seems to only be a handful of models the developers have chosen to be in the game. It makes sense, but it does give the game a bit of a cookie cutter feel to it. Enemies could benefit from a variety in dropped loot as well.
While on the topic of loot I think it would make the game more interesting if there were more weapons and ammo to be found in loot boxes. I’m sure it would have an effect on the PvP gameplay. But even a crafting mechanism could really take the PvE portion of the game to a more engaging level. Players could stay in the map longer without having to tote mounds of ammo in their inventories. I think it could allow for some serious looting and farming. Which is the most fun part of these types of games right?
I think The Cycle: Frontier is a solid game. But I likely wouldn’t spend any money on the monetized portion of the game. Mainly because I’m not that interested in playing it enough to want to spend money on it. If you look into the factors of why that is, you’ll see that the gameplay just isn’t that engaging. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day I’m just doing the missions because they’re there. They don’t really spike my interest or seem to be much of a challenge.
I’m going to keep grinding on to see if that changes. For now I think that the game could benefit from focusing on their story and gameplay portions to keep players engaged. If The Cycle was able to achieve that then they would have a great game on their hands.