Here’s is a battle royale for those who don’t like the genre

Platform: PC
Genre: Competitive quest shooter
Publisher/Developer: Yager
Rating: To be announced

By Gieson Cacho | The Mercury News (TNS)

“We were really scared of making a new battle royale game.”

That’s what game director Torkel Forner told me as I checked out The Cycle, the latest project from Yager. The studio known for Spec-Ops: The Line and “Dreadnought” isn’t afraid of tackling new genres. It sounds as if the team is more fearful of making a generic game.

The studio thrives when it goes off the beaten path, and The Cycle flows in that direction. Although it looks like a battle royale game, Yager’s latest is more in line with the Dark Zone from Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division franchise.

Players create an avatar and pick a load out of weapons and tools. From there, they drop onto a planet and must fulfill several random contracts. That’s how players are scored. Many contracts ask players to gather mushrooms, find broken drones or gather certain minerals. This often leads to confrontation with the creatures on the planet.

This is the player vs. environment part of the game. The natives are the enemy who players have to blast away with their first weapon — a pistol. Each time they do that, they earn money, which is used to purchase more powerful weapons and tools from their load out. This is how players obtain that assault rifle or turret. With a 15-minute time limit, players have to fulfill as many contracts as possible to win the match.

Occasionally, they’ll run into other players, and that’s where The Cycle gets interesting. They can attack another competitor, but it doesn’t give rivals a big benefit. If they manage to kill an opponent, they earn a small amount of credits and the dead player respawns in an area of their choosing. They don’t lose contracts or items, but the next time they die, they’re out of the game.

Of course, fighting is just one way to interact with players. They can also enter a pact, and team up. The Cycle only allows a partnership of two people. They tested it with four and five players but found the situation to be messy.

Part of the reason is that players can break the pact at any time. There’s a cool-down team before and after that happens, but it keeps players on their toes. Alliances are ephemeral and can be broken at any time. The other reason against bigger pacts is that they are overwhelmingly powerful, and Yager wanted to keep the tension during a Cycle match.

All around the map, players will encounter other types of contracts. Players can grab a Zeal shard, which gives players points the longer they hold it. The drawback is that other players can see them on the radar, and they may want that item to complete a contract. Another phenomenon is lightning storms that drop lucrative red shards. These events often draw other players together and it raises the chances for conflict.

As the match winds down, players will encounter more powerful creatures. Hopefully, by then, they’ll have enough weapons and gadgets such as a medkit to stay alive. Defeating the creatures may help raise their score, but everything comes to a head as they head to the extraction point. After harvesting all the materials and fulfilling contracts, they have to make it off planet by heading to a ship in this zone.

Depending on when they reach it, they can find other players waiting to ambush them. They can sneak in and board the craft to head out. It’s another moment where Yager ratchets up the tension.

The reward for each match is crafting materials. Those items can be used to create new weapons or gear that is added to a load out. In addition to that, The Cycle has multiple factions and players can do contract for them and improve their standings. In turn, those factions offer blueprints for new firearms or gadgets.

The Cycle sounds like a battle royale game for people who don’t exactly like battle royale games. PvP may not appeal to them, so there are other activities and opportunities to win. Players don’t have to be waiting for those in ambush, and they don’t have to outrun a closing circle. They can be free to explore and venture around a planet that only has short windows where resources can be gathered.

Because The Cycle is a free-to-play game, Yager has to make money in other ways. Forner said that will likely come via vanity items. Players create their avatars and cosmetic pieces will be a way to show off their personality or even prestige. He said nothing will be sold that affects gameplay.

The Cycle is going into closed beta at the end of May with an open beta later this summer. The game is scheduled to come on PC.