Explore Fortuna III in the Competitive Quester RPG Called The Cycle
Sometimes the next big thing begins as a simple pitching jam between a group of friends. This is the case for a new innovative competitive quester. The goal of the game is to compete or collaborate with other players, in order to claim as many resources as possible. It's a blend between first person shooter and a quest based open world RPG.
The Cycle is the latest game from YAGER, the developers of Spec Ops: The Line and Dreadnought who are no strangers to both PvE and PvP combat. Today, we have the opportunity to sit down with the team and ask a few questions.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. To kick things off, can we ask you to introduce yourself and what you do at YAGER?
My name is Henning Schmid, and as a Head of Publishing I am overseeing our publishing activities, with focus on Community Management, Marketing and many other topics. This is new for YAGER, which was a more classic development studio before, but now, thanks to the partnership with Epic Games, we decided to take full control of The Cycle as a self-publishing developer.
Can you share with us a little about how The Cycle came to be?
At YAGER we are doing regular pitch jams with the team. Everybody in our studio can pitch an idea for a new game which gets taken into serious consideration. One of our Senior Game Designers came up with the idea to merge PvE and PvP elements for a First-Person-Shooter game in a Science-Fiction-Setting. This was one year ago and it sounded very ambitious to that time and well, at YAGER, we love ambitious things, so very quickly the pitch idea was formed into a concrete design document and then we pushed the right buttons. With our former learnings and our community focus with a lot of play tests and iterations, we had been able to achieve a great game in a very short time.
What was one of the biggest challenges the team has faced that required creativity and ingenuity to overcome?
The balancing between PvE and PvP: to provide a game which works for both player types without enforcing other players to do something they don´t like. It sounds easy on paper, but it isn´t - as every minor change on one side can create huge consequences on the other side you hadn´t predicted before. That’s why we are so keen on iterations, basically, every day there is a playtest with the entire team, for finding out how the latest balancing or feature change works under normal conditions. And with normal conditions, I am referring to 20 people in the office who want to win a match on any cost, like regular players. Sometimes it really heats up here when I throw my lovely grenades on my colleagues.
What does the typical gameplay session in The Cycle look like?
So let’s imagine that you have played some sessions and you have unlocked first new weapons and abilities already: You start by selecting your preferred weapons, 4 in total, as well as your preferred abilities, like grenades, shield, a gun turret and much more. You have also selected your basic kit, like a rocket jump or more armor and to the last you have checked if some weapons can have additional modifications to maximize your firepower, or to choose a setup close to your preferred playstyle. Just imagine playing a “Tank” or “Scout” – with the right gear setup you can modify your character entirely. That sounds like a lot of work? It’s not – as you are going to unlock the equipment step by step and not everything at once.
Now it’s time for a match, you choose between the solo mode and squad mode and start the matchmaking. When 20 players are ready the match starts and you arrive on Fortuna III with a…. pistol! Correct, despite choosing 4 possible weapons and abilities before the match you will start always with basic equipment, a pistol. By fighting hostile creatures and doing first objectives you earn credits. An objective, or as we say a contract, could be something like “Activate the power station”, “Gain 500 minerals”, “Hunt few exotic creatures” and other PvE-missions. So you get a lot of credits for that and with those credits you are going to buy your previously selected weapons during a match. It’s a bit similar to a MOBA game where you upgrade your character with items constantly in order to gain more power. So while doing more and more contracts, leveling up your character and gathering rare resources you will notice that the environment of Fortuna III changes. The sky becomes darker as a mighty storm will unleash its devastating powers soon, the so-called Cycle which happens regularly on Fortuna III. It also affects the creatures there, they become stronger and more dangerous. In the last 3 minutes of the 20 minutes match duration, an Evac ship arrives and you have to enter it for your survival. If you come late or you get blocked by something – well, good luck as it will end your session then in the most painful way. The surviving player, or squad with the most made contracts, will win the match.
This was the PvE Part, but our game is both: a merge of PvE and PvP. So imagine the game I described above but with 20 players, or 5 squads of 4 people in the squad mode. So there are other players with the same objective: winning a match by doing most of the contracts. And here the fun part begins: it’s totally up to you if you want to compete in contracts or trying to stop those other players. Don´t worry, our PvP gameplay is not so harsh and unforgiving like in other shooter games. You have many health points, a protection shield and a huge open map to run away simply, or dodging any conflict if you want to. We gave the player a lot of options to not become a victim instantly. Also killing other players is not really rewarded by the game, sometimes you can take their weapon, but you won't get any score points by being a PvP-Killer-type. And if you focus too much on other players, you lose valuable time in the race for objectives. In the end, it is all about smart decision making. And for the solo mode we have also included the pact feature: you can team up with a random player you meet outside. You create a 2-man-squad, half of the earnings but double firepower. It makes a difference in the solo mode if there is a lonely guy or 2 prospectors supporting each other. We really want to avoid that The Cycle becomes a gank-fest. We want to merge PvE and PvP in a nice and unique experience, so we keep continuing testing new features and balance the game so it serves both directions.
I understand that there is a fair amount of PvE and PvP in this game. Can you give us an overview of what players can expect when they first drop into Fortuna III? Will there be PvE servers or will it be always on PvP?
For now PvP is always on, but as mentioned above, it is not a bloody killing field and won’t become in the future. We give the people enough choices and power to avoid the PvP if they want to. You even have a respawn feature: the first time you lose all health points you can teleport back to your landing pod, instead of being killed. For the future we will test various things - and PvE only is clearly something to look at it.
The Cycle has several factions players can join and help advance. How many factions are there and what are the differences between them?
There are 3 different factions or as we say: manufacturers. Three big futuristic corporations, completely different designed, including own voice lines you hear when working for them. Every corporation offers an own lineup of various weapons and items. So if you work for a corporation, you get rewarded with access to better equipment over time. You can always change the corporation you want to work for, depending which item or offer looks most promising to you.
While questing, what type of quests will players encounter?
The objectives or contracts are very different and we constantly add new ideas for those missions. We now have 12 different types inside, but only 4 are available for each match. I don’t want to list all 12 types now, but there are easy ones like collecting minerals, more complex quests, like finding and activating 3 power suppliers at the power station and also more dangerous quests, like carrying a zeal so you constantly get points when doing so. The problem is: when you carry the Zeal, all other players will see you on the map. Your choice if it is worth doing it ?
Sometimes special missions appear during a match. Those special missions are very special - bringing your biggest gun sounds like a good idea.
What type of crafting skills will players be able to learn and will there be some sort of trading posts where crafters can turn a profit for their hard work?
No, there aren't crafting skills. All you need is to unlock the access to a new item at the manufacturer and having enough rare resources from your previous trips to Fortuna III to craft that item. Once you created it you will keep it for all upcoming sessions. But your space is limited, you don’t take your entire inventory to a mission, you select your favorites to the beginning instead.
Can you explain how storms and monsters change the battlefield and how monster scaling and radiation provide an additional challenge?
There is a visual change of the entire planet. What looked bright and cozy at the beginning, changes more and more into a nightmare the closer you come to the next Cycle. The sky changes into a dark red, you see the storm shaking trees and there is something different with the monsters: do they look more hostile now? Is the attack range larger now? Do they make more damage? If you answer all questions with yes, then it's really time to leave the planet as quickly as possible!! If you miss the evacuation ship at the end of a match, you won't survive the Cycle.
What payment model will The Cycle follow?
It’s Free2Play! There is no “entrance fee” and we are all gamers here and know what a good and a bad monetization means. For sure we want to avoid any Pay2Win elements and focus purely on cosmetic and quality of life improvements. We don´t want to “sell power” or advantages.
Where can players learn more about getting involved?
The best address to learn more about The Cycle is to just play our game - in our Alpha starting tomorrow or the Closed Beta arriving in few weeks. There is our game website which will grow with new content in the next months at www.thecycle.game, we will also implement a forum there soon. We have a vivid discord server with a lot of our developers directly speaking to our community and listening to their feedback.
About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.
About The Cycle
The Cycle is a competitive match-based first person quester, from the makers of Spec Ops: The Line. On Fortuna III you compete against other Prospectors or collaborate with them to claim as much resources as possible and escape before the planet crushes the life out of you.In The Cycle the explored galaxy is controlled by massive Factions, but the mysterious outer reaches are still up for grabs. In their race to control these frontier resources, the Factions need contractors to do their dirty work. You are one of these contractors, competing for objectives such as collecting minerals or hunting wildlife while being careful to avoid or take down the competition.