Multiplayer games seem to be coming out by the dozens, but only a few offer meaningful gameplay differences from one another. It’s hard to create a new gameplay formula when ones like the battle royale formula work so well. This is where The Cycle comes in, offering something different from the rest. Recently, they started an alpha for the game, which is what I have my hands on. Here are my thoughts on The Cycle
The Cycle is a first-person multiplayer shooter about twenty people on an island trying to complete quests. Various groups and organizations want various things from this island like resources or data, and that is where you come along to extract those resources. Everyone has twenty minutes to go around and complete objectives before the island is swept up by a storm, and it is your job to do as many as you can. Since life is a competition, you are trying to do more objectives than anyone else, and whether you want to join forces with others or attack them is up to you.
Before I really get into it, one thing I do have to praise this game for is the fact that it feels new. This isn’t another battle royale, and this isn’t another arena shooter; this feels like something I have never played before. Whether or not this formula is fun is what I will get into, but the fact that it is something new is a nice change of pace considering a lot of these multiplayer betas or alphas I try are the same thing in slightly different packaging.
How each game works is you are dropped off on the edge of the map, and is given twenty minutes to roam around. There are a bunch of different objectives, but only four are randomly selected each session. These objectives include collecting materials, turning on generators, defending drills from alien enemies, and more. Doing these objectives net you points, and whoever has the most points win. Throughout the game, you are also collecting money, which allows you to request weapons and items for that session. Other players are also roaming the island, and they have the option to attack you or befriend you. If you are downed from an attack, you will get back up if undisturbed, but if they are going for the kill, then you can teleport back to your drop pod once. Befriending others means you split money and objectives as well as lose your shield, but it’s good to have an ally. Towards the end of the match, a ship arrives in the middle of the map to pick up whoever is left alive. At the end of the match, you get crafting materials depending on how many objectives you do, and you use those materials to unlock new weapons and items.
While I do enjoy going around and completing objectives, I find that this game doesn’t really put me in the competitive mindset, and as a result I find death by other players to be frustrating. Personally, I am fine with just doing objectives, getting crafting materials, and crafting to my hearts content. Unfortunately, there are others who play competitively, and that involves killing me so they can be top-dog. Thankfully, the game offers the alliance mechanic, which makes the game feel more competitive. Having allies also means having enemies, and I find that the only way I can enjoy this game is with teammates, whether that be an alliance in solo play or playing in squad mode.
One other thing worth mentioning are the objectives. I love the different objectives, as for each bring on their own kind of challenge. Defending a small drill while it mines, defending a large drill while it mines, carrying around a crystal that shows your location, collecting mushrooms and delivering them to a station, taking and stealing gas pumps, and more give plenty to do in the game. On top of that, the objectives are randomized, so each playthrough is different. These objectives aren’t anything huge, but they are engaging enough to drive the game forward.
The last thing worth talking about with this game is the balancing, and it isn’t good. The game feels like it is going to be free-to-play, because I can see them tinkering around with the drop rates of materials to make it so. What certainly doesn’t help are the weapons, which feel unbalanced. After reaching a certain level, I gained the ability to build a better starter pistol, which I did. With this revolver, I have won every single encounter against those with the basic starter pistol, because my gun is better. The weapon balancing issues go beyond that, but I can tell this game may give others a paid advantage.
In conclusion, The Cycle is a refreshing multiplayer shooter that is fun, but doesn’t quite leave me wanting more. I do enjoy playing the game, and I would be fine playing with a friend who needs someone to play with, but I don’t see this game replacing any other game I am playing. I think this game will have its audience, but I find that there are other multiplayer games I would rather play than this.