After getting into it last year, I’ve drifted away from The Cycle, Yager Development’s PvPvE competitive quest shooter. You know how it is: new games, new updates to games, getting back into old games … the usual shiny bits that distract you from games that you’re sure you’ll get back to “someday.”

Now The Cycle has some new shiny bits to discover, and I got a preview of them a couple of weeks ago during a play session of Season 3 content with Game Director Dan Banefelt and Executive Producer Jonathan Lindsay. Lindsay called the new season, titled “Stormchasers,” the game’s “biggest ever update.” It’s got a few big set pieces that are sure to capture players’ attention, as well as a few smaller but significant tweaks that will make life a little easier on and above Fortuna III – but not too easy.

The first thing you’ll notice is the new Prospect Station, an open space where you can run around with other prospectors and prepare for the upcoming mission. All of the services that you used to have in menus, such as faction vendors, cash shop, quests, loadouts, etc. can now be found in actual booths on the station – though if you prefer the convenience of a menu, you can still use that for most things. There’s even a viewport where you can gaze down onto the planet itself and clearly see a small clear area surrounded by a raging whirlwind – the setting for your adventures planetside.

Another major change you’ll notice before dropping down to the planet is that there are no more crafting materials. These have been replaced with a credits system, to simplify progression. The transition is automatic, but early iterations of the update had a counter on the station where you’d have to change over to the new currency; that’s now covered with a “Facility Closed” sign, a nifty easter egg for those in the know.

There’s also a mysterious blocked-off door to something called “Fortuna Favored,” which looks like an exclusive nightclub on the station, but I was told that would be “coming later.” Here’s hoping it won’t be locked behind a real-money purchase.

On to the planet itself! It hasn’t received quite the same overhaul as the pre-match gameplay, but there are a couple of new things to check out. The biggest new addition is the train that runs through the zone, and the contract that accompanies it. There’s a console at the head of the train. If you or your team activate it, you’ll rack up the score as long as you hold it.

Naturally, that isn’t easy. Other players are looking to seize the train for themselves, and in one match we played, we had to fight off would-be literal train-robbers and keep it it to ourselves. The story behind how the train came to be was that an unnamed “new guy” at the studio came up with the idea on a whim and pitched it to the higher-ups, who agreed. Give that guy a raise!

As for who you’ll be playing with and against, The Cycle can now be played with four-person squads, as we did in our matches – all the better for holding on to that train – and the team is working on a 10v10 mode as well.

And if you die? Well, all is not lost, assuming you were prepared. You’ll get one respawn for “free,” as usual, and if you can go to the spot where you died and claim the token there – making a “corpse run,” as it were – you can respawn again.

Stormchasers also includes greater e-sports tournament support and skill-based matchmaking; two new playable Prospectors, described as “Primetime, a streamer with a flash LCD outfit, and Ronin, a sci-fi samurai”; and a new starter shotgun and assault rifle. Naturally, there’s a new season pass, with both free and paid versions, and until July 22, you can pick up the Rogue Starter Pack for free from the Epic Games Store and receive a Prospector, unique vehicle, melee weapon, and weapon skin.

All in all, it’s nice to see a title like The Cycle continue to get significant updates like this one. It doesn’t have the huge presence of other battle royale and battle royale-like games, but it’s something I’ll need to go back to now that the new content is live. If you’ve been away for a while, like I have, or if you’re looking for something a little different to try out, take a spin on Fortuna III.

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