The Cycle is a unique game that released in 2019. Dubbed as a "competitive quest shooter" by the developers, players will compete to climb the leaderboard by completing both PvE and PvP contracts in 20-minute matches. While still in Early Access on the Epic Games Store, The Cycle boasts multiple maps, a variety of guns to choose from, a ranked leaderboard, and a Battle Pass for players to unlock more cosmetics. After playing a LOT of this game, I've got some The Cycle tips guaranteed to bring you home some Ws.
These tips for winning in The Cycle should help you if you’re just starting out, as well as if you've been playing for a bit already! There’s a lot of ways to climb the leaderboard in The Cycle, with each match having a different set of objectives for you to chase.
What are The Cycle Contracts?
These are the main contracts available to all players in solo, duos, and squads.
- Bounty - You’ll collect 5VP for each rival prospector you kill, but this is not the best way to win!
- Veltecite Minerals - Fight off waves of monsters as your drill mines to earn points based on the difficulty level.
- Letium Gas - Build refineries on top of Letium Gas vents to process it for points which accumulate passively. Over time, your refineries will level up to accelerate the process and earn you more points, but rival prospectors can steal or destroy them!
- Brightcap Collection - Throughout the map, you’ll be able to find little green mushrooms which can be collected and turned in at the center for contracts. In addition to clusters of 2-3 littered throughout the map, there will also be “Zones” you can see on the map with more spawns.
- Zeal Shards - Shortly after the match starts, two Zeal Shards will spawn on the map. Pick one up to passively collect points towards the contract. In the middle of the match, a third red Zeal Shard will spawn, which awards the same points but gives you 40VP if you evacuate with it!
- Uplinks - You’ll be able to find uplink stations across the map, which shows which is active, which uplink is next, and how much time remains before the next location goes live. Simply capture the Uplink to start earning passive points. You’re free to leave... but any prospector can take it from you!
- Laser Drill - Matches with a Laser Drill will have 3 drilling locations around the map, similar to Uplinks, and a drilling rig will fly to and rest at each one for a period of time, during which players can activate the drill to earn points as long as they hold it. Once activated, waves of monsters will attack the core, which, if destroyed, will force you to restart the drilling. Once the drilling in one location is complete, the drill will lift up and fly to the next. Players CAN ride it to the next location.
- The Mag-Train - At the start of the match, two Mag-Trains will start loading up goods, after which you can take control of the train and ride it back to the station, collecting points the longer you hold it. If you manage to hold it all the way to the end, hang on just a bit longer to get 3x the points while it unloads.
- Hunt Missions - Hunt mutated creatures in specific areas to collect Biomass.
- Alpha Wardens - Damage/Kill Alpha Wardens for points, which only spawn after a certain number of hunts are completed.
- Power Up Facilities - Uncover and activate 3 terminals, then activate the power station.
- Central Power - Once enough facilities have been powered up, you can power up the main power station and hold it for points.
- Drone Salvage - Near the locations of drone carriers on the map, 3 drones will be launched, and you must return them to the Drone Carrier before they’re destroyed by the monsters. You’ll receive more points based on how much health each drone has left.
- Drone Launch - Once you’ve placed all 3 drones into the carrier, it can be launched. Defend it from monsters until it launches for 30VP, or you can destroy one that rivals are launching for 30VP.
- Surge Crystals (Cycle Spike) - In the final few minutes of the match, there’s a chance a Cycle Spike will appear, spawning Surge Crystals you can collect for points. Be aware, though, the Spike zone causes lightning storms that can do some major damage to you!
- Monsters On Evacuation Platform - Once the evacuation ship attempts to fly in, monsters will swarm the landing platform. You’ll need to kill these monsters for the ship to land, but you’ll also earn points for doing so.
- Evacuation - You’ll receive VP for evacuation, and should you be on a team, a bonus should the entire team manage to make it off alive. Note: One person must evacuate to remain higher on the leaderboard.
These contracts are only available in Solos:
- Deliver Alpha Eggs - You can use your directional scanner to find Alpha Eggs hidden on the map. Deliver it to a specific location in order to receive points.
- Data Download - There are data terminals hidden throughout the map - collect 3 and get bonus points.
- Tracking - You can track the footprints of female wardens, and collect their eggs for points.
The Cycle Tips #1 - Upgrade Your Equipment In-Match
Between your guns, abilities, and suit ,you’ll have a lot of firepower at your fingertips. Whether you like to run with SMGs, Assault Rifles, or the badass Karma-1 Sniper, upgrading them throughout the match will put you in a better place to succeed.
Both weapons and abilities can be upgraded twice:
- Weapons add 5% additional damage per upgrade
- Abilities have their cooldowns reduce by 5 seconds per upgrade
That 10% additional damage can have a major impact on your ability to fight. Additionally, being able to utilize some abilities quicker may just save your life.
The Cycle Tips #2 - Use The Directional Scanner
One thing that you don’t learn right out the gates with The Cycle is that you have a directional scanner! While it may seem useless with the plethora of information on the game’s map, there’s actually a lot of hidden information that this tool unlocks!
Using the scanner, you can identify things around you such as:
- Active Contract locations (Minerals, Bright Caps, Power Terminals, etc)
- Currency (This is huge in the early game, especially)
- Crates (Higher currency than the bits laying on the ground, sometimes they drop weapons and abilities you can equip)
- Enemy Prospectors (Shown as “humanoid”)
- Nearby Hostile Creatures
- (Solo Only) Alpha Eggs - Pick them up and turn in for VP.
- (Solo Only) Data Terminals - Access 3 to get VP
- (Solo Only) Story Missions
Simply take the directional scanner out (default middle mouse button), and you’ll be shown things all around you for your Active Contracts. Currency, Prospectors, and additional hidden contracts can only be seen if you’re pointing it in the right direction.
I highly recommend you take this out regularly and scan around you for things that will give you the upper hand in your matches!
The Cycle Tips #3 - Diversify Your Weaponry
The default guns you start the game with are well diversified—an SMG, Assault Rifle, Sniper, and Grenade Launcher that range from 200-800 in-match currency.
Having both lower-cost weapons mixed in with higher-cost weapons for your loadout will ensure that, should you get locked into a fight with other prospectors early into the match, you can quickly snag a weapon more powerful than your pistol. Early game fights can be tough if your opponents bought up!
Should you be the type, like me, who wants to snipe people from across the map, you’ll still need some balance. It's worth having a low-cost SMG to pick up as soon as you hit 200 to utilize until you can afford the Sniper (or any other more expensive gun).
Essentially, ensure your loadout has tools for every situation. (That includes your abilities!)
The Cycle Tips #4 - Modify Your Loadout Effectively
You can customize your loadout to include different weaponry (as detailed above), abilities, and even your suit. While it may be tempting to keep buying every weapon you unlock, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck if you fully modify each of your weapons.
Start with your preferred pistol! Fully upgrading your pistol will give you more firepower to start each match off, allowing you to take on contracts (and opponents) a bit more easily, speeding up the time it takes to upgrade to a larger gun.
What upgrades you choose are fully up to you, with options like larger magazines, splash damage, better scopes, and more. Cater them to your playstyle, or focus on maximizing your magazine size and damage!
In addition to being able to modify your guns - you can also upgrade your suit. These are less persistent upgrades, but they do add some value to various aspects of gameplay. You can add additional shielding, or if you (rightfully) thank you’ll be taking on PvP, you can add a damage boost on taking down an enemy.
Ranging from 1700-3500 in cost, definitely pick and choose what you’re upgrading carefully because it might take you an additional game or two to unlock the next slot!
The Cycle Tips #5 - Don’t Focus On Too Many Contracts
Every match has four contracts that will be available to players, with solo having some additional hidden ones as outlined at the start of this The Cycle guide. In the lobby, they’ll be shown on the wall so you can properly plan your strategy for the match.
Normally, you’d think that chasing everything within range would be worth your time and help you win, right? Sadly, it can usually work against you.
While sometimes jumping between different contracts can work out, ultimately you get significantly more points for focusing on two or three at the most and getting further into the contract levels, with the exception of some contracts like Power Stations being relatively easy to do on the way to other contracts.
Pairing contracts is a great strategy as well; for example: holding a Zeal Shard while also holding a Drill or Uplink will net you more contract points than just doing one. Completing hunts as you collect Brightcaps or drill for minerals will also ensure you keep moving contracts forward as you move around the map.
Long story short, ranking up a handful of contracts will ensure you gain more Victory Points and climb the leaderboard, rather than leveling up a wider range.
The Cycle Tips #6 - Don’t Sleep on Brightcaps (or Gas!)
Brightcaps are an incredibly easy way to rack up points without a ton of effort. With them being scattered all across the map, with very minimal resistance, you can rack up enough for 6-7 contract levels without much effort and still have a good amount of time to chase some other contracts. If you see some, grab some, or you can always pick up a hoverbike and seek out JUST Brightcaps and have a good chance at the #1 or #2 spot on the leaderboard!
In the same vein, refining gas is a stupidly easy way to rack up points while you work on other contracts. If you collect enough—and steal enough from other players—you’ll be racking up 100+ points every few seconds once they start getting to max level. Easy Victory Points.
Most players don’t put much into these two contracts, but if you do, you’ll definitely see some success.
The Cycle Tips #7 - Choose Your Fights
While PvP can be quite fun in The Cycle, if you want to climb the leaderboards it’s important to pick your fights and know your surroundings. Anyone, at any time, could jump you while you’re mining minerals, but you can do the same.
Pushing a fight that isn’t to your advantage can set you back further than just having to recover your emergency battery. That wasted time to run back can ultimately cost you points too, so before jumping into a fight with other prospectors—or even just grabbing an uplink or powering up a station—make sure that you’re ready to take them down. Dying once can mean the difference between 1st and 3rd place.
The most effective uses of PvP interactions are when you’re able to slow or stop other prospectors from completing tasks so you can push ahead. For example, let your partner take another team’s attention while you quickly steal their minerals, or fire some warning shots to keep others at bay while you complete your own. You don’t need PvP to win, but you can use it.
That it’s for our tips for The Cycle, as well as some guidance for those of you just starting out on Prospect Station. Hopefully the lengthy amount of words I’ve written above has given you ideas for some new strategies, or just some general ideas on how you can improve within the game.
If you’re looking for help or tips in other games, check out the rest of our gaming guides, and sound off in the comments below if there’s a tip or strategy we missed!