Matches take place in the lull between the storms on the surface, allowing players to converge on the clear areas and try to complete their contracts. Each break in the cycle only lasts about 20 minutes, so every second counts while you're down there. During each match, you can use black market drops to bolster your weapons and gear load out with equipment provided by the faction you complete contracts for.
Each match begins with the players landing on Fortuna III in Drop-pods.
All players start with 4 initial Contracts that they must fulfill to gain Victory Points.
During the match, the Cycle gradually increases. This results in more and more stormy conditions and stronger enemies the longer the match keeps going.
Also additional contracts will become available during the match. This includes follow-up contracts triggered by the fulfillment of the initial contracts, randomly occurring contracts and bountys for other players.
After 17 minutes, an evac ship approaches. The landing zone for the ship has to be cleared of monsters for it to land. Reaching the ship is the primary goal of a match together with the fulfillment of the issued contracts.
After 20 minutes the Cycle reaches radiation levels that penetrate all shields and deal massive ongoing damage to all remaining players. Shortly after every player that has not yet evacuated will die.
The match ends when all players have evacuated or died.
After the match, you are rewarded with a Reward Package depending on your final rank in the match. The rank get's sorted primarily after who successfully evacuated and who didn't, and then after earned Victory Points. It is possible to share your rank with someone with the same VP count, in that case both of you are rewarded with the "better" package.
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You can play the Cycle in different gamemodes which are listed below.
During Early Access, not all gamemodes are available at all times. The current schedule can be found on the official Website as well as on the official Discord.
In this game mode you drop into Fortuna III by yourself. In this game mode there are 20 competing prospectors in each match. You can dynamically strike a pact with another prospector, which will will give you shared but diminished contract rewards (both players get 70% of all contract points collected as long as the pact stands). Also you get invincible to friendly fire. On the downside, both players loose their shields. All pact effects disappear when the pact is broken. You must complete the most contracts and evac from Fortuna III in order to win.
In this game mode you and a pact mate will drop into Fortuna III together. There are 10 Teams of 2 prospectors in each match. You can not break this pact and your teammate is determined as soon as you load into the lobby. It is also possible to form a squad on Prospect Station and play the match together. You and your teammate must try to get the most contracts done and evac from Fortuna III in order to win.
In this game mode you will drop into Fortuna III with 3 other prospectors. There are 5 squads of 4 prospectors in each match. You can form a squad on Prospect Station, if you don't have a full squad the missing slots are filled with random players. You and your squad must try to get the most contracts done and evac from Fortuna III in order to win.
In this game mode you will be able to earn "Rank Points" and a corresponding rank, which is shown to all other players and showcases your skill in The Cycle. Your rank has no influence on the matchmaking. Ranked mode was introduced in Release 8 and currently is only available in one of the gamemodes.
The rank points awarded after each match follow a certain pattern. As a base value, the game summs up half of your earned VP, extra points if you reached the Evac ship and points based on your final placement. The placement points can also be negative. Your base value is then adjusted based on the difference in rank between you, the lobby average and your squadmates ranks. The final value is then added or substracted from your rank points.