Lightyear Frontier asks: what if Farming Simulator, but with a transformer instead of tractors?

Mechs are generally portrayed as weapons of mass destruction. Even though you can befriend them (looking at you, Titanfall 2), in the end, they just stomp around and shoot your guns. Enter Lightyear Frontier, a game that drops you on an unknown planet with the robot as your Swiss army knife. Here, the machines do not kill, they “shoot to create”. In this mix of exploration, base-building and farming, robots can equip up to four different tools for any job, whether it’s throwing seeds in a grow bed, hydrate them with your hose or collect resources with a drill attachment. They look like a tractor transformed into a Transformer, the red front particularly reminiscent of older models of agricultural vehicles.

For Swedish developer Frame Break – whose first project appeared in the Xbox and Bethesda showcase this weekend – the mech became the perfect multi-tool early on: something that would fit the theme of exploring a world alien, would be fun to use and give the farming game genre a modern twist. “We really wanted something you could do anything with,” says CEO Joakim Hedström. Since you’ll be spending so much time in one, the mech also comes with a host of customization options, from color to movement system, to help every player fulfill their “personal mech fantasy”.

Your mech can dash through meadows, for example, before seamlessly resuming its two-legged amble, and you can customize it with different dyes in your mech garage, a space to gaze lovingly at the finished product. The game offers both a third-person and first-person perspective – in the former you can move around and enjoy both your mech and planet environments, while tasks such as harvesting Materials automatically place you in first-person view so it’s easier to see what you’re doing.

Light Year Frontier

(Image credit: Frame Break)

Hedström emphasizes that Lightyear Frontier is a deeply peaceful experience, “a tribute to nature”, as he calls it. You can see it in the studio’s inspirations, which include My Time at Portia, Astroneer, and The Planet Crafter. The agricultural and economic systems of Lightyear Frontier, the latter represented by a merchant who lands on the planet at certain intervals, are driven by sustainability rather than simple profit. Trying to grow and sell endless monocultures won’t get you far, as the value of individual items goes up and down. But neither is it about growing and selling. To build a base, you must first craft tools, and to craft tools, you must source raw materials and process them into components. Where there is crafting, there is also a research tree. Research allows you to unlock not only new types of buildings, but also upgrades and mechanical items.

There is no game over. We call Lightyear Frontier a deathless survival game

Ultimately, much of what you need is powered by the materials you find on the planet, so you have to explore. “During exploration, your robot can be damaged by falling off a cliff or encountering wild animals,” says Hedström. “There’s no endgame, but because of that, we call Lightyear Frontier a no-death survival game.” Your crops can also be damaged by the vagaries of the weather. Losing a precious harvest can be frustrating, but Frame Break aims to keep things fair, so most of your time with the game will be spent enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Exo-plore

Light Year Frontier

(Image credit: Frame Break)

Nothing about Lightyear Frontier would work without an intriguing environment. This is where the game really shines – what we’ve seen of the planet so far looks extremely lush and inviting, from sunny grasslands to dense jungles. Everything is painted in bright colors reminiscent of games like Astroneer and No Man’s Sky. As enjoyable as just soaking up the atmosphere can be, in addition to farming and crafting, Limit Break wants to make your exploration interesting with a “mysterious, yet non-intrusive narrative.” This means that the story won’t take away from your farming experience, but can be followed at your own pace. You could find out exactly what the planet’s ancient inhabitants did, or just make sure you and the rest of your community have everything they need to thrive. Archeology or pure agriculture, the choice is yours.

Since Lightyear Frontier’s themes focus heavily on establishing a colony in a respectful and community-minded way, it makes sense that Frame Break would also want to emphasize community through multiplayer mechanics. To that end, you can play Lightyear Frontier alone or online with up to three friends. “We really want to encourage people to play together so they can help each other,” says Hedström, “and we want to create a great community where people can discuss their discoveries and share what they’ve built.”

Light Year Frontier

(Image credit: Frame Break)

Frame Break has big plans for its new seed. When it launches in spring 2023, Lightyear Frontier will give you four worlds to explore, 100 resources to find, and 50 buildings to craft. In addition, the team is working on underwater exploration. A big task for a small team of 12 full-time developers, but it has precedent – Frame Break’s inspirations were made by similarly sized indie teams, after all. Lightyear Frontier is slated for release on PC and Xbox, and Frame Break promises more information on the game later this summer at Gamescom.

About Cassondra Durden

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