For Swedish indie studio FRAME BREAK, a tight-knit group of only 12 developers under the Amplifier Game Invest publishing umbrella, the goal is simple: Blur the boundaries between video game genres and allow more people to play together. It's not a particularly unique vision, but it's a noble one, and the studio's first project appears to have everything it needs to deliver on that ambition.
Lightyear Frontier combines aspects of farming simulators, first- and third-person shooters, survival crafting games, mystery narratives, and peaceful exploration adventures into one online co-op game heading exclusively to Xbox and PC in Spring 2023. We were given a sneak peek of what to expect from Lightyear Frontier ahead of its Xbox Game Pass debut during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022, and we're excited for what FRAME BREAK is trying to build.
A peaceful tribute to nature
According to FRAME BREAK, Lightyear Frontier is a "peaceful tribute to nature," and strives to be constantly aware of life. Survival elements are incorporated without the constant fear of death; players will focus on sustainability and live in harmony with nature, rather than abuse its resources; the game's shooter mechanics are only to create, never to kill.
Lightyear Frontier is set on a distant alien planet, with players' primary goal being to explore the numerous environments, cultivate alien crops and plants, and sell them in the in-game market for a profit. However, there is a lot going on in the debut title from FRAME BREAK, with a plethora of challenges confronting the players besides the oh-so-typical "there are enemies, and you can die."
The game is inspired by similar titles like Satisfactory, Astroneer, and Planet Crafter, but differentiates itself with its focus on farming, its refusal to incorporate automation, and its overarching theme of tranquility. Players will embark in their personalized, upgradeable mech and farm, explore their new home, build their base and farm, research new tech, and discover the secrets that surround them.
Yes, while Lightyear Frontier is endlessly replayable, there is an underlying mystery story tying the game together, which players can unravel as they explore the planet for a definitive narrative-driven ending. The story aims to be nonintrusive, too, meaning players can completely ignore it without it impacting their ability to progress or play the game.
All of this occurs in Lightyear Frontier's alien, creative sandbox world. We were only shown one area in our limited preview, the "Outset Grasslands," but the full game will apparently have four major, distinct areas to explore, with each featuring a variety of unique environments. The starting area is designed to feel "familiar to Earth," while each progressive zone will feel steadily more alien than the one before.
FRAME BREAK has clearly nailed down what it wants to achieve with Lightyear Frontier's world and core theme, but how will it all be tied together through gameplay?
A superpowered mech and creative freedom
Lightyear Frontier will boast a wide variety of gameplay mechanics and systems, which aim to create a loop that will keep players interested for hours upon hours of farming gameplay. There's enough contained within this quirky, colorful farming game that it's easy to list the features out, rather than smash it all into a single paragraph.
- Explore an alien planet, filled with bizarre animals, plants, environments (even underwater), and more
- Pilot your personal mech, which can be modified with various tools, upgrades, and cosmetic alterations
- Farm all the alien plants you discover, being careful to protect them from a variety of threats, tend to each plant type's specific needs, and eventually harvest them
- Build your dream base and farm, with creative freedom to build however you want
- Collect rare resources, valuable plants, and important data to add to your ever-growing Codex
- Research new upgrades for your mech, building blueprints for your base and farm, item recipes for your gear, and more
- Trade at the galactic market, where you can sell your valuable crops, purchase rare resources, items, and tools, and more
- Discover the secrets at the center of Lightyear Frontier's mystery narrative as you explore
- Share your adventure with fully cooperative, 4-player online multiplayer, Photo Mode, and more
All of this centers around the previously referenced mech. While you can leave your mech to see the world from a smaller, more fragile human perspective, all your exploration, crafting, farming, and beyond will be done from within the safety of your intelligent, customizable mech.
Lightyear Frontier offers a wide variety of basic and unique tools, like the resource drill, drone, scanner, harvester, seed shooter, and more, that can be equipped to your mech (up to four on each arm). Each tool offers upgrades that can make your work more efficient and allow you to interact with the world in new ways, and even let you access new areas.
Your mech also offers different traversal modes, and can transform to help you more easily navigate the sometimes-perilous alien planet you inhabit. Don't worry, though, you're never in real physical danger — the threats in Lightyear Frontier are to your crops and productivity, not to your character. If you get into a situation from which you can't escape, your mech will enter an "emergency mode" to get you out of it ... at the expense of fuel and time.
Crafting is also an important part of Lightyear Frontier, with various common and rare resources being necessary to build components and other ingredients for buildings, tool and mech upgrades, and more. Finally, Lightyear Frontier is built with the community and co-op in mind, so online multiplayer is designed to encourage active teamwork and sharing.
Bound for Xbox and PC Game Pass
I think Lightyear Frontier looks incredibly interesting, with the blend of cathartic farming and base building mixed with the exhilaration of unraveling a mystery and exploring an alien planet enticing my gaming senses. Will it be enough to break into the vaunted list of best Xbox games? It's too early to tell, but I'm excited to see more — Lightyear Frontier will make its next appearance during Gamescom in August 2022.
Lightyear Frontier is launching on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC in Spring 2023. At the moment, no plans to bring the burgeoning farm adventure game to other platforms have been announced, making it an Xbox console exclusive. FRAME BREAK is also dropping Lightyear Frontier into Xbox and PC Game Pass from day one, making it easy for players to jump in with friends.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
When Lightyear Frontier arrives in Spring 2023, it'll be available immediately through Xbox and PC Game Pass. You and up to three friends can explore vibrant environments and cultivate alien crops together with Lightyear Frontier and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.