There are a whole lot of new games in 2024: For me personally, the shortlist is largely these 10 cozy games to watch for. Though I’m genuinely excited about all those launches, I know what kind of creature I am. I’m a ‘nightly game sessions with the group chat’ girl, and multiplayer crafting games are the easy wins for my friends. So one of my most anticipated launches of next year is definitely the multiplayer mech farming game Lightyear Frontier.
Lightyear Frontier calls itself “a peaceful open-world farming adventure on a planet at the far edge of the galaxy” in which you can farm, build a homestead, and explore. And really that’s almost all I needed to know. Except you can also customize your mechs with different paint colors, specialized utility limbs, and upgrades like a tractor tread mode for efficient tilling. Oh, and you harvest trees by slashing through them with your giant buzzsaw arms, which is automatically better than every game that asks me to chop trees with a stone tied to a stick.
If you think that a mech seems like an unwieldy contraption for the delicate work of raising crops I ask you: have you seen a modern combine? The things are real life Decepticons. With the confidence of someone who’s sat in the cab of a combine exactly one time, I’m going to say that a bipedal mech with a pilot is even better suited to caring for corn. Someone phone up Mr. Deere to suggest that, thanks.
For real though, developer Frame Break seems to have put a lot of thought into making mech farming the perfect mix of fun and realism. In a development update from the summer, they explain recent changes to a physics-based mech movement system that’s allowed for overall better handling, so boosting and sprinting feel satisfying. It also means you can roll your mech by accident, though apparently that’s not too common.
Another part of Lightyear Frontier I’m psyched about is the concept of planetary revitalization. This has been a bugbear for me with my beloved farm sims for a while, that no matter the setting or pretext, I’m always encouraged to mow down everything in my path and replace it with my personal vision for the space. Whether it’s a beautiful aesthetic farm or an overly-optimized monocrop operation, it’s all about control.
As the developers explain in an update on sustainability, in Lightyear Frontier there’s a big emphasis on bringing balance to the ecosystem. “Without a healthy ecosystem, you’re in for a literal world of hardships,” Frame Break says. “Your crops will struggle, flora and fauna will disappear, and the barren landscape will have nothing to give.”
To unlock new resources, you’ll have to explore new areas and help curate them back into their proper state. Partly that will be by scrubbing away mysterious goop, but also by removing weeds to make way for the native flora and fauna.
There is still big tillage farming though, according to November’s update, and that farmstead building as well—and I sure do like a building system. The more I hear about Lightyear Frontier, the more it feels like it could be my main crafting game of the year.
Lightyear Frontier is expected to launch in early access in March this year with plans to remain there for about a year and a half. Over the course of early access, Frame Break says it wants to add “new environments, plants, resources, animals, and hazards, as well as several new upgrade tiers, and modules for the mech.”
That’s a pretty stock standard early access tenure for crafting and survival games, so I’ve not got worries about hopping into the pilot seat of this one in March. All of its gameplay videos have been nothing but promising thus far.