Lightyear Frontier preview: Farming in a mech on an alien planet is something I didn't know I needed

Lightyear Frontier
(Image credit: Amplifier)

Becoming a mech farmer on a lush alien planet wasn't something I knew I wanted to do in life until I saw Lightyear Frontier. The upcoming open-world farming adventure from developer Frame Break and Amplifier Game Invest sees you land on a world at the far edge of the galaxy where you control what is essentially a tractor mech. Affording you the freedom to explore the environment, establish and build up your own farm, and uncover the mysteries of the planet, you can also do all this and more with up to three pals thanks to online co-op support. 

I got the chance to check out some new Lightyear Frontier gameplay during a hands-off preview, and I'm already taken by the idea of diving into a peaceful world in a mech that I can customize and use to my liking. From upgrades to tools and different paint jobs, I got to see some of the customization options we'll be able to play around with to finetune and personalize the mech. Transform modes, for example, can be outfitted to change up its movement system, which is just one of the many options available that are geared towards helping players realize their "mech fantasy", as Frame Break CEO Joakim Hedström put it. 

"The reason we made these transform modes is that, as we made this game, we realized that everyone has a different mech fantasy of what their mech should be like – how it should move, how it should act," Hedström said. "And instead of trying to make a bunch of different mechs to fulfill each of these fantasies, we're making a single mech with a tonne of customization. So these transform modes that you can equip and turn into are one of those ways to let players customize their experience and make their mech suit their fantasy." 

"Shooting to create" 

At the start of Lightyear Frontier, you'll land in an area known as the Outset grasslands, with four different starter tools at your disposal to help you get started on your farm and gather useful resources from the landscape. The resource drill, for example, will help you break down materials from local plant life, while your harvest vacuum gathers up any resources from them. Just like other parts of the mech, the tools can be changed up and upgraded once you have a garage. Here, we see how you can swap out modules on every aspect of your mech, from the arms to the cockpit, engine, roof, and more. 

Upgrades also look set to offer a sense of progression to boot – as you advance your tools, you'll be able to interact with the environment in new ways and even open up new areas. Flowers around the world can also be turned into paint to change the primary and secondary color of the machine. As someone who loves being able to customize and create any character I play, it's great to see so many options available to personalize and alter the mech. 

What I've always found so appealing about farming sims and adventures, though, is that they can sometimes provide a relaxing or even calming space to get lost in for a while. Happily, from everything I've seen and heard so far, Lightyear Frontier could very well deliver in this regard. By putting you in the role of a mech that's at "harmony with nature", Frame Break is striving to create a world that feels peaceful in every sense. As a farming mech, the only shooting you'll do is firing seeds into the ground with your trusty seed shooter. 

Lightyear Frontier

(Image credit: Amplifier Game Invest)

While there is a survivability aspect that comes into play in regard to the crops that you grow, there's no risk of death. Instead, the challenge comes from protecting plants from changing weather conditions and wildlife, as well as trying to ensure you're suiting the different needs of alien crops you may come across. While you can discover crops and resources around the world, you can also buy them from a visiting merchant, who will buy up anything you grow. With its economic system, certain crops will be worth more each game week, so it quite literally pays to keep an eye on which plants increase in value. 

Lightyear Frontier is already speaking to my farming and crafting-loving heart. Exploring an inviting, peaceful alien open-world certainly has its appeal, and growing and tending to crops in a customizable mech puts a fun and more unique spin on farming. With a release date now set for Spring 2023, I'm looking forward to seeing how it shapes up. 

Lightyear Frontier is coming to Xbox Series X/S, PC and Xbox Game Pass in Spring 2023

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.