During a PAX East panel over the weekend, Insomniac Games announced a May 28th North American release date for its upcoming PS3 co-op shooter Fuse. The game blends some familiar elements of Resistance 2’s large-scale co-op mode with exotic weapons powered by an all-powerful alien substance dubbed, you guessed it, “Fuse.”
Given the news, we reached out to Insomniac Games President Ted Price with a list of topics we plucked from a recent Twitter call for questions. Enjoy, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.
PSB: Games this generation have take a longer time to develop, how long have you guys been working on the Fuse concept (via @jaydawg6958)?
Ted Price, President, Insomniac Games: We started working on Fuse a few years ago. It’s evolved significantly since then, as all of our games have. Thematically the best way to describe Fuse is to take the dry humor and teamwork of Mission: Impossible (the new films, not the old TV show) and combine it with the crazy weapons of District 9. That’s the kind of alien marriage we believe helps Fuse stand out among all of the real world, gritty sims which are so prevalent in the shooter genre today.
One of the aspects of the game we believe will feel fresh for players is that Fuse does NOT take place in real-world hotspots and doesn’t reflect real world politics. Ours is a very “Insomniac” world where you travel around the globe to exotic locations where larger-than-life bad guys have established strongholds in sometimes improbable locations. While our story has twists and turns along with dire consequences for failure, it also has plenty of lighter moments where we offer players a break from the grim, serious attitude that so many other shooters have adopted.
How many weapons are there, and do they all have secondary fires? Do the weapons level up similar to Resistance 3? (via @justincasuccio)
Ted Price: Each of the four characters in the team has his or her own experimental weapon powered by the alien Fuse substance. Each of these weapons has unique strategic functions and an upgrade path which allows you to unlock additional abilities and buffs. We don’t have secondary fires per se. We have secondary abilities which are different for each of the Xenotech. For example, Dalton is equipped with the Magshield which by default is a large, see-through bullet barrier that Dalton can wield when tanking for the team. By default you can also release a kinetic blast which liquefies nearby enemies. Later you can unlock the ability to drop copies of the Magshield which allows you to build a safe area for your team – something that’s incredibly useful if you’re ambushed from multiple sides.
Naya by contrast has the Warp Rifle, which coats enemies with an antimatter/Fuse mixture. When enemies reach critical health levels, they detonate a black hole and the enemy gets ripped apart. The resulting explosion sends out a shock wave that knocks down nearby enemies and can trigger a chain of additional black holes if other enemies have been coated with that mixture. It’s a pretty sweet AOE function.
Later, Naya can unlock an invisibility function which makes her a great flanker. Thematically this function is tied to the Warp Rifle’s use of antimatter which allows Naya to temporarily disincorporate.
Jacob’s Arcshot and Izzy’s Shattergun have unique primary fires and secondary abilities as well. But in each case the Xenotech fires/abilities create what we think are some very useful multi-class characters. For example, Naya is not only the rogue-like stealth specialist with her invisibility, she’s the group’s AOE expert with her ability to chain black holes.
Also worth noting is that it’s not just the Xenotech you can level up in the game. Each character has his or her own substantial skill tree which allows you to improve your Xenotech weapons, your abilities with the more standard weapons in the game and your character stats.
PSB: In co-op gameplay, how do the different weapons and skills complement each other?
One of the keys in making a game focused around teamwork is giving everyone incentive to work together. I say “incentive” because we never want to force teamwork down anyone’s throat. Instead we reward teamwork with bonus XP which will allow players to unlock cool stuff faster. We originally experimented with something similar in Resistance 2’s eight-player online co-op mode, and some of that DNA has made its way into Fuse.
As a simple example, Dalton can push forward with his Magshield up. The Magshield protects his teammates who can cluster behind him and fire their weapons through the shield. Kills made through the Magshield garner more XP for both Dalton and the hero who made the kill.
Here’s another example using Naya and Jacob. Naya can cloak and get into a good position, and then “paint” multiple enemies with her Warp Rifle. Then Jacob, can use his Arcshot from a distance to nail one of the soon-to-be victims. Provided Naya has coated the enemies with enough Fuse/antimatter mix Jacob’s Arcshot bolt will set off a singularity that could result in a chain reaction taking out all of the enemies.
There are lots more complex examples where more Xenotech weapons are combined, and any co-operative interactions like these will reward the players with additional XP.
PSB: Is there going to be extensive character customization? Will there be weapon mods or just upgrades? (via @Sulphurburn)
Each of your four characters has his or her own skill tree. As you play the game you can choose how to level up each hero to fit your playstyle. We have some additional cool skins and customizations you’ll be able to unlock as well.
PSB: Is the gameplay going to be easy for someone who basically sucks at shooters? (via @raycat27_2003)
There are several difficulty levels in Fuse, so you can pick one that might work for you. And we’ve worked really hard to make taking cover, vaulting, climbing and especially shooting intuitive. At Insomniac we’ve always placed great importance on tight, straightforward controls so that our games are accessible to all types of players. It doesn’t mean that the game is easy by any means. But we’re passionate about making sure that Fuse has the same pick-up-and-play feel that our Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series have had.
So, easy? No. Challenging but rewarding and fun? Yes. Also worth noting is that each of the characters has his or her own specialization that may work better for you. If you’re the type that likes to hang back and snipe in shooters, Jacob is perfect since he’s outfitted at the start with the Arcshot – a very powerful, scoped long-range weapon. But if you aren’t into precise aiming, Dalton’s Magshield is fantastic for close-range combat. It’s got a wide blast radius and can keep you and your teammates safe as you close the distance to foes. Just don’t run out of Fuse in the middle of a bunch of tough enemies!
What types of enemies will we fight in the final game? So far we’ve seen general troops and mechs…but given Fuse’s extraterrestrial origins, will we be encountering anything more monstrous?
No Fuse zombies…but there are lots of different archetypes you’ll see in the game. For us it’s important to vary enemy look, weapons and behavior to keep combat fresh. Plus as you progress in the game, you’ll face more and more enemies using Fuse-powered technology against you. Players will have be constantly changing up their strategies as they encounter these new types.
PSB: What is Raven’s role in regards to Overstrike 9? What are their goals, and why have they stolen the supply of Fuse?
That’s something we want players to discover during the game through the story we’re telling. Fuse itself is an incredibly powerful, renewable, living, alien energy source and multiple factions you’ll encounter want it for different reasons. Having control of the source of Fuse is an instant game-changer, which is why it’s so important that Overstrike 9 retrieves it.
PSB: Can players play splitscreen while playing online with other people? (via @DampRevil)
Yes indeed. In fact you and a friend can be playing splitscreen online with two others who are playing splitscreen.
Is there a join in/drop out co-op mode with PSN support? i.e. can I join my friend’s session and chat? (via @HAWCGaming)
Yes, two-player split-screen at home still allows you to go online to fill out the team with four players. However, if you don’t have four-players or you prefer playing alone, don’t worry! We have a feature called LEAP that allows you to instantly jump into any of the four characters that isn’t currently being played by a human-player. This gives you some great strategic options for gameplay. LEAP is available as long as at least one of the four heroes is being played by a bot.
PSB: What type of replay value will Fuse have after I beat the campaign? (via: @cros1625
This is something we were really focused on with Fuse. Each character has a full skill tree you can unlock and the gameplay experience can be quite different based on which character you are using. We’re finding that it takes several playthroughs to unlock everything in all four skill trees.
Beyond that, those looking for a ton of replay value will also find it in our Echelon mode. Echelon is our wave-based mode, but it brings forward a lot of the ideas we had back with Resistance 2 co-op. An important feature of the game is that the experience you earn in the campaign carries over to Echelon mode, and vice versa. In other words, if you spend a lot of time leveling up your characters in Echelon you’ll be bringing your leveled-up characters to the campaign (and again, vice versa).
PSB: Will there be any competitive multiplayer component? (via @angrytacoz)
We built Fuse as a cooperative experience. While we experimented with some ideas for competitive multiplayer, we ultimately realized it was more fun when players could use the co-op skills they were building in both of our game’s big modes. Yet our Echelon mode does feature a competitive aspect. As you defeat enemies, they’ll drop different types of Fuse Credits in the form of coins, bags of money, or gold bars. It’s a little like the classic game Smash TV – when you see the money, you’ll want to make a run for it.
Those Fuse Credits are useful as they unlock and improve special Team Perks. Team Perks are team-wide buffs and each hero can equip one at a time. Fuse Credits also unlock customized skins for your characters and weapons.
And by the way, each game of Echelon features 12 rounds. Those rounds feature randomized objectives which can spawn at various locations in each of the six large maps. As the rounds progress, the game becomes incredibly difficult. Echelon is a very strong nod to hardcore players who want to go for it with the cooperative skills they’ve been building in campaign.
PSB: Does Fuse still have the sense of humor that Insomniac games are known for? (via @pmac131)
While Fuse doesn’t employ the same slapstick humor seen in the Ratchet & Clank franchise, it’s not a completely serious game either. The characters poke fun at each other and often make light of dire predicaments. Our goal was to create the more sophisticated, dry humor you might encounter in a movie like Mission: Impossible. It’s definitely not a grim military shooter.