PAX EAST: Fuser Hands-On Preview
Emerging from the sea of booths at PAX East was a gargantuan stage, like something straight out of Coachella or Burning Man. In the air above was the word, Fuser, jutting from the ceiling in bright colors. Harmonix, the leader in music-themed video games, came out in force during this year’s PAX EAST to announce their newest take on the music genre, Fuser. Fuser makes a massive step forth and evolution for the studio. Having long moved away from the plastic guitar days of Rockband, Harmonix has taken to more experimental undertakings, such as 2016’s Amplitude and 2019’s Audica. With Fuser, Harmonix is looking to revolutionize the future of music genre video games, just in time for the next generation. I took some time at PAX EAST and got in early for a closer look at Fuser, and it was a game that was spinning tracks in my head for the rest of the day.
Fuser puts players as the main disc jockey of a mammoth concert. You are not just a contract DJ for a party but the main emissary of the largest party on the planet. The energy among the thousands of party-goers is pulsating and electrifying. This night is as important to you as it is to them. For the crowd, its a moment that they won’t forget, but it’s a moment that you can make perfect through the power of music. As the DJ, you not only mix music and beats but also take requests and change the tune to the flow of the crowd. The premise of Fuser may sound incredibly familiar to the works of DJ Hero, a 2009 music game from Activision that utilized a large plastic DJ turntable as the controller. However, unlike DJ Hero, Fuser uses no plastic instruments and instead, implements an effective color-coded display to mix music.
The demo of Fuser was short but incredibly special, as I found myself dancing to the sounds of my own tune. It began by introducing me to how the music works. In Fuser, players mix music with four turntables displayed in front of them on the bottom of the screen. At the top of the screen is the music selection that players choose from. Players take one of four instrumentation from each track and attach them onto the turntables. Each song has four categories to choose from. Blue is the drum. Green is the base. Yellow is the guitar. ANd Red is the vocal. Players choose one of these categories among the long list of music tracks. While mixing, concert-goers will use social media to request to you at the stage. A concertgoer may have a particular taste in a song, which includes the year it was released. A concertgoer may want to hear a classic rock track from the 80’s or pop music from the ’90s If players can mix and spin these requests, they’ll be the heroes of the night with the biggest score.
Mixing music in Fuser took some getting used to, but it quickly became exceptionally engaging and addictive. Once I got the handle of the controls, I was able to mix 50 Cent with Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish with Blue Oyster Cult, and even Smashmouth with LMFAO. In just a few minutes, I was spinning and mixing music, creating my very own engaging beats. The controls scheme allowed me to select and mix music seamlessly, all without hassle. Before I knew it, it was impossible to ignore the infectious energy of Fuser, and I found myself dancing to the sounds of my own music.
The Fuser demo did have its challenge as the requests began to come in from the concert-goers in attendance. From hip-hop to classic rock, the requests came pouring in through the Twitter-like mobile application. At first, the requests came in few and far between, but soon I was inundated with requests, forcing me to miss some of them. Each request was another way to not only gain popularity with those in attendance but also boost my score and score multiplier. I became more experimental, mixing the old and the familiar. Fuser was giving me a special opportunity to rediscover music I grew up with but also establish the opportunity to hear new music that I unfamiliar with. Moments like this were most intriguing, as I found mixes and beats that I never would have thought possible. After about ten minutes with Fuser, the demo concluded with the roaring cheer of the crowd and the end of a successful night.
Fuser is one of the most incredible and impressive titles I have had the opportunity to see this year. It was an extraordinary demo that demonstrated a forward-thinking direction for music video games. Fuser was very accessible and easy-to-learn and allowed for it’s magic to open up right away, all to the delight and desire of the player. It was spectacular to play, and even as I write this, I crave the chance to hopefully play more. Upon launch, Fuser will have well over 100 songs, a single-player mode, a freestyle mode, and the opportunity to take the DJ skills online in online multiplayer. Fuser is tremendous. The party is just getting started.
Fuser will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC this Fall of 2020.