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Fuser hands-on preview: Dropping the beat

On the surface, Fuser looks like 'DropMix minus DropMix,' but Harmonix looks to be making something deeper than that. Shacknews gives the upcoming music game a try.

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It was easy to jump to conclusions regarding Harmonix's next project. Fuser looked like it was fairly straightforward. It was "DropMix minus DropMix." That is to say, it was the developer's old DropMix game without the physical component attached to it.

However, after taking a closer look at the game, Fuser appears to be much more than that. It looks to be a love letter to outdoor music festival culture as a whole. Shacknews recently had a chance to put on our favorite band tee and check out Fuser for the first time to witness Harmonix's love for the Coachellas of the world.

Fuser takes players to outdoor music festivals, where the idea is to entertain the crowd with mixes of some of the best hits of yesterday and today. Whether or not you played DropMix when it released back in 2017, one of its core principles remains in place, in that songs are separated out by four different qualities: Drums, Keys/Horns, Guitar/Strings, and Vocals. All of these are separated by color. This is where the similarities with DropMix end and where Fuser becomes its own experience entirely.

In the Campaign, DJ sets play out similar to Rock Band in that the idea is to keep the crowd engaged. Players can do this by keeping their sets varied, completing different challenges, fulfilling crowd requests, and timing any disc changes to the dropbeat. There's a lot to take in here, but Fuser's tutorial is very friendly and will have even the most novice of DJs spinning tracks within minutes. You'll only have so many songs you can take to each set and players will have to fill their crate before starting any session, so part of the challenge will be determining which songs will work best with different crowds. Players will have more songs to choose from as they go along. On top of that, Harmonix notes that Fuser will launch with over 100 songs, a handful of which have been previously revealed.

For the serious DJ, Fuser gets more complex as it goes on. Players have the option to record loops and inject them into their sets. A big part of the formula is not only working with the songs available, but also taking song loops to create something fresh and exciting. Even before using loops, I was already finding dozens of different combinations using components of songs like "Call Me Maybe" and "Party Rock Anthem." Adding loops add even more variety to what already looks to be a deep musical experience.

The Campaign is all about progressing through the outdoor music festival scene. Players will get to explore different locations across the nation, paying homage to festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. Part of the experience is looking the part, so players will earn different outfit pieces for their DJ avatars, which include costume pieces and hats to help you bring out your inner Daft Punk.

If you're more about the music, then you'll want to jump into Freestyle mode. This is a pressure-free environment where players can practice mixing their beats, try out new sets, record their own loops, or just create their own parties in the comfort of their own living room.

This is a small slice of what's expected to be an even bigger Fuser package. Details on multiplayer and how that will work are expected to be revealed at a later date. In the meantime, Fuser looks to offer the digital DropMix experience while also paying its respects to a greater music subculture. Drop the beat yourself when Fuser releases on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch this fall.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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