The chance to work on a new IP gives developers the opportunity to explore new territory. It allows them to create intriguing storylines with depth, invent stimulating characters that capture the player's interest and take new stabs at a genre that has probably seen far too many clones.
For Insomniac Games, that new stab at the third-person shooter genre involves a heavy focus on teamwork and making sure you know the battle can't be won unless you work together. Four-player coop makes you realise you're just a cog in the machine and making sure you stick together is pivotal to your mission.
"Originally the concept was four-player coop," Insomniac CEO and creator of titles like Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank tells us during a preview event. "We must have four-player coop. But at the same time we wanted to make it fun for one, two or three players. But from the very beginning we decided that there would always be four characters in the game, and that influenced a lot of our design decisions along the way."
Creating a game with four players turns out to be a much different task to creating those single player experiences. "By having four characters present all the time, you actually had to design your levels differently," adds Price. "Design your spaces differently, design the enemy makeup and the number of enemies differently. And we continued to tune things with that in mind, so certainly there were times during development when you could power through the game without worrying about teamwork but that just ended up knocking the fun out of it, and it detracted from the idea of a strong four-player coop."
In our last hands-on session with Fuse, we took a look at an early level from the single-player campaign and played around with the special Fuse weapons that granted the wielder special abilities, such as creating black holes and generating a large shield for your teammates to take cover behind.
This time we played around with the multiplayer, which involved going up against different waves of enemies and seeing how long we could survive. Just like the main campaign you have the four-player coop dynamic that remains as important as ever, but there's a level of intense action here that seems missing from the single-player.
As with all wave-based modes the level of competition gets harder the more you progress, so expect an easy challenge in the early goings before being bombarded with giant, fast-moving mechs that fire rockets as soon as they catch a glimpse of you. The way you deal with these enemies requires a lot of trial-and-error, they are a lot more aggressive than your usual AI enemies and they will hunt you down so stay out of sight and behind cover.
Unfortunately you'll have to be conservative with your bullets as well, as it's all too easy to unload clip after clip and be left with no ammo if you're not careful. A simple way around this is to pick up a fallen foe's weapon, but the standard guns just aren't as powerful - or interesting - as the Fuse weapons that you start out with. Personally I prefer to go crazy during wave-based modes and fire everything I've got at my opponent, but maybe there are players out there who will appreciate a more strategy-focused wave mode. However, having to fire a simple rifle when you've been treated to a crossbow with explodable arrows all this time feels slightly insulting.
Price informs us that these standard weapons will be upgradable in the main campaign, which at least makes them a slightly more bearable burden. "All the standard weapons you can pick up: the shotgun, burst rifle, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, whatever, you can upgrade as well," he reveals. "And so, they're part of the progression system, and we encourage players to put points into those too. So they are useful throughout the game."
Fuse is shaping up to be a very solid affair from what we've seen of it so far. It features a main campaign focusing on teamwork and powerful weaponry, and a multiplayer mode that isn't just there for the sake of being included. Our only worry is that it might lack a bit of personality at the moment and struggle to differentiate itself in a crowded market, but it certainly has the fundamentals locked down.