Wave-based co-operative with a twist
Contrary to popular belief, competitive multiplayer is not required for every shooter that releases these days. Heck, it's not even required for every AAA game. We've seen multiplayer shoehorned into multiple high-profile games like BioShock and last year's Spec Ops: The Line, which featured an exceptional campaign but still chose to include a competitive suite.
Insomniac Games is one of the few developers that believes this notion, and thus, chose not to include any sort of versus multiplayer with their upcoming co-operative shooter, Fuse. Instead, the developer placed its efforts into creating more co-operative goodness.
Fuse (Xbox 360 [previewed], PlayStation 3)
"Early on we did try competitive multiplayer and we realized we could have done deathmatch and capture the flag, but it seems like a lot of other games are doing that," Ted Price, Insomniac Games Founder and CEO told Destructoid. "We wanted to create something that allowed you to use the abilities you're developing in campaign in a way that feels fun and different."
The result is Echelon, a new take on wave-based co-operative play that has you and your squad playing more offensively than what's found in other horde-style modes. In Echelon, you are constantly bringing the fight to the enemy in a 12-round battle that features randomized objectives. There's the obligatory bare-bones, kill 'em all objective, Carnage, but things open up from here, with mini-gun-wielding mini-bosses constantly entering the battle to cause a ruckus.
The only defensive-style objective in Echelon is Hot Zone, which requires you to defend a precious canister from enemy forces. This is where Insomniac said a balanced team would greatly come into use, as Dalton's character, who wields a decked out shield, would be ideal protecting the canister against incoming attacks. Of course, you can always use Fuse's LEAP ability and switch between characters on the fly, if you so wish.
High-Value Target is a new spin on the classic "kill this specific guy with the huge marker over his head" mode, because the longer the specified target stays alive, more reinforcements will come to his aid.
Coins, gold bars and money bags are constantly dropped in Echelon, and snatching those up will allow you to buff up your various team perks as well as purchase new gear. And, as Price mentioned, all your upgrades and experience obtained in Fuse are reflected throughout the entire game.
"Both of these modes feel like you're constantly building on skills that you've been developing in the other mode," Price said, "and because there's a unified progression system, the progress you make in Echelon is also reflected in the campaign, and vice-versa."
Price added that Insomniac is still working out balancing issues pertaining to the universal progression system when asked how the campaign's difficulty would scale if someone plays a ton of Echelon beforehand. In its current build, Price said the campaign only adjusted difficulty per the amount of players in the lobby.
After playing multiple rounds with a co-op partner, Echelon was quite an enjoyable experience, and I did notice my play style alter into a more offensive approach than what I would typically perform in say, Gears of War 3's Horde mode. With the seemingly overwhelming amount of wave-based games released nowadays, it's good to know that Insomniac is throwing a curve ball.
For a more in-depth look at Echelon, check out our preview.