Horde mode. There, I said it.
Thinking back to 2008's Gears of War 2, I remember what a revelation Horde mode was. In those days, my online multiplayer rotation consisted of Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3. And while I was never terrible, my just-above-average skill made me yearn for some sort of competitive/cooperative mode in a multiplayer setting. Fast forward to today, and by God has everyone jumped on this bandwagon.
The latest iteration of this multiplayer mode comes in Echelon, Fuse's interpretation of what Insomniac President Ted Price dubs a "co-petitive mode." Fancy monikers aside, Echelon is essentially another take on the tried-and-true formula.
Fuse (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed])
Call it Horde, call it Firefight -- whatever name it chooses to go by, I find myself burnt out on wave-based combat modes. That being said, Echelon carries some fundamental differences that help separate it from similar modes.
First, there's the waves themselves, which are specifically structured and cap at 22 per map. One wave may have you defending a generator, while another will have you capturing an ammo crate. This leads up to the sixth wave which is always a sub-boss, then the cycle restarts until you hit the sub-boss on wave 12. I hope you're still following me, chief.
After that, waves are a crapshoot as to what you get for the remaining 13-22. The benefit of this is that objective waves give Echelon a decidedly more offensive feel. Whereas Horde with its fifty waves, and Firefight with its unlimited waves, are more an exercise in endurance, Echelon feels closer to what we've seen with Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. It tasks players to come out of their fortified holes in order to advance.
Then there's the wave cap. 22 waves may sound like a cake walk, but trust me, these will break you. The group that played ahead of me made it the furthest out of everyone that day, and they were stopped cold by the sixth wave's sub-boss. My team made it to wave two on our first attempt, just scraping our way into wave five the second go around. And when we were told that it was set to easy, you can only imagine the frustration.
While we were told that the difficulty has yet to be balanced, what also makes Echelon such a challenge are the powers -- or rather, my team's ignoring them. If you play this game like a straight third-person shooter, you will get wrecked. Fuse demands that you learn when, how, and where best to use your powers.
My time was spent playing with Izzy, the group healer. While anyone can revive a downed teammate, Izzy can heal teammates from a distance. It's a skill I never did quite get the hang of, and the team's performance suffered for it. When I did get into the rhythm of it, there was a real sense of accomplishment to be had from hiding behind a teammate's shield and quickly healing a downed ally, who then turns and crystallizes a riot shield squad, who are then taken out by a well-placed grenade. There's also Fuse itself. The game's namesake acts as a sort of rage mode that, when activated, both increases damage output and regenerates ammo. While you can do relatively well without Fuse in the early rounds, sub-bosses and boss enemies are near impossible to take down without it.
There are definitely some interesting ideas at work here. All told though, I found myself unable to shake this burnt-out feeling towards these types of modes. While it can be good fun and provide a brutal challenge, Echelon is hardly a reinvention or meaningful iteration on the formula. Provided that the difficulty is balanced out in time for full release, I could see this one doing well for itself, but perhaps not remain a permanent part of anyone's multiplayer rotation.
|11:30 AM on 05.07.2013|
Fuse demo is available now
Here's a trailer for a demo for...well, if you're at work or something. Otherwise, don't watch this trailer and get to downloading the demo for Fuse! The demo takes place midway through the game, giving you a chance to play ...more
|4:30 PM on 05.03.2013|
Fuse demo drops next week with split-screen support
The general vibe I'm getting about Fuse is that of disappointment. The cooperative shooter isn't what people want from Insomniac Games, and although I feel similarly, we should probably wait until we have first-hand expe...more
|11:15 AM on 05.01.2013|
New Fuse trailer shows that technology will kill us all
A brand new trailer for Insomniac's latest, Fuse, gives us a better look at the upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 title. You've got technology gone wrong in a third-person co-op shooter, with characters with either super red hair or...more
|9:30 PM on 03.23.2013|
Insomniac sets its sights on a May release for Fuse
Insomniac Games' cooperative shooter Fuse will be releasing on May 28 and May 31 in North America and Europe, respectively, the studio announced today. This comes after a delay earlier this year and something of a confused id...more
|8:00 PM on 03.02.2013|
Meet the four heroes of Fuse
Fuse is the four-player cooperative third-person shooter from Insomniac Games and stars four distinct playable characters. And you can get to know each one through these four new trailers focusing on each star. You get to se...more
|5:00 PM on 02.15.2013|
Fuse skips competitive multiplayer, opts for Echelon
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 gam...more
|7:45 PM on 01.30.2013|
Fuse gets delayed to Spring 2013
Electronic Arts held an earnings call earlier today and announced that Insomniac's Fuse has been delayed to Q1 of fiscal 2014. That gives us a release window of somewhere between the beginning of April and the end of June 201...more
|9:30 PM on 12.18.2012|
Insomniac shows off latest Fuse trailer and screenshots
I'm not really sure what to think about Fuse. I was all about the game once I heard that it was a third-person shooter coming from Insomniac. Then they decided the game needed a more serious tone, but they were also going to...more
|12:55 AM on 09.14.2012|
This is what Insomniac's Fuse looks like in action
This past week we got to tell you all about Insomniac's Fuse, their new third-person co-op shooter. Originally called Overstrike, the new direction of the game is bringing a more serious tone while still keeping the over-the...more
|5:15 PM on 05.16.2013|
EA has zero Wii U games in development
Madden is skipping the Wii U this year, marking the first time since 1991 that a Nintendo console missed out on a new Madden. And the Frostbite 3 engine will not be adapted for the Wii U, eliminating the possibility that Batt...more
|1:00 PM on 05.16.2013|
New EA MOBA Dawngate coming from Waystone Games
It appears as though EA is looking to delve further into the MOBA genre with the premature reveal of Dawngate. The main site went live yesterday, only giving a glimpse at the art style as well as some background on the develo...more
|6:51 PM on 05.15.2013|
EA will be killing off the Online Pass
Electronic Arts has today declared that it will be discontinuing use of its controversial (read: shitty) online pass system, no longer requiring an access code to unlock features. The scheme, put in place to make money off us...more