Fuser's Collaborative Multiplayer Is the Music Game's Not-So-Secret Weapon

The multiplayer for Fuser seems like the sort of thing that will immediately become a hit. It served as the major focus of my latest demo and hands-on preview of the video game from Harmonix. While it doesn’t directly compare to the instant success of video games like Fall Guys, some of the same DNA is clearly embedded in both in the sense that there’s a joy to just seeing how all the chips fall when you’re not fully in control. It helps that competing against others for the hottest mix is basically the end goal of Fuser’s power fantasy.

Fuser’s multiplayer comes in two different flavors: collaborative and competitive. The competitive pits two simultaneous players against each other for control of the mix, but it’s the collaborative, freestyle mode that Harmonix showed off during our recent demo. This mode allows players and spectators alike to get involved with what’s being played. As we’d seen before, part of the game is responding to requests from the audience, and the multiplayer essentially makes everyone else the audience with up to four players (and eight spectators) shifting through the hot seat of having to mix songs for themselves.

Each player gets one, full 32-bar loop to create their own beats, inheriting what came before, and everyone that’s not currently mixing something together gets the opportunity to send up their own emojis to show just how, for example, fire the current mix is while requesting their own additions. This isn’t a free-for-all request system, however, and instead offers spectators with a couple of options to pick from, and it then pops up for the current player in the same way as an AI-generated request might.

As for actually mixing in multiplayer, the full set of deck abilities like BPM controls, silencing specific discs, and so on, are available to everyone save for transitions, which could make things a little awkward considering the limited space available for each player to fiddle with the mix. Additionally, everyone brings their own crate of songs to the table, even if everyone doesn’t own those songs.

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(Photo: Harmonix)

“The sort of defining rule is that in Fuser you can listen to anything regardless of whether you own it or not, you just can’t mix with it. So if you inherit a mix that has DLC that you don’t own, you can eject that disc, but you can’t pull it into your inventory,” says Daniel Sussman, product manager for Fuser at Harmonix, during the demo.

And this, the collaborative multiplayer, is Fuser’s not-so-secret weapon. It shouldn’t really be any surprise at this point that the standout aspect of a Harmonix video game is its multiplayer, but it’s a whole different thing to actually experience it for yourself. It’s not quite the same as attending a music festival or concert yourself, but it’s about as close as a video game has come thus far.

fuser multiplayer emojis
(Photo: Harmonix)

Another big option shown off during the preview is the addition of effects. This seems to work in much the same way as previous options in that it’s just another one of many tools in the player’s arsenal, but it’s still fun to see folks add, say, a low-pass filter to whatever’s playing on the fly. Overall, it would seem that the campaign is geared to regularly introduce new concepts at a fairly quick clip in order to familiarize players with it without totally overwhelming them.

“My hope is that, as players play through the campaign, that once they’re on the other end of it they have sort of developed the skills and a personal style, but they’ve also been informed to different compositional techniques,” adds Sussman.

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While I haven’t had the opportunity to play Fuser from beginning to end, I’ve seen and played plenty of it at this point. Enough to say, at least, that Sussman’s hope is not misplaced, and that anyone regardless of skill level likely has something to learn about their own relationship with music through playing Fuser. What higher compliment could there possibly be?

Fuser is set to release for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 10th. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the upcoming video game right here.