A recent bevy of previews just dropped from our recent Fuse press tour. That’s always a tense moment. We are very proud of what we’ve done with Fuse, but at every new showing you’re always hoping the fresh eyes on the game see what you’ve been seeing for the past two years.
Across the board, previewers understood one of the core components of the game: lethal teamwork. They saw how we specifically tuned each character so that working together is not only satisfying – it’s sometimes necessary. Previewers got a “trial-by-fire” of this when they tried out Echelon.
Echelon is our wave-based objective mode. We know what you’re thinking – “Another defense mode where we fight over the same spot of the map?!?” Well, no, it’s not just another wave-based mode – it’s an evolution of that. Most of those modes are defensive, but in Echelon we always want the players to be active and many times, on offense.
A game of Echelon features 12 rounds. The sixth and twelfth rounds are bosses, but the other 10 rounds are randomized with various objectives, that can appear on various places around one of six varied maps. That rotating set of objectives will force you to maneuver around a large map and constantly alter your strategy. In truth, it’s a mode that feels like it’s been injected with the DNA of our popular Resistance 2 co-op mode. And, just like the campaign, it can be played with anywhere from one to four human players.
No matter how many times you play, it always manages to feel different. Depending on what character you are (which you can change on-the-fly with LEAP), which map you’re on, which objective you get and where it’s at on the map, there are tons of combinations and variety. On top of that, the round affects the objective as well by increasing the difficulty and enemy numbers and assortment.
When the journalist took the chance to rock the controller they found it really, really difficult; while still being fun.
Good! We want this game to be hard – Echelon especially so. However, difficulty is a very fine balance. On one hand, you want to challenge people so they feel as if they are accomplishing something. But on the other, you don’t want to frustrate players to the point of quitting. Things become trickier when you factor in co-op that can accommodate anywhere from one to four human players. Fun times.
But, that’s the challenge we’ve taken on. And the press tour players taught us that we were well on our way to finding that difficulty balance, but we weren’t quite there yet. In the past few weeks, we have tweaked Echelon to ensure that it’s just perfect for players to enjoy.
What are those tweaks?
- Guards (the most common enemies) were tuned to be on par with the campaigns “Hard” difficulty.
- Heavies (the mini-boss-esque enemies) were tuned to be on par with the campaign’s “Lethal” mode.
- Earlier waves of Echelon were toned down a bit: Mike Birkhead, one of our Designers, explains, “The early waves were really brutal for a long time. This was necessary because, as a general rule, you can always make something easier, but it can be very difficult (if not impossible) to make something harder. Once we were happy with how the latter waves were feeling, then it was just a matter of dialing it back.”
The result is baby bear’s porridge: Juuust right. The early rounds, while no cake walk, will ease you into the system before the later ones really test your teamwork capabilities. Believe us; Echelon will still heavily test your skills. You will need to understand the nuances of the game in order to get far. (Just ask all the journalists who failed to get past Wave 7.) But now we believe that it hits the right balance of engaging brutality that you expect from a hardcore game.
Till next time!