Save the Trees!
Skill Trees! You know what they are. A progressive set of enhancements roughly resembling a tree. A very, very unrealistic tree. Well, Fuse has one of those for each of its 4 unique characters, as well as a separate set of team perks. However, the road to get the progression in Fuse to feel natural and impactful took quite a few turns throughout development.
First, let’s go over the basics. In Fuse, you use your XP to level-up. When you level up – you can unlock a skill for that character. The skills can be anywhere from “More sidearm damage” to “Unlock Fusion mode.” By the time you unlock and upgrade each skill – you’ll be all the way at level 35. It’s not possible to max out a single character’s tree in one campaign playthrough, but you carry over you unlocks to further playthroughs and Echelon. Yay, replay value!
Moreover, there is a separate set of upgradable unlocks called Team Perks. These affect the entire team and range from a good ole’ XP boost to reduced bleed-out time. To unlock them, you need to spend Fuse Credits, which are bars of gold littered throughout the campaign. However, the primary way to acquire them is by Playing Echelon mode, where they will literally fall from the sky. Be warned, though – Team Perks do not stack, so making sure your team composition is in place is imperative to success on harder difficulties.
Ok, cool. We’ve got all those boring facts out of the way. Now let’s talk about how we messed up!
When we first introduced the idea of Fuse credits, we revamped the Skill Tree and Team Perks to include both Credit unlocks and XP unlocks. The result? Confusion. Players had a hard time understanding what unlocked what. So, the decision was made to separate the two unlock systems in a unified structure. Boom. No more confusion.
Another issue we ran into was an overabundance of skills and perks that only provided marginal increases to stats. The result as Lead Designer Joel Goodsell recalls was that were perceived as “low value from players and avoided.” Well, that’s not good. It’s our goal to make sure each time you upgrade you actually feel upgraded. So, three fixes were made: 1) We cut the weakest perks, 2) Consolidated several to make them more functional, 3) Pump up the numerical upgrades and rebalance the rest of the game to fit.
Other changes such as opting against focusing certain characters on specific non-xenotech weapons and streamlining the Tree so that major upgrades (Fuse Grenades and Fusion Mode) took priority round out the major overhaul our Progression system went though. The overall theme? Streamline and Enhance. Make Skills and Perks easier to understand, while also beefing them up so each one has noticeable impact. At the end of the day – that means a more satisfied player. And we like that. Shocking, I know.
It took us a little while to get there, but we believe we’ve hit it. Don’t take out word for it, though – See for yourself when Fuse drops on May 28th.