So here's your guide to the four co-op characters in Fuse, that make up the "Overstrike 9" team, dedicated to fighting the villanious Raven force around the world. Players will be able to play any of these characters in online co-op, and Insomniac has also created a function called "Leap" that will allow any player to jump, at the press of a button, into any character not already being controlled (so a solo player can jump into any character, two players can jump into either free character, and so on). And all of these characters not only earn experience upgrades as they play, but they also build up fuse power into a "fusion mode" (activated by anyone on the team) that then rewards unlimited ammo and extra functionality in their fusion weapons. Finally, in addition to each character-specific fuse weapon, each character also gets two conventional weapons to wield (one heavy and light, per character), and grenades to throw as well.
Read on to hear where these four characters come from, and what you'll find their strengths and weaknesses are as you play through Fuse.
Dalton Brooks, "The Tank"
Most of the Overstrike 9 team has a rough past, but Dalton's might be the roughest, says the game's creative director Brian Allgeier. "He ended up working for Raven and he had an old flame he used to work with called Mei Lin Mao, and he was kind of staying there for all the wrong reasons." In a flashback cutscene, Mei Lin (who the team will run into during the game's main storyline) asks him not only to kill an enemy, but cut out his "beautiful eyes" for her. Creepy. "He needed to break away, to the point where essentially he appeared to be killed, and he managed to move over to Overstrike 9," says Allgeier.
Dalton's main fuse weapon is the Magshield, which is created by combining the alien element fuse with ferrofluid, a real-life substance that's essentially a liquid controlled with magnets. "He is the hardened soldier," says Allgeier. "He uses that magshield to push forward, and just uses brute force to decimate enemies."
The Magshield can absorb enemy gunfire while it's up (which you simply hold the left trigger to do), and then blast it outwards with the right trigger, completely obliterating any close-up enemies. Dalton can also drop shields in the field of battle, and any teammates who fire through his one-way shields to kill an enemy will get bonus point rewards.
Jacob Kimble, "The Sniper"
Jacob's origin story is that of an LAPD cop with a vengeful taste for justice. The flashback cinematic shown to the press features him, in uniform, pouring gasoline over a car trunk containing a child killer, and then throwing a lighter on top of it. "Jacob's history is as an LAPD detective," says Allgeier, "and he always felt that the ends justified the means." All of these characters have pasts probably past due on catching up with them, but Jacob's specifically seems the most volatile.
In terms of gameplay, Jacob finds a fuse-powered crossbow called The Arcshot in the game's first mission, and can eventually upgrade it into a one-shot weapon. The gun also has a secondary fire mode: The bolts, which are made of fuse and liquid mercury, will combust after a period of time, doing damage to the enemy they're stuck in or anyone around him. With a few more upgrades, Jacob can even choose when the combustion happens, so the Arcshot's ammo can turn into a sort of trapshot, where Jacob can set up some shots, and then blow them when enemies come into range. "His role on the battlefield is to keep distance between him and the enemy," says Allgeier.
Naya Deveraux, "The Assault"
Overstrike was originally designed as a four-player stealth game, but Allgeier says that one problem with that was that the characters were all support-based, and none of them felt very powerful on their own. That was the case with Naya, whose "weapon was originally just cloaking, and we felt that she needed something more offensive," he says.
What they came up with for Naya (a thief who's been in and out of trouble with the law her whole life) is the Warp Rifle, a combination of fuse and the theoretically scientific antimatter. It's an assault rifle, more or less, but when it's fired at an an enemy, they'll get a debuff on them that slowly builds up over time. Fire enough at one enemy, and Naya's gun will create a mini black hole on them that does area-of-effect damage, and also creates a singularity on any close enemies with the same debuff. In other words, it's a chain effect: Hit three or four enemies with the gun, focus in on one of them until his singularity goes off, and then they'll all explode in a flashy warp hole of damage.
Naya's cloaking skill, then, is basically just used to let her flank around the battlefield when necessary, finding just the right angle to chain enemies from. Both abilities can be upgraded, so eventually she can stay under cover longer, or make use of a faster fire rate from the Warp Rifle.
Izzy Sinclair, "The Healer"
"Izzy's definitely the more technical of the group, and she has a background as an information broker," says Allgeier. "She was convicted of white collar crimes, joined Overstrike and got her hands on the Shatter Gun." Izzy's specialty was originally just crowd control, and fans really enjoyed the idea of the bubble gun from the original trailer. But as Insomniac played with that idea, says Allgeier, it found the gun worked better in theory than action.
The Shatter Gun is instead build around crystals, which are made out of fuze and black melanite. Hitting an enemy with Izzy's gun will cause crystals to form around it, which she (or other team members) can shatter for more damage and devastation. The crystals will link up, too, so Izzy can run around just freezing up enemies in place, leaving the rest of the team to clean up the mess.
Izzy's secondary fuse action is a healing crystal, which can be thrown like a grenade. It lands on the battlefield with a green circle around it, and anyone in that circle will either be healed up to full health, or can even be revived after going down. In its current form, the healing crystal is a little hard to aim -- Insomniac is considering a more Gears of War-style grenade tossing interface. But in the final game, Izzy's leveled-up crystal is meant to help her support downed teammates at a larger distance.
Izzy has had one other little change made to her over development, but fans never saw this one. In the current game and in last year's trailer, she has red hair. But Insomniac showed off an early version of the character to the press where she was blonde instead.
That's the Overstrike 9 team. Insomniac says they'll find their fuse weapons early on in the game, and then players will spend the rest of the game earning experience and leveling them up, filling out a few character-specific skill trees as the game goes along. They certainly aren't exactly the same as the characters we say in last year's trailer, but Insomniac is standing behind these tweaks, and hopefully the game will be the better for them when it arrives next year.