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For music and festival lovers who are suffering from withdrawal symptoms this year, Harmonix have a solution in the form of FUSER, a rhythm-based game which lets you control the music.
Players assume the role of a DJ, and control the music by dropping tracks in time to the beat onto a set of decks. Each deck represents a different musical element, such as the vocals or the beat. Once all decks are in use your masterpiece slowly begins to come into fruition and you can tweak as much or as little as you please by using songs from your crate.
Sounds like the best festival ever, right? FUSER has a smorgasbord of music to pick from, covering all genres and including some of the world's biggest artists. Before each set, players can create a (record) crate, which includes your favourite songs to mix. These songs can then be drawn upon throughout your performance, during which you can combine elements from each song to make a wholly original masterpiece.
Upon release, the game will feature over 100 tracks to pick from. And there's already quite the lineup starting to form, with Harmonix confirming artists including Rick Astley, Nicki Minaj, Armin van Buuren and Zedd. An eclectic mix, I'm sure you'll agree.
As you play, you'll have to respond to both the crowd and the challenges set by the game. While at first you might be drawn to mixing tracks you like, you'll soon learn that it isn't that simple, as the crowd might start to request favourite songs from those in your crate. Alongside iconic tracks, you also have the choice of instruments, which you can substitute in to complement your set as you see fit. You can also customise the pyrotechnics, lighting and video screens which display behind you during the performance. As you progress through FUSER, you'll also unlock additional elements so you can tailor the look and feel of your unique individual style.
Harmonix are no stranger to rhythm-based games, having developed the Rock Band and Dance Central series, and more importantly started the Guitar Hero series, so it should come as no surprise to you that rhythm is the key to success here. Just above the decks you are able to see a timeline which maps out each beat based on the song you are selecting, and this is also highlighted in the colour of the deck so you know exactly when to drop in that next track.
The game eases you into the mix, with the earlier levels introducing you to the basics of mixing and using instruments. However, the tempo starts to increase as you progress through the game, so it won't be long until you find yourself juggling multiple tracks at once just to please the crowd.
The game is an incredibly social experience, allowing you to share parts of your mix on social media and in-game. You can also follow other players' profiles and keep an eye on their FUSER progress. There's also a competitive co-op mode, in which up to four players can mix together competitively to see who gets the most emoji reactions from other players. You can also invite viewers into the mix so they can enjoy the festival purely as a spectator.
FUSER lets you put on the kind of display which is often associated with huge events such as Tomorrowland or Ultra Music Festival, which is a welcome sight for many who are into that scene, myself included. FUSER helps fill a void which has been missing for most of the year, and I personally can't wait to see the full song line-up and headline my own virtual festival when the game launches on a busy November 10th.