Throughout the years, Harmonix has become one of those go-to developers that really knows its way around a good music game. Whatever Frequency and Amplitude weren’t able to establish, the Rock Band games clearly were. But outside of its VR fare, many were wondering what its next step would be in this evolution. At PAX East 2020 this weekend, Harmonix put its next move on full display: Fuser.

A new kind of DJ Hero?

While some people may be con-fused (see what I did there?) with the title, it makes sense. This is essentially a DJ game, like its card game DropMix but without the card games. Style is everything here, and being able to mix up tunes to your liking is really something. But that’s just the beginning of the strategy it includes.

Fuser puts you on a stage where your job is to entertain the crowd. To do this, you’ll need to select from different songs in your arsenal and drop various beats. They’re separated into four categories, namely vocals, drum/backbeat, bassline, and guitar/rhythm. How you mix them is completely up to you, but it never hurts to do some experimentation. I mean, who knew that Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and current radio favorite “Old Time Road” would actually go great together?

So you have four different DJ plates in which to mix the tunes across. As the song goes on, you’ll also see requests come in from the crowd. These can be anything, from a request for old 70’s beats (from, say, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”) to someone that really wants to hear Billie Eilish. You can fulfill these in real-time, switching up any of the beats and bumping up your star rating. You could also ignore them, but more than likely, that’ll hurt your popularity. Keep the crowd happy.

Dropping sick beats

Fuser Gameplay

There’s also a beat counter that appears right above the DJ table. As it turns out, how you drop these new songs into play can also affect your rating. You’ll want to wait for the proper spot to put them in. Once it comes and you do so, the crowd gets amped and your rating goes up. It’s a timing thing, and Harmonix does it particularly well here.

The game’s visuals are limited thus far, with only the one stage and female DJ type in the demo. However, it looks entertaining, like you’re in the middle of an unstoppable party. And the lighting is a lot of fun, almost interacting with the songs you’re putting together, in a way. The final Fuser release will obviously have more stages and DJs to play around with, as well as bigger crowds and more challenges.

But the thing here is the music. Harmonix did a lot of research into making each of the created songs stand out, and it shows. There wasn’t a bad mix in the bunch as we put together everything from “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash to “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. The game will feature over 100 songs, with the potential to grow the library even further with possible downloadable content. What’s more, there’s a special button where you can randomize everything and really amp the crowd up. This adds a new dynamic – and song – you may not have recognized before. This is sure to keep the game fresh… although, honestly, we’re not sure how something like this could get boring.

This ain’t no wedding DJ sim

Fuser could be Harmonix’s biggest release to date, and that’s saying something in the face of Rock Band. It’s relatively easy to use, but it’s a lot of fun to play so far. And depending on the songs it uses and what you add, its party can go a long way.

You can check out its website to learn more about the game before it releases on Steam later this year. Turn up the music!

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