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Finding your way in ‘Fuse': A guide to surviving Insomniac’s co-op fragfest

Fuse guide 1

Insomniac Games introduced its new sci-fi universe this week with Fuse, a co-op-friendly third-person shooter whose principal hook is the specific abilities of its four playable characters. The four members of Overstrike 9 – Dalton, Izzy, Jacob, and Naya – all bring unique talents to the cover-based combat, with some help from their powerful Fuse weapons and an assortment of secondary abilities.

Fuse serves up a steep challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Especially if you prepare accordingly – that’s what this guide is for. We’ll take a look at each of the four characters, what their strengths are, and how you can best put them to good use. We’ll also run through some basic tips for getting the most out of your game. You know the drill: Read on, play better.

Cooperation is key

Find at least one friend to play Fuse with, though getting a full party of four real players to replace the AI is ideal. This is a game in which most of the combat is built around massive combat arenas. Any given encounter generally offers at least half a dozen different flanking routes. Friendly AI is smart enough to stick with the human-controlled player(s) and even split up when the situation allows for it, but you can’t issue squad orders, limiting your tactics and turning a surgical strike into a head on confrontation.

Headsets are a necessity. Plan your actions out, communicate regularly, and do your best to work as a team. You also earn more points for combining your fuse attacks, plus they are devastating when done properly. Stealth play is nearly impossible in a solo game, but it’s much easier to coordinate with four humans as you quietly pick apart a room full of enemies. Fuse supports drop-in/drop-out co-op play; just make sure if you’re the host that you leave the session open to friends when you first fire up a save.

Going lone wolf

You can play Fuse solo as long as you’re okay with taking a more cautious approach. The competent friendly AI is mostly solid when it comes to rescuing you from a downed state. They’re less effective when you stray too far from the pack, but that’s to be expected.

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More importantly, any session with less than four human players gives those who are there the opportunity to take advantage of the LEAP feature. Holding down the Back/Select button brings up the LEAP menu, a four-way cross with each of the four playable characters mapped to a specific button. You switch characters on the fly, provided there isn’t another human already controlling them.

The LEAP feature is particularly helpful for solo players during the tougher combat encounters in Fuse. This is especially true later on in the game when ammo pickups become scarce. Switching characters is almost a necessity during the final mission, when the villainous Raven Corporation starts to throw all of its forces at you.

Skill trees and team perks

Each of the four playable characters in Fuse brings something different to combat, but all of them follow roughly the same progression over four tiers. The first relates specifically to the character’s Fuse weapon, the second unlocks a support ability, the third powers up grenades with Fuse, and the fourth unlocks Fusion, a limited-use supercharge that gifts the entire team with unlimited Fuse ammo for a brief period.

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Moving from one tier to the next requires an investment of five skill points in the current one. Branching options in each tier generally allow players to focus more on offense or on defense as they please. Skill points are earned as you level up, from XP-earning collectibles and combat. You earn XP for your entire profile as you play; characters that aren’t under your direct control receive less, but earned levels carry across all modes and playthroughs. If you are playing solo, be sure to jump into the other characters frequently and manually level them up.

Separate from the skill trees are team perks, which must be purchased using credits. There are two ways to earn credits in Fuse: from collectibles in the story and by playing Echelon, the objective-based survival mode the stands apart from the campaign. Team perks, as you’ve likely gathered, benefit the whole team. Only one can be equipped at a time, but they’re also very expensive, both to purchase and to upgrade. It’s best to focus on building up one at a time. Team perks don’t stack either, so try to have everyone go for separate boosters if you play co-op with a regular group.

Making the most of Dalton

Fuse DaltonThink of Dalton as the tank class of the Fuse foursome. His Mag-Shield is most effective offensively at close ranges. In addition to blocking incoming fire, its shield energy can also be projected forward in a burst that severely damages and occasionally even liquefies any enemy standing in front of it, but its range is limited. If you are playing with real people, having them shoot their Fuse weapons through the shield offers a higher point total. Prioritize skills that improve both the Mag-Shield and Dalton’s survivability in general as you level up.

Dalton’s second-tier support skill allows him to throw down a free-standing Mag-Shield directly in front of him. The default duration is lengthy to start with, and it can be further improved with certain skill selections. Another, more team-oriented skill powers up both the free-standing shield and the one that Dalton carries so that every bullet fired through it is charged for extra damage. It is very useful later in the game to throw out a shield and then rush Dalton forward to tank while the rest of the team draws aggro in relative safety. 

Making the most of Izzy

Fuse IzzyIzzy’s Shattergun is devastating against tight groupings of enemies thanks to it wide spread. The Xenotech weapon behaves like a fully automatic assault rifle, though its accuracy tails off quickly at medium ranges. Sustained fire from the Shattergun causes enemies to slow down and eventually turn into a solid chunk of glowing black crystal – complete with its own health bar – that can then be shattered with conventional weapons. She may be the closest thing Fuse has to a support character, so having her team up with someone that can take advantage of the solidified enemies with their own Fuse weapons can lead to massive amounts of damage. 

Her tier two support ability is a Med Beacon that, when thrown (like a grenade) creates a limited-time area of effect bubble that quickly heals and even revives anyone inside it. The best place for Izzy is at Dalton’s flank, as it puts her close enough to the action to be effective with the Shattergun while keeping her in a central enough position to land a med beacon wherever it might be needed.

Making the most of Naya

Fuse NayaThe Warp Rifle that Naya totes into battle is super-fun to use. It is an assault rifle-like weapon, much like Izzy’s Shattergun, though its tighter bullet spread makes it more effective at medium and long ranges. Pour enough fire into an enemy and watch as a miniature singularity tears him apart. This effect chains as well, so any enemies caught in the initial blast become the focal point of their own mini-singularities. Time it right with a tight enough group of foes, and you can wipe out an entire squad in seconds.

Naya’s support skill is a cloaking device that renders her invisible for short periods of time. Of all of the Fuse characters, Naya is the most flexible to play as. Her Warp Rifle is plenty effective on its own at varying ranges, and the cloaking ability allows her to reach flanking positions that the others might have a tougher time reaching. The cloak is also useful for reviving teammates when Izzy’s Med Beacon is recharging, since Naya can rush in and pick her teammate back up without being seen.

Making the most of Jacob

Fuse JacobJacob and his scope-equipped Arcshot crossbow are well-suited to a sniper/recon role. Keep him in the rear whenever possible, and have him prioritize snipers. Once you’ve hit his tier two support ability, shield-equipped riot troops should be his focus. Jacob’s secondary ability fills more of an offensive role than the others: it powers up his Arcshot bolts with a remote detonation capability that incinerates any targets nearby. It’s always a devastating attack, but it’s especially useful against the pesky riot troops. Even if you only hit a single troopers shield, the explosion can catch anyone nearby. You can also use it like a trap if you know where enemies will appear. The trade off is that this ability uses additional ammo, and quickly. 

Build Jacob’s skills around dealing more damage and creating more opportunities to use the Arcshot. Also, equip him with a sniper rifle and a pistol sidearm. Kit out the rest of the characters with whichever conventional weapons you prefer personally, but Jacob is most effective at long ranges. Keep him well removed from the action and watch as his kill count skyrockets.

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