Rock Band developer Harmonix reveals their next game: free-to-play FPS Chroma

The studio made famous by rhythm games Rock Band and Dance Central is entering an entirely new arena with their the F2P first-person shooter Chroma.

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If you had to guess one of the games Harmonix has secretly been working on since Dance Central 3, your first guess would probably not be a "free-to-play, music-driven, first-person, multiplayer shooter" for PC and Steam. But that's exactly the game I saw at a recent demo for the company's upcoming arena-based shooter: Chroma

Harmonix director of publishing and PR John Drake described the goal behind the game: "We want to make sure that shooter players can come in, even if they're not musical, and actually play the game pretty much right away and feel good about it. And we want to make sure that music fans who aren't hardcore shooter players have an access point to come and be 'beat heads' who are really good at the game in a different way. The past couple months has been about finding the sweet spot between those two different things."

To make the shooter aspects of the game, Harmonix is teaming up with the developers at Hidden Path Entertainment, the team behind Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But why not make the entire game themselves? Drake said, "We know music, we know game mechanics, we know our player base, and we know what feels good in terms of sound. But we also know we shouldn't build a shooter from the ground up by ourselves, because that would be a very cocky move."

To make the game feel familiar, Chroma features the same standard shooter classes you'd expect, but each character adds a unique rhythmic twist. The Assault class has a pray-and-spray machine gun, but his grenade launcher lobs explosives that only go off on the downbeat. The Engineer (probably the most rhythm-intensive class currently in the game) dual-wields pistols that force you to navigate a two-button, Rock Band-like note highway to fire. The gun locks-on to your target though, so you're able to focus on nailing the pattern rather than keeping the enemy in your sights.

The Sneak class is a fast-moving sniper whose rifle, like many of the game's guns, requires you to fire on the background music's downbeat for maximum effectiveness. You get a circular on-screen cue to help time your shot, and hitting it perfectly scores a one-hit kill. Support is the medic that can heal and shield other characters. And the Tank has a heat-seeking rocket launcher; after firing, tapping your mouse in time to the beat keeps the projectile on target even if they're trying to get away.

The demo for Chroma I saw showed a very early version of the game, but the ideas that it presents make it stand out from the otherwise crowded realm of me-too F2P and FPS games. It's a weird experience that takes some getting used to, but just like a song, it sounds strange the first time you hear it but becomes more and more familiar with repetition. By my third match I felt like I was getting the hang of extending my jumps and dashing by timing my movements to the background music. And zipping around the map by jumping on pads that keep you moving as long as you keep tapping in time to the beat was almost as much fun as trying to shoot other players.

As a free-to-play game, Harmonix is quick to add that the game won't be "pay-to-win." While the pricing of items hasn't been decided yet, the items you can purchase will be purely cosmetic.

The game is going into alpha this month with a public beta sometime later this year, and like with many F2P games, there's a good chance it won't lose the "beta" moniker for a while. But if you'd like to get in early and help fix the game, you can apply to get in early at the game's website.

And just in case you're wondering, the game will not support a guitar controller. While Harmonix doesn't rule out the possibility that somebody will create a mod sometime down the line, given the fast-paced arena combat, it's not a feature they're woking on incorporating at launch.

Discussion

42 comments
x_hunter00
x_hunter00

Does everybody hear the same music or can you customize your music playlist. I want to beat people while listening to Selena Gomez! ;D

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Hannah Montana FPS?????????? Nuooo...

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

So many COLORS!


A welcome sight in this age of brown.

expeditopaz2008
expeditopaz2008

Musical shooter? Does Anyone remember Child of Eden?

Oloryn
Oloryn

Looks intriguing, and with the good kind of F2P business model (purely cosmetic) I'll definitely show support by at least checking it out.

noobocalypse
noobocalypse

"While the pricing of items hasn't been decided yet, the items you can purchase will be purely cosmetic." 


I can already tell this is going to be a great F2P game.

gamerboy100
gamerboy100

This sounds really cool! I have a lot of faith in Harmonix. I enjoyed a majority of their previous games.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

Purely cosmetic store. That is the ONLY correct way to do F2P and it's been proven to work wonderfully. 

ghost59
ghost59

id rather pay nothing then to play  something for another fps.

TheThoughtless1
TheThoughtless1

Someone should make a run of the mill FPS where the main character is psychotic and hears music in his head when he's out killing people, then it could be like sound shapes with murder. Each kill would add to the beat and I think opera singers should start singing if you put together a big killstreak are are fighting a boss. 

atlink555
atlink555

I want to play a "fist"-person-shooter.  Sounds hot.


Proofreading is fun!

pyro1245
pyro1245

i prefer to pay for a complete gaming experience. Path of Exile showed that a game can be free to play without being pay to win but sadly that is the exception, not the rule.

tom2750
tom2750

i am bloody sick of hearing free to play fuck off with that shit charge a one time fee for a game and that's it and possibly charge for DLC if its a proper expansion like the last of us new single player DLC and if its just map packs charge half of what COD and battlefield etc charge for there map packs and if its just minor things like skins give them away for free

ghost59
ghost59

this is fps  changing 

LightEffect
LightEffect

This sounds really interesting, definitely going to check it out. I miss when music games were really popular.

jacquelineferre
jacquelineferre

too soon to judge but based on what they gave us the only good thing that I can say is that it's different

Daian
Daian

Can u say epic fail?

darkljolly
darkljolly

We  need more rthym + other genre mixes like this. Patapon showed this could be achieved really well.

traldera
traldera

Wow I hope the pricing model is done well because this sounds awesome

zor3333l
zor3333l

even though i don't like F2P games, i'll try this one out of respect for Harmonix

ecurl143
ecurl143

Christ, who's the art director - Stevie Fucking Wonder?

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

Gotta give these dudes credit, though.  We love to bitch about how everything is like everything else, we should applaud devs who are willing to take risks.  This may be silly, this may not work, but if gaming's going to stay vibrant we need creative people to think outside the box.  Good on ya, Harmonix.

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

As an avid Rock Band player with a lot of DLC, I'm extremely disappointed to hear this news. I am not saying this game won't be fun, but I am doubting it will be as fun as a new Rock Band 4(a genre that still has a lot of room for improvement in multiple areas) I don't want another shooter.

Duckynevada
Duckynevada

Hidden path did a great job with CS:GO so I have high hopes for this games. Especially with all the creativity Harmonics could bring to the table to a game like this. I am worried about the F2P aspect though.

gamerno66666
gamerno66666

Free to play? why is it always gotta be free to play?

robertcain
robertcain

@Sefrix  No kidding!!! Why can't all games be like Team Fortress 2, Guild Wars 2 and FPS Chroma when it comes to micro-transactions!!!

tjkraz
tjkraz

@MaddenBowler10  I hear you, but I'm not sure there are enough RB fans left to really support the genre.  Sales of RB3 and the last Guitar Hero were down tremendously.  Rocksmith is floundering.  Harmonix couldn't even justify continued DLC support.  


I'm hoping Harmonix will attempt RB4 in a couple years after XB1 and PS4 have greater install bases.  But I'm just not sure that the general public will ever embrace $200 plastic instrument purchases again.  That may be a fad whose time has come and gone.  

eelektrik
eelektrik

@Duckynevada  I never played CS:GO but I did play Defense Grid, granted it wasn't a shooter but if Chroma has the same level of polish it will certainly be something to look forward to. This sounds really unique in terms of FPS mechanics and I can't wait to try it.


Free to play shouldn't be something to worry about, but unfortunately some developers/publishers don't get the free to play model right. There are some good examples out there of F2P done well such as Path of Exile and Loadout.

Zidaneski
Zidaneski

@tjkraz @MaddenBowler10  I sunk a lot of money into RB. It was great while it lasted but things change and tons of plastic instruments eventually became a burden.