Hands on with Disintegration’s multiplayer: Flying vehicular combat from one of the minds behind Halo
Disintegration is the genre blending shooter from V1 Interactive, spearheaded by one of the creator’s of Halo: Combat Evolved. If that isn’t enough to entice you, maybe this is; Disintegration blends the first-person shooter, car combat, strategy and even MOBA genres to create something totally new and unique. I had the chance to go hands on with Disintegration during two of the recent technical tests and ended up sinking several hours into the game while streaming it on Theta.TV. With that said, I’m happy to report that this isn’t just a new game carried by the clout of the past; It really is an intriguing new mix of genres that feels as satisfying to play as it does promising in concept.
At it’s core, Disintegration is a first-person shooter that puts players in the driver’s seat of a gravity cycle, referred to as a grav cycle from here on out. Instead of sprinting around the map and firing assault rifles, players have an assortment of grav cycles to choose from, each packing unique abilities and weapons. Along with your teammates, you are tasked with completing objectives in competition against an opposing team, with head to head player versus player combat taking center stage. In addition to the assortment of weapons and abilities at your disposal is a platoon of ground units which will need to utilized for maximum combat efficiency. If you’re like me, you probably worry that controlling your vehicle and managing ground units might be overwhelming or confusing but the good news is that it isn’t.
While I hate to admit it, I’ve become a very impatient gamer. If a game doesn’t hook me during my first play session, it is highly likely that I will move on and never look back. I don’t usually have the patience to play turn-based games or even open world games anymore. They just feel too slow to me. The same can be said for games with any sort of sincere management going on. I don’t want to waste a ton of time managing my inventory or fiddling with “units” when I could be doing something epic and bombastic. Knowing this, I was naturally scared that Disintegration was going to be bogged down by having to manage your units on the ground but V1 has made it so simple and intuitive that not only does it come with ease but it’s actually satisfying to execute. Controlling your ground units is as simple as right clicking your mouse. All you need to do is get yourself to remember to order them around while you’re buzzing about and firing your weapons.
So now that we’ve gone over the core mechanics of Disintegration, let’s talk about how matches of the game actually transpire. At the beginning of each match you are asked to select a grav cycle/character. It’s clear from the menu itself that V1 has put time and thought into crafting unique characters ranging from a Cyberpunk biker, a medieval knight and even a poser trying to be Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal. While the characters don’t have in-game “personality” yet, they definitely have their own cosmetic vibe, sets of weapons and abilities that match their look. The clown character shoots sticky grenades, relying on a chaotic cat and mouse play style, for example. I personally had a lot of luck with The Business who sports chain guns and a limited use shotgun ability. I would burn my enemies down with the chain guns and then boost in for the close ranged finish. Other classes sport more support like abilities such as heals and slowing attacks. By reading over the class abilities alone you can tell that Disintegration has potential for coordinated team strategies and attacks within it’s 5v5 multiplayer structure. When you are first getting into the game however, just pick whichever character best suits your play style and go.
As of now, Disintegration has a few different game modes. I personally found the Zone Control mode to be the most intuitive because we’ve all played it in virtually every multiplayer game ever released. There are three zones on the map and its your job to hold a majority of them for longer than your opponents. In order to accomplish this, not only do you have to fight off enemy grav cycles but in order to take the zones you have to order your units into the objective. That means that your units can be ordered to skirmish enemy ground units or you can direct them to attack enemy grav cycles which is surprisingly effective. While this may sound like a lot at first, I never felt overwhelmed or lost in a battle. Ordering your units around is as simple as a click or two and they do the rest. If they fall in combat, you simply have to swoop down and pick up their “brain canister” to respawn them.
Disintegration’s other mode was more innovative and for that reason, took some getting used to. At the start of each round, one team is assigned as offense and the other on defense. It’s the offensive team’s job to get to one of two objectives devices on the map, order your units to pick it up and then escort it to a point on the map as if you’re planting a bomb. The defending team’s job is to stop you and prevent the canister from being transported to the goal. They can do this by taking out the grav cycle which is commanding the units that have picked up the objective or by targeting the ground units themselves. This leads to some strategic choices. Do you want to split up and defend both canister locations as the defending team or just pile up on the final goal location and lock it down? Do you all stay together to overwhelm the enemies that come to one location and then fall back? Do you split up evenly? There are a lot of different scenarios in this mode which is great and I give the developers at V1 a lot of credit for conceptualizing something innovative and unique to Disintegration. With that said, I personally found the basic territory type mode to be more fun but that may be because it’s familiar and thus easier to get the hang of right off the bat.
Like pretty much any game in the genre, Disintegration will be judged by the exhilaration of its combat. The grav cycle element means that the time to kill enemies is very high compared to most games and that things may feel a bit “slower.” Speaking as someone who primarily plays a lot of lightning fast shooters, I actually found this to be a good thing. I really enjoyed playing a game where the combat felt engaging but not punishing. Disintegration’s combat and gameplay loop allow you to not only land satisfying shots, but also out smart opponents by utilizing your flying abilities, the environment, ground units, etc. While I normally find myself swearing and sometimes exhausted after long play sessions with the games that I gorge myself on, I felt very relaxed playing Disintegration but still gripped by the combat and game itself which speaks well for it.
One thing that was obvious during the technical tests that I played was the need for class balancing. Some classes felt potent and dangerous while others didn’t feel like threats. It is obviously important to V1 to craft classes that fit every play style ranging from the fast paced assassin players like me, to the tank-like objective players. The development team must ensure that each class is strong enough to hold its own in combat, however. The good news is that all of the weapons and abilities feel great so balancing is as simple as tweaking damage numbers.
When all is said and done, playing Disintegration feels a bit like controlling titans in Titanfall but while hovering and ordering units around on the ground. It’s like the car combat games of the early PlayStation days but reborn with modern game design and in a futuristic setting. While I’m trying my hardest to think of comparisons that you may be familiar with, I don’t think there is anything else quite like Disintegration on the market, which is one of the best compliments that I can give it.
We don’t yet know when Disintegration will release outside of sometime in 2020 and we know just as little about the business model that it will release with. Regardless of the business side of things, Disintegration has real promise based on my time with it. If the development team can manage to inject some more personality and flair into the game, it seems entirely possible that they can attract a community. They certainly have a strong foundation and V1 has stated that they feel that the Disintegration universe is expansive enough to span more than just one game or even genre. For anyone who is considering investing in Disintegration, that is welcoming news. If you’re a fan of shooters and multiplayer action but you’re looking for a change of pace, keep an eye on this one. Even in this early stage, it’s already putting itself on the map.
Disintegration will feature a full fledged single-player campaign, but it was not available in the Technical Test.