Disintegration Review – Totally Unique and Totally Okay
Developer: V1 Interactive
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Private Division
Genre: First Person Shooter
There are times when I wonder what first-person shooters can do to innovate the core mechanics of the genre, aside from borrowing elements from a hit game until they milk it for everything it has to offer. This is what initially stood out to me about Disintegration, V1 Interactive’s debut title from the co-creator of the Halo franchise, which seems to create its own concept within the genre.
With the inclusion of a gravity bike, players can also control a squad using real-time strategy features, blending action mechanics to a stagnant genre. But by the end of it, I felt that the execution isn’t all there, even at its most fun moments.
Disintegration is set in a far distant future, innovations in human brain preservation through robotic integration, starting to become the norm. But one day, it was used as the basis of civil war against humanity in an attempt to surpass it. This war is lead by a deadly force called Rayonne, under the command of Black Shuck. As part of the resistance, players take control of Romer Shoal and a band of outlaws as they fight to take out the Rayonne and recover their humanity.
The story of Disintegration is interesting as it tells a narrative of a powerful force under the guise of a corporation that tricked humanity into transferring their brains into humanoid weapons. However, its unfortunate thing is how well Disintegration sets up this plot only for it to become fall apart due to pacing. I’m sure you can understand the flimsy foundation as the cold open introduces the main protagonist, antagonist, setting, supporting characters, and objectives within a few short cutscenes with little to no details in between.
Those who are reasonably interested in characters beyond their first name have to play past some lengthy missions to get a sense of who the crew is and why they fight against the Rayonne, not to mention what the war even is even about. It makes watching cutscenes feel as though I was witnessing a conversation between complete strangers.
Given that this is a brand new IP, I would have expected the story to spend a bit more time fleshing out its world and characters. I was looking forward to understanding this fight, but each time I completed a mission, I felt lost during the intermissions and couldn’t seem to catch up.
Regardless, Disintegration isn’t only about the story. Surprisingly, the blending of FPS/RTS genres works out and becomes the highlight of the game. There’s a sense of independence as you create your own strategies that make the system encourage creativity during matches.
During matches, players will climb inside a Gravcycle, a weapon-mounted vehicle that makes it easy to get around the map quickly. This also makes up the first-person portions of gameplay as you are able to fire out an arsenal of weapons as you make your way to the objective. However, shooting down enemies isn’t the only thing that you need to manage. Disintegration also has players give orders to soldiers running on the ground.
This Gravcycle provides an excellent excuse to be floating above the rest of your team and allows you to strategize and give commands efficiently. Additionally, it is an exciting take on first-person gameplay as being above enemies, and the environment shifts the dynamic to using each of the game’s tools to tackle the problem instead of focusing on enemies one at a time.
While Disintegration can technically be played as a shooter, players will get the most out of it by commanding teams to use their abilities to kill or help stagger enemies. Still, this all starts with the basic commands like stay, follow, and setting priority targets, which are executed by aiming and pressing the command action. That said, there are a few thighs to get used to.
AI has some odd behavior when it comes to following positional directions. Commanding your crew to move to an empty space has them stay put in that designated spot, but they follow it so loosely that I feel the need to click the same area multiple times to rush them along or stay in a tight-knit group. This is especially noticeable when trying to get my group to huddle around a healing zone or getting them to take cover during a tense firefight. The outlaws, in particular, tend to not “sit still” when you need them to take that extra second to recover.
To be fair, Disintergation’s mechanics lean more towards an arcade-like take of the RTS genre. Instead of micro-managing tactics, AI is fast and responsive by always being in front of your view in order to immediately attack opponents I’ve marked, making for reliable commands in this offensive forward combat. Not to mention that commands are not behind menus or button combinations to further emphasize the fast-paced nature of a fight.
The other benefits of commanding a team are their abilities that players have at their disposal. Each outlaw has a different set of skills that set them apart from one another, like Coqui’s shotgun, Doyle’s missile raid, or Sequin’s Slow Field. Players have the option to use them infinitely after their cooldown periods and can combine them during different situations.
I only wish that there were more abilities other than stacking damages, like elemental or physics-based attacks, to add a new layer of challenge to encounters instead of this damage-per-second fight I had with enemies. Still, there are some RPG elements here, such as collecting savage to level up and finding upgrade chips to equip stat boosts, like faster ability recharges, more armor, or respawn time for downed comrades.
The most compelling aspect is using your AI squad as an extension of your abilities. However, seeing as the mechanics are all attack focused, there isn’t much more to do with the team. In fact, the opportunities to heal yourself and your squad are up to you as there aren’t any recovery or buffing skills for your partners to use. This is odd considering how tough the combat portions can be, where teammates can be killed easily, and retreating to take a breather can be cumbersome.
The multiplayer portion of Disintegration also leaves much to be desired. While the different crews are fun visually, they act more as loadouts as they function outside of the weapons they use. However, there are three multiplayer modes to choose, including Zone Control, a domination type mode where players take control of multiple zones on a map, and a “Capture the Flag” mode called retrieval.
The most interesting mode out of the bunch is collector, which involves gathering points in the form of “Brain Cans” by killing Gravcycle pilots’ ground units. Playing these modes felt like the standard lot that was included in most multiplayer games and had me aspire to play something more original.
Given that a 30 person team made Disintegration, it is an impressive project that proves there are still new ideas to be had in the shooter genre that doesn’t have to come from triple-A sized budgets, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to criticize.
Disintegration seemed to be in a hurry to introduce itself to the world, and this ended up hurting its campaign. The plot won’t hold your attention, but the unique gameplay mechanics of FPS and RTS systems will surely keep you invested across each map. When it works, Disintegration is a hell of a fun time. Here’s to hoping that the multiplayer mode evolves with the community.
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