In 2014, Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto founded studio V1 Interactive to start making a game now known as Disintegration. Disintegration places you in the pilot’s seat of a weaponized hoverbike and allows you to command a group of AI troops in objective-based game modes.
Off the bat, it’s easy to draw comparisons to games like Titanfall which puts players in a powerful vehicle of sorts to deliver a feeling of superiority on the battlefield. Unfortunately, Disintegration doesn’t quite capture that same magic in the way that it seems to want to or should.
There’s something inherently off about Disintegration from the go and part of that stems from a lack of in-match progression. Call of Duty has killstreaks, the aforementioned Titanfall has you working to get your Titan, Battlefield even has you fighting over positions on the map to gain strategic advantages and more vehicles. Disintegration doesn’t really have anything, what you start with is what you get.
Most multiplayer shooters know players in a post-Modern Warfare 2 world desire something to really fight for. It gives you the motivation to do really well and increases the intensity and stakes of each match. Even Counter-Strike gives you in-game currency to spend to have better guns in the next round and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 lets you earn points to earn “Hero” characters like Darth Vader or a more elite stormtrooper.
It’s the feeling of being rewarded and adding variables to each and every match that keeps you going. What Disintegration is left with is are these static matches where you have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to look and feel like.
It doesn’t help that Disintegration lacks really captivating moment to moment gameplay. It doesn’t feel as frenetic, fun, or fluid as one may hope. It’s slow, sluggish, and often unsatisfying. Not to probably make another annoying comparison to Titanfall but the Titans, despite their great mass and scale, have a sense of fluidity and enjoyability. These hoverbikes really don’t offer anything like that and you’re stuck in them so it’s not varied.
Everything from the movement to the time to reload weapons (both guns and the timers on certain abilities) is borderline tortoise-like. You’re in these firefights, sometimes with multiple enemies, and it’s like you’re controlling a weaponized version of Anakin Skywalker’s scrap-heap of a podracer from The Phantom Menace.
All of the hoverbikes and their respective mini-armies that come with them have a sense of pronounced style but it actually ends up working against the game. They feel strangely out of place because you have characters wearing all kinds of different faction-based gear decked out in neon colors or ethnic armors, giving everything a sense of character. The problem is, the world itself doesn’t mesh with that.
The levels are very bleak, saturated, and have no character to match the players within it. It’s a striking contrast and nothing really compliments anything else. Part of the problem with that also comes from the fact that since you’re hovering, you’re not really interacting with the world by running through it.
You’re not moving through rooms, hallways, or whatever other traditional elements there are to a map. The maps are backdrops, they’re not there to orchestrate gameplay concepts like vantage points, stealth, or any form of meaningful flanking. It feels more like you’re playing on a painting where everything is pre-defined rather than in a world with any form of reactive elements.
This again brings back the idea of every match being static because the maps don’t even incorporate any kind of significant variables. Maybe there are better maps in the final game but given this is what they’re leading with, I’m hesitant to believe so.
Finally, one of the most really unique things about Disintegration is its blend of RTS elements with its FPS foundation. Each player has a few AI troops at their disposal with each individual soldier having some sort of key ability. Controlling these troops often felt incredibly frustrating and totally disrupted the gameplay, it was more of a chore than an asset.
Trying to get them to attack a specific enemy was incredibly troublesome. Your cursor doesn’t really let you lock on to moving targets so you often just end up commanding your troops to move instead of attack. You also heavily rely on them when playing offense in objective-based modes. As far as I could tell, the AI are the only way to capture your objective. You as a player must command them to take the objective and carry it to the designated point.
I once hovered at the objective and kept clicking the command button to signal them over but they were off fighting somewhere else and took at least 40 seconds to arrive. Once they finally grabbed the objective, someone showed up and killed us… rendering that whole minute long process pretty much a waste of time.
The best way to describe it is like when you’re trying to include a small child in on some activity but you have to do everything much slower so they can keep up and enjoy it… but for you, it’s a bit tedious.
After playing the beta, Disintegration feels like a lot of interesting ideas that can work but don’t due to either lackluster execution or not being fully developed. There are a lot of things that can be easily refined to vastly improve the gameplay such as the speed of the action but it may not be enough to truly make the multiplayer a standout competitor in the shooter space.