Mashing up genres can be dangerous. Taking what makes a specific type of game excel and splicing it together with something else can result in catastrophe, especially when you are messing with genres as defined as first-person shooters and real-time strategy. However, V1 Interactive, a studio founded by former Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto, has decided to throw caution to the wind, creating a new title that features shooting and real-time strategy, and it's known simply as Disintegration.
Centred around a legendary, once-famed pilot named Romer Shoal, the storyline of Disintegration is set in a future, outlandish Earth where some people have transitioned into robotic bodies through a process known as integration. In this future, a group of hostiles have formed known as Rayonne, hellbent on destroying any remaining remnants of humanity using a terrifying fortress in the sky called the Iron Cloud. Disintegration follows the story of Romer, starting from a near-death experience in the Cloud, to becoming a distinguished pilot in the resistance and the leader of a capable and diverse team of outlaws.
Whilst Disintegration may have been developed by a former Halo developer, the gameplay is not as simple as running and gunning. With Romer Shoal being a pilot, the entirety of Disintegration is played on a gravcycle (a sort of Tron Lightcycle crossed with a VTOL jet), meaning you are never exactly boots on the ground, instead of more of a hands-on eye in the sky. The ironic thing is, however, if you ignore the fact that you are hovering above the battlefield, Disintegration is really just a regular shooter at its core, albeit with some fancy twists.
Unlike Halo, Disintegration combines FPS and RTS mechanics, which may seem unorthodox however it does make sense in a weird way. Piloting the gravcycle, with its weapons and movement is the shooter part, the team of skilled outlaws following your lead on the ground is the RTS part. By putting both together you can shoot things, fly around, tell your team (who will engage in combat even without your assistance for anybody who isn't a huge RTS fan) who to shoot at and where to move, all without feeling overwhelmed by a huge number of inputs.
To keep gameplay fresh, Disintegration's storyline takes place over a variety of locations from mountainous regions, to scorching deserts or the bitter wastelands of Iceland's glaciers. Furthermore, each story mission will see Romer equipped with a different pair of armaments for his gravcycle, alongside a varying crew to accompany him. The weapons themselves drastically change how you approach each mission, as the machine guns are much more effective than shotguns for ripping apart foes safely. Likewise, sometimes you will not be equipped with a healing device for yourself or your team, meaning you will have to rely on healing stations found throughout those missions.
As for the crew, since they usually act of their own accord aside from a little assistance in the healing and thinking department, the main feature that changes are abilities, which can range from concussion grenades to mortar strikes and are dependent on who's present in each mission. These abilities have long cooldowns but are incredibly useful for controlling and cutting down groups of enemies. Similar to the gravcycle's loadout, crew members cannot be chosen at the beginning of a mission, instead, they are pre-assigned meaning that sometimes you'll have Seguin and her time-slowing grenades and other times you may have Doyle and his mortars, sometimes both.
Disintegration's storyline features a variety of enemy types to chew through, ranging from weak melee robots to gigantic crab-like machines. Each type has a differing level of health and a weapon to go with, but the thing that really set them apart is how the combat is built around them. For example, there will be times where you will have to focus your efforts on dealing with floor-based enemies, who pose a huge threat to your team, however, there will also be occasions where enemy gravcycles attack alongside other airborne foes, putting a massive amount of the attention on you. By understanding and analysing these combat scenarios, with a degree of RTS knowledge, you can approach every fight methodically and complete it effectively, or alternatively blast your way through and hope you don't get taken down by the swarms of enemies.
The interesting part of Disintegration's enemy types, however, is the distinct lack of boss, or boss type encounters. There are times where you are asked to take down a gruelling enemy, such as the aforementioned crab-bots, however, these become quite common as the story progresses. I would have liked to battle more unique gravcycles with different abilities, which might have made for a slightly more engaging campaign.
Overall, considering all the various aspects of Disintegration's campaign, it's a blast, provided you can just accept what you're doing and never question why the fate of humanity is so reliant on a washed-up celebrity driving a piece of machinery that's essentially a motorbike with jet engines strapped to the side. Even though you don't exactly fight hand-in-hand with your crew, you also bond with them, which is a little surprising as its very Suicide Squadesque in how you are all just expected to work together with little to no introduction or recruitment. All in all, the storyline sets things up well for future games, and that honestly sounds pretty great.
Alongside the story, Disintegration also features a multiplayer mode, pitting two teams of five players against one another over a variety of game modes. The online itself plays very similarly to the campaign in the respect that you pilot a gravcycle and have a ground crew to give orders to. However, because the multiplayer is much more chaotic, the online has less emphasis on the RTS features and is more focussed on the shooter aspects. This doesn't mean your crew are irrelevant; they are still required for a lot of tasks such as carrying bombs or using abilities.
Currently, there are three game modes to play online: Zone Control, Collector and Retriever. Zone Control is essentially domination, a flag capture mode, where points are acquired by holding areas. Collector is kill confirmed at its core, and you take down enemy pilots and pick up the points they leave behind. Retrieval, on the other hand, is a little bit different; it is a sort of hybrid between capture the flag and demolition, in the sense that you have to pick up a bomb from an area and escort your bomb-carrying crew to a flag to score a point. The catch is, in Retrieval attackers only have a limited amount of time to score points before the sides swap and everything begins again.
All these different game modes do keep the multiplayer feeling fresh, but the thing that really changes how Disintegration's online modes differ is the 'crews'. Right now, you can choose to play one of nine bands of outlaws, from the chivalrous King's Guard to the kooky Sideshows. Each crew has its own appearance (for example the Lost Ronin have the look of Samurais), a unique gravcycle loadout, and set of crew abilities, making the way you want to play dependant on who you run. Our personal favourite is The Business, a group of gangsters equipped with rifles, a shotgun and a set of abilities designed to bring enemy gravcycles down.
Whilst the crews do have their own shtick, they can also be loosely customised to be more personal, by tweaking their colour schemes, pilot appearance and by adding unusual attachments to your gravcycle, all of which can be unlocked either through challenges or with the in-game currency.
It might seem a little much, welding FPS and RTS together, especially in an online game, but it works well, mainly because the tactical element doesn't feel overexaggerated, or to the level it is required in the single-player campaign. In fact, when you look at it as a whole, the online is more of an airborne hero shooter with a sprinkling of RTS mechanics. Each of the crews is like a different hero, offering a new style of play, and the strategy element is simply there to accommodate the ground-based combat. Essentially with this format, Disintegration shows that it can have a multiplayer future, so long as it can iron out a few of the kinks in some of its weaker weapon types (because we all know a sticky grenade launcher without automatic detonation is a little lacklustre in a fast-paced, airborne shooter with hitscan snipers and hard-hitting shotguns).
Looking at it as a whole, Disintegration is a great starting point for an interesting future franchise. The single-player, albeit a little loose in its story and character development, plays well and offers plenty of opportunities to go back and replay missions. The online modes, on the other hand, show great potential, with an interesting class system, a variety of game modes, and the right balance of two, usually conflicting genres. You can clearly feel the influence of Halo and, with a little refinement, Disintegration could grow to be outstanding. Considering this is a brand-new take, it bodes well for the future and I look forward to more.
Loading next content