When I sat down at the presentation from Disintegration at Gamescom I was highly surprised about the ambitious ideas from V1 Interactive’s debut game. With Marcus Lehto leading this studio the entire marketing was built around a game from the co-creator of Master Chief. Bringing out a game for the first time as a new studio is a tremendous task, especially in Disintegration’s case as they wanted to create a shooter with mixing ingredients from other genres. The end result is a delicious potato gratin where unfortunately the creamy cheese sauce has curdled, it is still good but it could have been better. So let’s take a look at what went great and wrong!
What we liked!
- My first concern wasn’t an issue, controls! My biggest concern was how they were going to handle the controls. Hovering your cycle while dodging enemy fire and ordering your squadmates what to do is surprisingly smooth, there is a small learning curve but nothing you won’t be able to handle. Time slows down a little when you want to order a squad something, in practice a combo I regularly did was using Slow Field first so enemies slowed down and immediately after concussion grenade to stun enemies. This results in a massive damage boost and thank to the slow field this stun time is increased. Ordering special attack moves is really easy, with a press of the D-pad and R1. Using squad abilities is important to successfully survive in harder difficulties, so be sure to use them correctly!
- Exceptional character design with fantastic voice work! How awesome can character design be? Well, Disintegration’s characters look “wildly-fantastic-awesome-cool” and feature high-class voice work. Making a robot visually cool isn’t that hard but giving it personality is something entirely else. This is something that this game totally nails, everyone has a distinct look and despite some shallow background stories and dull dialogue I really loved every character.
- Gameplay: Mixing RTS and a shooter is nothing world shockingly original but with Disintegration, it feels fresh and a blast to play, especially on the harder difficulties. Make no mistake, even on the standard mode you will need to have patience and use every mechanic correctly or you’ll face game over screens. I started Disintegration on the highest difficulty, Outlaw. Only 2,95% managed to finish a mission in this mode as it is really hard! I strongly recommend playing this game on hard (or Outlaw) when you decide to buy as the tactical gameplay is much more enjoyable here. Planning your attack, remembering every cooldown from squad member abilities, being aware of your surroundings, knowing when to heal your squad, knowing when to get the hell out of a situation. There is a lot going on while playing and having multiple ambushes or specific mission behaviors like a damaging wave if you aren’t standing in a shielded dome isn’t making it easier. Importantly though, V1 Interactive wanted to create something fresh and they totally delivered that.
- Visually more than okay! Not the greatest looking game on Xbox but it has more than meets the eye. For example, I love how destructive everything is. Since you are mostly far away from the action it took me an entire mission to see that many things are destructible and that they do it in a fine-looking way! Every mission looks different and while there are some noticeable issues with the draw distance but I was regularly impressed by the vistas and explosions.
- Online play: From what I played at Gamescom and I think around 8 matches when the game went live was absolutely brilliant. Engaging tactical fights and lots of options to make you stand out with customization. It has three fun modes Retrieval, Collector, and Zone Control, Retrieval was by far my favorite as you need to get close to the danger with your grav-cycle to collect the tag from your destroyed opponent. Most people play Disintegration’s online modes careful and slow as if it is some kind of shooting MOBA. That’s because not everything is about the real players, everyone has an army of four (or less, depending on class) CPU characters that can deal massive damage if you aren’t paying attention. They have put a crazy amount of crews in, from knights to ronin, from military to futuristic and much more! All with a completely different look and playstyle, playing as a faction earns you points that can be used to unlock new stuff. The rewards system is deep and rewarding and all those different playstyles are what make Disintegration online play so special and fun. Seeing all these different types of abilities and grav-cycle possibilities made me wonder why they didn’t add this in the single-player though… But hey, why is this at “somewhere between? You are really positive about the online play! Sadly, from the very first day the online modes seem completely empty, I have been waiting multiple times on different days in the hope to play it again but nobody seems to be playing it. I personally don’t get why as this is the most fun I had in a long time with an online game. I really hope that it finds an audience but I kinda fear for it.
What we disliked
- Rushed execution for an otherwise great “possible” Sci-fi story: Humans can upload their consciousness into wicked-looking robots, some kind of evil organization wants to remove all organic life. There is a heck of a lot happening in this game world but I hardly understood why stuff was happening, it is like watching The Matrix without seeing the first and second movies. Leaving you with questions who “The One” is, what the hell Nebuchadnezzar is, and why the world has a million Smiths in it. To be frank, parts of the story that I do understand was from talking with developers, not because the game explains it.
- Dumb squadmates and literally broken automatic reticle mechanic: I think something went terribly wrong when they transformed the consciousness from my squad members. Or its a side effect that the IQ significantly drops after this procedure. One thing that frustrated me was that squad member automatically followed my reticle, regardless if they were in a battle situation. You constantly have to pin squad members to a location but they won’t be engaging the enemies, so what basically happens is you start to fight but when you turn too much with your grav-cycle or you check your environment for ambush enemies your squad members start to run around like headless robot chickens. another excellent example is that they lack the intelligence to dodge landmines, these things are comically large with flashing red lights but they fail to see the danger.
- Game hub after missions: What a huge missed opportunity! I don’t think I ever saw such a big screw up with so much potential. You have these awesome characters, you have this well-crafted game world and story, you have so many cool things that could be used but with what do they fill these extremely dull game hub environments? Well, nothing really. This completely silent garage (or outdoor) place features the characters with some completely useless dialogue filler and three NPC’s that you talk to for unlocked three side-missions. These hubs feel like attending a funeral, there is no atmosphere, nothing to do that makes sense, … I’m not sure what the idea behind this structure was but whatever it is now is nothing more than dog poop on the street that you try to avoid.
I really enjoyed my time with Disintegration, you have more than 10 hours of tactical playtime with the single player and hopefully the multiplayer catches on as this is really well crafted and addictive. It had potential to be something really great but it has some odd negative mechanics that bring it down. I do hope that Disintegration is successful for V1 interactive, this studio shows a lot of promise and talent!