AJ Small

It’s a safe bet that anyone who mentions Disintegration will likely mention Halo in the next sentence due to the developer’s history with that franchise, and it’s probably why people are paying attention to this game. Anyone being honest, though, will then mention that this title (at least in the closed beta) has more in common with Overwatch.

Disintegration is a first-person shooter/squad command hybrid, and in the closed beta that ran on January 28-29, I was able to play two game types: Zone Control and Retrieval.

Zone Control requires a team of 5 players to control as many points (of three available) as possible over time, and Retrieval requires people to capture a device and then fight to reach a control point. Conversely, the the defending team aims to stop them.

Disintegration has the player directly controlling a gravcycle – basically a flying hovercraft – and commanding ground units for extra firepower and abilities. Each gravcycle has its own special strengths and weaknesses. The “King’s Guard” model can generate area-of-effect healing, while the “Warhedz” cycle can fire a short-range volley of grenades, suck up a great deal of damage and wields a charged beam.

The idea here is to balance out a team, use the ground units efficiently and work together to control areas, or push forward and pressure the opponents.

My personal experience in the beta was limited by a small number of available players and a lack of communication since no one spoke. Without the ability to chat, it was hard to gauge how good certain classes worked together. However, what I can speak to are how the two Unique Selling Points™ don’t seem like winning ones.

The gravcycles themselves felt clumsy, jittery and unreliable in tight moments. Time-to-kill is quite long and I found myself wishing I had something more tactile and responsive. The units, with my limited understanding, are a fiddly distraction only useful to do things my cycle couldn’t, like picking things up in Retrieval, or something as simple as taking a bullet aimed for me. There’s potential for the tactics to become deeper and clearer, but it wasn’t present yet in this beta.

Is it good? From my beta experience, I didn’t find it to be bad, but I don’t think it’s for me, so I hope that the singleplayer campaign will offer something for those who go it alone.

Dan Weissenberger

Like AJ, I also spent some time playing Disintegration‘s recent closed beta. Unfortunately, I find myself agreeing with most of AJ’s complaints, and only differ in my response to the gravcycle combat.

Perhaps this can be attributed to my longtime love of arcade-influenced flight sims, but I found the cycles a pleasure to pilot. After making it through the well-constructed training sim, I was able to zip through the Disintegration‘s urban canyons quickly and efficiently, dodging between buildings to avoid incoming fire, and popping up broadside of enemies to quickly wipe them out. So long as I was able to focus on the ship-to-ship combat, I had a great time with Disintegration.

More’s the pity, then, that the game wants players to focus on managing the team of droids that follow them around the map like needy puppies, ordering them to complete objectives as they clash with other robots. Not only does this not work in practice, I’m not entirely clear what the idea behind it was. If the robots acted with any kind of autonomy and the player was only responsible for big picture strategizing — i.e. set them to guard, or choose which path to the target they should take — then I could see this working. However, players are asked to micromanage basically everything the robots do.

The droids need to be told where to run, which enemies to attack, and even exactly when and where to use their special attacks. Disintegration is basically asking a gravcyle pilot to also play an RTS while in the middle of a dogfight.

I could see this kind of gameplay working in a singleplayer campaign if players could press a button to slow time and enter a ‘command mode’ to issue orders before jumping back into the fray, but during a fast-paced hovership battle, this added gameplay element is nothing but a distraction and I found myself playing more effectively when I ignored my ground troops except when they were required for an objective.

There’s a strong core to Disintegration. Zipping around piles of scrap and past crumbling buildings is a pleasure, and there’s a type of hovership for every playstyle. With a little work and tuning, the devs might end up with a decently-thrilling solo adventure rather than the muddled multiplayer experience they’re currently offering.

Disclosure: GameCritics was provided closed beta codes for the purposes of this preview.

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