From the basic concept point, I like Disintegration. You spend the entire game aboard essentially a floating tank that gives you a birds-eye view of the action going on around you. This perspective allows you to issue orders to a small squad of grunts on the ground while engaging in combat yourself. That idea is solid, and I appreciate how your combat hovercar adds a vertical element to first-person combat. However, Disintegration’s core gameplay idea also makes you feel removed from the action, which you are, because you are literally floating above the action. The mixture of genres equals a pretty mixed bag end result. In short, Disintegration is, at best, a mixed bag, and at its worst, it’s not very fun.
In Disintegration you play as protagonist Romer Shoal, a former Gravcycle pro and show host who’s been Integrated into a robotic body. Romer joins a band of Integrated outlaws in their escape from the Cloud, a floating base commanded by the Rayonne and led by Lt. Col. Black Shuck. The Rayonne want to exterminate or Integrate all remaining Naturals (normal humans). As Romer, you and the gang work to prevent that, and Black Shuck wants all of them dead.
Some of Disintegration’s most fun elements are in its multiplayer, where you encounter foes that maneuver around the environment like you, which provides a real challenge. Disintegration’s multiplayer maps are smaller maps, which make you feel like the action is happening much faster than it really is (more on that later). These maps also offer places to hide and make use of your verticality. The issue I ran into was Disintegration’s first-person shooting, which feels very barebones given your limited loadout. Even more challenging was controlling the strategy element of the game in multiplayer. Commanding troops in multiplayer is fairly hard. Most of the time, the troops would run into the battle and instantly die in larger firefights while I was trying to figure out how to properly position them.
The campaign was also a fairly fun experience. You command anywhere from zero to four units at a time, and your Gravcycle has two weapons or gadgets, usually a gun and a healing option. The game’s story is delivered in brief cutscenes, but Disintegration does have some fun characters. Romer is a likeable smartass, the rest of his Outlaw friends play off each other well, and their Natural leader, Waggoner, is a wise, old man. Unfortunately, you don’t spend much time with them, at most you hear them while moving towards an objective. Yet their personalities come through thanks to strong voice acting. Overall, it took me roughly 10 hours to finish the campaign.
The problem with Disintegration is that everything is a mixed bag that gets fairly old quick. Spending the entire game in the sky makes you feel like the game is barely moving. The Gravcycle has decent speed for a ground vehicle, but since you hover overhead, you barely feel like you’ve moved. Even worse, since you float above everyone else in the battlefield, you often don’t have options for taking cover when things heat up. Things very rarely get heated in battle, so most of the time you feel disconnected from the action. You also can’t command your units individually. This means that they can only act as a group, meaning your sniper and tank will run up close to the same enemy.
The other thing that misses the mark is Disintegration’s multiplayer. At release, multiplayer only features three modes: team deathmatch, king of the hill, and capture the flag. After about 2 hours, I felt like I had tried everything the multiplayer had to offer. Even worse, there doesn’t feel like there’s any point in playing the multiplayer. Disintegration’s progression system is laughably poor. You earn coins as you play, but the only thing to spend them on are new color options. Not new costumes, not new characters…a color change for your existing character. So what’s the point of playing the game online? Maybe the game feels a little faster, and yes, I can play with friends. Yet with no real reason to progress online at this time, after a short period of time, I moved on.
Ultimately, Disintegration is a mixed bag. It has fun elements and neat ideas, but it always falls short. The idea of controlling troops on the ground while flying through the air sounds fun, but the execution isn’t nearly as fun. Basically, I would only recommend this game if you get the game on sale. At $50, there aren’t nearly enough fun things in this game to make it worth it. At somewhere in the $20-$30 range, maybe it would be a little easier to recommend.
Developer: V1 Interactive
Publisher: Private Division
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: 16th June 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Disintegration was provided by the publisher.