During Gamescom’s Opening Night Live, Private Division delivered on a promise to pull the curtain back on V1 Interactive’s new shooter called Disintegration. The unconventional first-person shooter is spearheaded by former Halo developers, including the man credited as a co-creator of Master Chief himself, Marcus Lehto. At an early glance, the immediate influence is clear, it appears to be another standard sci-fi power fantasy with pretty looks.
Looking a little deeper and having learned more about the game’s premise and core concepts when speaking with the developers, there’s a lot more to Disintegration than meets the eye. The game’s story is set in a far out future and humans have begun a process called ‘integration’ which sees their brain matter installed into robotic armaments. Its themes are trans humanist, though Disintegration promises to tell a very personal and human tale of hope and survival, another common thread shared with Halo.
Disintegration plays nothing like a standard shooter.
While Halo reinvented the boots on the ground first-person shooter back with the launch of the original Xbox, Disintegration marches to the beat of his own drum. Ground combat isn’t really Roamer’s forte, as a Gravcycle pilot you’ll command your on-foot cavalry while exercising lite-strategy tactics. Because there’s a lot going on, Disintegration doesn’t exactly give you the option to micromanage each of the troops. Instead they all comply in unison, whether it be to move up or to pepper a designated target. The game is already an overwhelming one and takes some time to process, so as a design choice it’s wise to keep it simple for now, at least.
The game’s narrative and campaign appear to be entrenched in this bleak world, whereas the game’s multiplayer mode on show takes a much lighter approach. Without sacrificing the game’s unique core concepts, the competitive mode has a class system in place, like an Overwatch or an Apex Legends, that pushes both teamwork and synergy as key focal points.
Once I worked out combining the game’s controls with its expectations of me to do the team thing was probably going to overwhelm me in an all-too-brief play session, I quickly found my place among a group of neon-slicked cyberpunks. As a healer, I contributed to my team at range, dealing dot damage with a likely-to-be-nerfed sniper rifle while sending out healing orbs that home to your friendlies once locked on. I felt safe, and most importantly I felt I contributed. The 5v5 game mode we got hands-on with was a rather simple tweak on the traditional capture the flag rules. Instead of a flag, it’s a bomb. And instead of returning it home, your goal is to march it straight into enemy territory and deliver it to a launchpad.
After many drawn rounds as we each got used to the offense and defense tactics, we played out an epic deciding round.
On defense, we held the launchpad in the dying seconds, dropped the bomb carrier right on the event horizon of the end zone. It detonated shortly after, returning it to its pick-up point, it was at this point the opposition created a wall and guarded their carrier’s approach. With healers at the rear and tanks on the front line, we succumbed in a brutal final onslaught. It was tense but everyone in the room was having a blast.
Disintegration isn’t traditional and as such, it’s not easy to learn right away. Once the muscle memory clicks for controlling your hover height, instructing your ground troops while playing your role for the team, the game becomes a lot of fun.
Disintegration releases in 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.