This week we got our first look at the beta for the latest offering brought to us by the creators of the original Halo: Combat Evolved. The team at V1 Interactive is full of industry veterans looking to do something different and wow, they have absolutely crushed that goal with Disintegration.
A genre-bender I would describe as a “First Person Real Time Sci-Fi Strategy Shooter”, Disintegration puts you in the driver’s seat as the leader of a small group of rangers while also fending off enemy pilots and their teams. You are driving and shooting with your vehicle while also commanding a NPCs on the ground. It’s a frantic time learning, but my first look at the beta was a blast and left me extremely interested in what’s to come
Unique But Familiar
The Disintegration Beta was a small glimpse at what we can expect from the full game. Only two modes were tested and only a single map from each mode was playable. In one mode, players had to pick up bombs and transport them to an enemy base. One team attacking, one team defending. After a set amount of time, teams would flip and start over. Unfortunately, some of my games in this mode ended lopsided due to matchmaking issues, but when things went right, they went very right.
The other mode was a much more simple Control-style mode where three zones had to be captured and held to gain points towards the win. The junkyard style map had a pretty cool look to it and lead to some really great games of cat and mouse dodging through the piles of trash and crushed old vehicles.
Both of these modes were fun, but hectic. No one knows how to play this game. Usually when you pick up a new shooter, getting a feel for the controls is pretty straight forward. Thankfully developers have always done us the favor of putting ADS on the left trigger, crouch on the far right button, etc… But what happens when you have to pilot a vehicle that none of us have ever seen before? Trying to learn and master these new controls made for some very interesting bloopers during my hours with the beta.
No One Knows How To Fly Gravcycles
Once you get a hold of the controls, however, the strategy starts to appear. The push and pull of battle is significantly more focused on the small NPC fighters than you would expect. You control a group of three fighters each with unique abilities and aggressive AI. If an enemy gets too close, your squad WILL attack. As the leader, you have to control that squad, telling them when to push forward, when to be conservative and how to use each of their different abilities at the right time.
Players also have to manage the health and life of their NPCs fairly closely. Some classes of rangers can self-heal but others cannot. If one of your squad dies, they are gone for a significant amount of time. One way to subvert this is to swoop in and pick up their “brain can” at the spot of their death. A risky move that almost always puts you out of position, but gets your squad member back in the fight much faster.
Squad customizability was also present to a degree. Once in a match, players can choose from a range of different types of squads all with different stats and ability mixtures. Some slow and powerful, others more focused on speed and agility. The different aesthetics are all very unique and each comes with its own set of skins and colors that can be adjusted in the menus. Once the game has gone gold, addition of new squads could potentially be a focus for future DLCs.
From a technical perspective, the game actually held up pretty well. I played on the Xbox One X and didn’t have very many issues with glitches or frame drops at all. The resolution dropped a small number of times, but I’d much prefer that to any sort of skips. Only once did my Gravcycle teleport to ground-level from altitude and thankfully I wasn’t in combat at the time.
Other than that, the game ran pleasantly smooth. Flight felt great, albeit slightly slower than I would like. The maps weren’t enormous so maybe this is a balancing act between game performance, Gravcycle speed, and how difficult it would be to control a fast-moving speeder in three dimensional space.
My first impressions of the Disintegration beta were overall very positive. I’m excited to see a more complete version of the game, but that wasn’t really the point of this test. There’s going to be so much more to experience from the final game. New maps, different modes, and an entire single player campaign will all be present at launch. Normally I like to hit the campaign before I jump into the campaign so I don’t feel like a total rookie, but today, everyone felt like they were on an equal (helpless) playing field.