Disintegration Review — Something Worth Salvaging
Disintegration falls short due to a generic campaign despite having some of my favorite multiplayer gameplay in recent memory.
Disintegration is the latest project from Marcus Lehto, creative director of Halo: Reach, since leaving Bungie. In creating his own studio with V1 Interactive, there were some relatively high expectations with him being one of the creators of the iconic Halo franchise.
Despite past successes, however, Disintegration falls flat with a disjointed and bland narrative, stereotypical character personalities, and repetitive mission structures. Thankfully, it is partly saved because of its incredibly polished gameplay and engagingly addictive multiplayer.
Taking place on Earth, Disintegration focuses on a world where humans discover how to implement their brains into robot bodies in a process known as integrating. You play as Romer Shoal, a Gravcycle pilot and celebrity who looks to take on a group of integrated known as the Rayonne which are trying to take control of the Earth.
As an attempt to stand out from other first-person shooters, Disintegration puts real-time strategy elements into the mix of things. Not only do you pilot your Gravcycle, but you also control your units on the ground leading to some tactical gameplay. It is a simplistic system at a base level, but it has so much potential available depending on how well it is executed. Based on your choices, either you or your units can die in an instant if you’re not careful. Along with your Gravcycle is a scan mode showing off important things of interest whether it be salvage caches to open or objectives to interact with. While a really cool feature, there isn’t a lot of variety in what you find throughout your missions.
Each mission has a main objective to accomplish, but most of the time, these ended up being tedious tasks like destroying a generator or disabling a jamming tower. When they were different, like with escorting a payload, they were somehow less fun. There is even a level where you have to find your crew members after your planned mission goes awry and that’s it. I just found myself continuously doing things that I don’t want to do in an action campaign.
Between each mission, you are taken to a home base which changes as you progress through the story. Here you can talk to your crew, obtain challenges, and install upgrades. The campaign has a system where you level up based on how much salvage you obtain throughout the story which can either be done through searching caches as well as completing challenges. Unfortunately, challenges are poorly implemented as most of them are completable by naturally playing through a mission and your reward is only more salvage and upgrade chips. By that point, it would have been better to just remove challenges altogether and make salvage more attainable throughout each level.
When it comes to the narrative, it begins in a very polarized way where our hero Romer is already captured by Black Shuck, one of the leaders of the Rayonne, and it takes off from there. Romer is the leader of these “outlaws,” those integrated who rebel against the Rayonne. Knowing that Romer is a well-known pilot, the story is rather inconsistent at the beginning as to whether or not he and his teammates know what they’re doing as a crew. Characters have their distinct personalities, though they are stereotypical. The dialogue can also be incredibly corny at times to the point where I found myself laughing at it for all the wrong reasons.
The story begins by giving the idea that the goal of the outlaws is to find a way to disintegrate and become human again, but it is a concept that is never really explained in detail. It is a plot thread that is presented early on to later never be brought up again. This is a common reoccurrence throughout the campaign as different topics of interest are discussed to later be thrown away in addition to characters who depart for an unearned reason that may set up for a sequel.
Despite the many issues I have with the campaign, Disintegration boasts ones of my favorite first-person shooter multiplayer modes in recent years. As of now, there are three different game modes including Zone Control, Collector, and Retrieval. Regardless of which mode you play, there are nine different “crews” you can choose from equipped with different weapons and abilities requiring a mix of power, defense, and support to bring your team to victory. Each crew has a variety of different color schemes and attachments to customize as you see fit. You unlock these customizations through an in-game currency that you earn just by playing but can also purchased via microtransactions if you don’t want to put the work in.
Zone Control is your traditional Domination game mode where teams try to capture three different points on the map. The first that hits the goal amount of points wins. Collector is similar to Kill Confirmed from the Call of Duty franchise except there is a small difference between the two. Destroying enemy units will allow you to pick up tags that are worth one point while pilots give your team three points. These modes are fun even though they are more straightforward, but Retrieval is where both the multiplayer and gameplay truly shine.
Retrieval is the only mode where there is one team on offense while the other is on defense. Placing two cores at neutral spots on the map, the offensive team must retrieve the core and get it to the defense’s side of the map. This mode, more than any other, really showed the necessity of communication between teammates to succeed. Having to call out situations and stop the enemy from scoring led our team to cheers and celebration.
Putting my feelings of the campaign aside, Disintegration has such a fun multiplayer experience that I see myself returning to it and making it one of the few multiplayer games that I will have in my rotation. It has huge potential to grow and expand with new maps, crews, and modes to play. Disintegration had a big opportunity to bring something new and fresh, and at least for the gameplay, I think it did. While the campaign isn’t terrible, it was the major aspect I was hoping that would deliver. Instead, it disappointed in a lot of critical points that I hope V1 Interactive learns from if or when they begin working on a sequel.