Disintegration technical beta review – shooting for something new

Disintegration – something for the weekend (pic: Private Division)

The new multiplayer shooter from the co-creator of Halo has an open beta this weekend and GameCentral has already played it.

Disintegration is a sci-fi shooter, hailing from one of the co-creators of Halo no less, but that only tells part of the story. The game pulls together seemingly disparate real-time strategy and MOBA elements and melds them together with first person combat to create something wholly unique – but not without its foibles.

In truth, we don’t know a great deal about Disintegration’s narrative setup or campaign yet, but we do know that multiplayer supports two teams of five players across three modes – two of which are playable in the technical beta.

Playing as a GravCycle pilot, you don’t fight on foot but from behind the controls of your anti-gravity vehicle. You’re able to fly around both urban and more rural maps with ease, with the left shoulder buttons adjusting altitude – although you can never fly too high. Pilots are able to engage enemies directly with the GravCycle’s own weapons but also dispatch up to three computer-controlled ground units.

In practice, this means a lot of dodging incoming fire in the air while trying to assign targets and waypoints for your ground units (your crew), and it often feels a little like playing chess on the same board as chequers, or patting your head while rubbing your belly.

Give it time, though, and it soon clicks; having your GravCycle bobbing and weaving through densely packed cities, firing on enemies and their own crews and scoring points in the process is a lot of fun. In fact, much of Disintegration feels like a natural continuation of Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2’s Strike Force missions, only with much more enjoyable combat.

It’s not all pointing at an enemy unit and either shooting them yourself or hitting the ‘go’ button for your crew to do it for you. Each of your three units (activated by separate D-pad commands) offers their own tactical abilities, which work on a quick recharge and are well worth experimenting with.

The earliest one introduced (in the game’s sizeable ‘Metal Gear Solid VR Missions’ style tutorial) is a concussion grenade that does considerable damage to an area, making it ideal against multiple troops. Triggering these effects occurs in real-time, analogous to something like Full Spectrum Warrior’s grenade launcher – you aim the unit’s grenade and choose when and where to throw it.

The GravCycle itself is also open to customisation, with the crews acting as class types and a bit of extra personalisation. One GravCycle’s primary weapon might be a slow charging but powerful cannon shot, while another is rapid fire machineguns that seemed to need reloading a little too often. These classes are also varied in terms of visuals, with one looking close to something from Mad Max while another has a medieval aesthetic.

Crews can be switched after each death, and each offers their own support units – including the likes of mech suits. We’d have loved to be able to pilot them ourselves but watching them flank an opposing GravCycle and send it tumbling from the sky will have to do for now.

Disintegration – this can get a little hectic (pic: Private Division)

With three lanes of engagement and a central goal, as well as ‘minions’ that take time to respawn, there’s definitely some semblance of MOBA close to Disintegration’s heart – especially on one of the two featured modes, Retrieval.

This mode takes place over two rounds, with teams taking it in turn to attack and defend two ‘cores’ that need to be deposited in an opposing base. The other mode is called Control and is the standard territory defending we’ve seen from countless other titles, but it does feel fresh with the improved manoeuvrability of the GravCycles allowing you to bob and weave between buildings to capture multiple zones at once.

While this is just a technical test, there’s plenty for V1 to learn from in terms of gameplay as well. For one, the game’s framerate drops to a crawl when there are multiple units clashing at once, and it can be tough to fire the aforementioned slow-charging cannon when the game stutters. Hopefully that won’t be a problem in the final game though, or maybe they can even get it fixed before the open beta set to run on Friday, 31 January and Saturday, 1 February. More details are available at the official website.

Whether Disintegration is going to become the next big multiplayer hit or not is still hard to tell at this stage but at the very least it’s something different and that’s always worth supporting – even if it’s only in the sense of giving a free demo a try.

Formats: PlayStation (previewed), Xbox One, and PC
Publisher: Private Division
Developer: V1 Interactive
Release Date: 2020

By Lloyd Coombes

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