Release date: 16 June 2020
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Private Division
Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
- Compelling characters
- Great voice work
- Shallow strategising
- Uninteresting combat
- Bothersome objectives
A blend of real-time strategy and shooting that ironically doesn’t require a clever strategy and lacks the excitement of shooters, Disintegration unfortunately doesn’t feel well put together at all.
While the idea of riding into battles on hoverbike-like Gravcycles sounds exciting, you’ll be quickly disappointed with these slow-moving bikes. The world is split into two factions at war — Natural and Integrated. The storytelling is thin and convoluted. And the campaigns are boring just as they are bothersome. Even multiplayer gameplay fails to add to the excitement.
You are Romer Shoal, a former Gravcycle pro and show host who is an Integrated. Along with other Integrated outlaws, they resist the Rayonne’s plans to ‘integrate’ Naturals, and escape from the Cloud, a floating base commanded by Rayonne, and led by Lt. Col. Black Shuck.
Not only is the game delivered in brief cutscenes filled with one-sided conversations that are lacking in substance, the bulk of it also falls flat due to the lack of music. That said, Disintegration does at least have some compelling characters that make it slightly more bearable.
Romer is witty and the dynamics with his Outlaw friends — especially their leader, Waggoner — are one to watch. And this was also brought out, all thanks to its stellar voice acting. Unfortunately, you don’t spend much time with them, and in any case, you’ll come to realise that any goodwill you have towards the game will be overshadowed by its lacklustre combats that are slow and reductive.
Missions that miss the mark
You’ll find yourself on missions that come with locked loadouts for your Gravcycle and squad. You’ll have zero to four units at a time under your charge. And your Gravcycle will have two weapons or gadgets. But, you won’t be able to customise any of these. What you can do is upgrade basic stats and slap upgrade chips onto preset options.
That said, you’ll have more abilities in the multiplayer mode, and only four in the missions; all of which are some form of AoE (Area of Effect). You’ll have one that stuns, another that slows, as well as two others that inflict medium and big damage. In all honesty, Disintegration hardly requires any strategy. It’s purely reactive. And it’s a game that doesn’t take enemy or terrain differences into account. There are no meaningful defensive or proactive abilities. No buffs or debuffs. No ambush options, traps or diversions. It’s all AoE attacks. And, you also won’t be able to have individual control over your units. What this means is your low-health sniper and high-health tankers will act as one. What you can do is move your squad to a specific area or have them wait at a specific location, and attack the same enemy until it dies. Or they could act as they see fit. Not to mention that the small command radius only means that your troops will follow you if you move too far away. Which honestly isn’t very far.
A small delay is also expected after your command has been given, which allows your enemy group to split up, rendering your AoE useless. It’s not only unexciting, it’s unreliable. Moreover your troops can revive infinitely, and only take 10 seconds to do so. Which means their deaths are essentially the least of your concerns. And if you want your squad to open containers and retrieve items, be prepared to watch them pry boxes open for minutes.
A grave mistake
Disintegration is a little like Sanctum and Starhawk. You’ll find yourself being an active participant in a normally passive strategy game type. You command your squad. You shoot enemies yourself. And you race around the battlefield on a hover bike with twin guns. Sounds fun, but in reality it isn’t. Because you’ll find yourself crawling on your Gravcycle with no way to upgrade its speed. And the boost function doesn’t do much to help either. It might be faster running off by yourself to evade enemy projectiles. Your weapons on the hoverbike are equally underwhelming besides your marksman rifle. And your only true boss fight will be an unexciting spraying match with another Gravcycle rider.
More players. (Slightly) Less boring.
Fortunately, things get a little more exciting in its multiplayer mode, which include three 5v5 modes based on existing modes: Retrieval (Capture the Flag), Collector (Kill Confirmed), as well as Zone Control (King of the Hill). And while there are also more guns and squad abilities in multiplayer, they don’t add much excitement to combat. That said, you can change your helmet and your Gravcycle’s colour if customisation floats your boat. Yet, even in multiplayer, gameplay is unreliable and slow. Maps are so small you’ll find yourself constantly either bumping into other Gravcycles, or even the walls. While it’s better than Campaign mode, it unfortunately is still a mess. Overall, the game lacks the depth strategy fans would be looking out for, and the excitement for those who are big on shooters.