Hovering Towards The Finish Line
When you hear a new sci-fi shooter is coming out and is being made by some of the co-creators of Halo, you definitely take notice. Obviously, those people know a little something. With that said, the reveal of the game had us a little wary going into it, wondering if there's enough there to make Disintegration stand out. After being able to play about 20 minutes of it, Disintegration is something I am going to keep a close eye on.
We only had a chance to check out the multiplayer, and only one mode of it. V1 Interactive told us that there will be a singleplayer campaign to go through, they just aren't showing it off as of yet. The mode we played was a capture the flag type, where each team of 5 had to either be defending a point—where the flags, or "cores," in this place are taken—or grabbing a core and running it to that point. In this map, there were two cores, and you could have both active at once. One of the twists here is that after a certain amount of time active, the cores will explode, killing anyone nearby—friend or foe.
As for the teams, they were made up of five teams themselves, for lack of a better word. The main character you control sits atop a Gravcycle, the ship you see in the trailer. In addition to that, you'll have three units you control, reminiscent of how you would in Mass Effect, albeit simpler. The makeup of those people you control varies from team to team. Each seems to have a bigger unit that serves as damage soaker, and the other two can be basically anything. They are all themed around your main character's playstyle, however. Each team to choose from is very different. Just by the different speeds and weapons they use, they have a lot of variety. They also have unique abilities, too.
For example, I was playing as a team based around knights, so my weapon was something like a crossbow that I could charge. The more I charged, the further it went, and it of course had an obvious drop on the projectile. If I hit something, it slowed them down. In a capture the flag type map, that's pretty huge of course. I also had a ball I could shoot out that would heal allies in an area. My team was a lot slower but could take more damage, described to me as a tank support kind of class. Each of the units I had with me had their own abilities as well. For me, the main tank guy had rockets he would shoot out that would damage enemies in an area, and the other two units both had some mines they would throw out, also damaging enemies in an area.
Controlling units was pretty simple as well. They either followed your main character on the Gravcycle around, or you could point them to specific spots on the ground and have them either run to or interact with it, such as one of the cores. Other than that, their abilities were just bound to a button and you simply pointed where you wanted to use them. Whichever unit was using that ability would run to where they needed and use the ability.
All of the controllable units were on the ground, while the Gravcycle with your main character could fly anywhere really. Getting a handle on the verticality of that movement took some time to get used to, as while you can fly around, the bulk of the work is being done by your units. If anything the main character you played, depending on the class you chose, seemed more to support them than anything. The map we played had plenty of stuff we had to duck through and move around as well. You couldn't simply fly way up on the air and work it like some sort of general from the back lines.
Having three units to control in addition to the main character added so much more to the match than I would have thought. With teams of 5 on5, that meant it was 20 units vs 20 units, each person controlling 4. That definitely made the fights a whole lot bigger. It definitely reminded me of something like Titanfall, with the various NPC characters running around as well. In a similar way, the smaller units players' control serve as a way to give them a sense of success, even if they didn't kill a player character. They were some fodder to give you some progress. It was almost like the creeps that come along in waves in a MOBA.
In a similar vein, having your units you control killed off wasn't that big of a deal. It definitely made you far less useful, but you're not sent back to spawn as you wait for the units to come back. So you could "lose" or "die" without being taken out of the action. They definitely kept Disintegration more engaging and a constant source of conflict than they it would have without them.
They also made Disintegration a more tactical game than most FPSs out there as well. Because you have other units to contend with, while controlling your own, you have to think about placement and where they are differently. You can also use them as a distraction if you want. Plus, it seems that those units are the ones you'll need to interact with objectives in a match too, as it was only the tanky unit that could pick up the core. So if you think you'll get by in Disintegration just by shooting up people, I imagine you'll hit your limit pretty quick. Engaging with how to properly use units, when and where, is where the higher skill ceilings will be I imagine.
I left greatly surprised by what Disintegration has to offer and wanting to play more. It was only twenty minutes and just one game mode, so there's a whole lot more to learn about Disintegration before it releases. The first impressions, however, were great. The addition of those units to control is a great shakeup on the standard FPS gameplay, offering some more real-time tactics to engage with.
Disintegration is set to release next year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.