Disintegration Technical Beta First Impressions
I’ll admit it, first-person shooters are not my preferred gaming genre. I enjoy them well enough, but they rarely stick with me for long. Especially as they’ve become more and more competitive multiplayer focused, veering away from my preferred single-player playstyle. I’m just more a strategy/RPG guy at heart, which is not a genre that traditionally mixes well with shooters. Knowing that, I went into the Disintegration technical beta with a whole lot of skepticism, as on the outside it looked and sounded generic FPS at best with a few random strategy elements bolted on. After playing a bunch of the beta however, and in spite a few issues, I was happy to find out that couldn’t be further from the case.
You play as the pilot of a vehicle called a Grav-Cycle, and are in command of a small unit that moves on the ground while you fly above. Battle is a hectic thing where you have to keep track of both your own movement and battles, as well as that of your soldiers. You do have to keep careful track of them too, because your unit is the key to winning the game. They are the ones responsible for completing all objectives, from capturing zones to acquiring payloads. You are essentially a drone security detail, which is a lot more fun than it sounds. It’s strange playing a shooter where you, as the protagonist, are the least important piece on the board. However, it’s a form of strange I greatly enjoyed.
You don’t have the most precise controls over your unit, but during a firefight, it’s more than enough. You can command your troops to move somewhere, to priority target something, or to capture/collect an objective. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re also engaging in your own fight against enemy Grav-Cycles and their crews, it’s just barely enough to be able to keep track of. Each of your three units has a special ability, from a grenade to a mortar strike and beyond, which are launched on a button press and a AOE target select. The whole system has a very MMO pet-caster feel, which you’ll either love or hate.
It’s not perfect though. The Grav-Cycle is pretty maneuverable, and as far as vehicle controls go, it’s not the worst. Still, it feels pretty sluggish in tight environments and could use an overall speed boost. Also, the artificial height of the maps feels way too low. It doesn’t feel like flying so much as very high hovering, which doesn’t feel quite right. Grav-Cycles as a whole deal very little damage to other Grav-Cycles, whereas getting too close to a ground crew will see your health melted. I personally enjoyed this part, as it really emphasized how important the ground crew is, and enforced your role as protector and commander. Still, for others, it does really feel counter-intuitive to play an FPS where you shoot nerf darts at other players. There was the usual round of bugs and connectivity issues as well, but for a Technical Beta it wasn’t that bad. Nothing game breaking, that’s for sure.
All that was playable for the duration of the Disintegration technical beta was two out of the three multiplayer modes that will launch with the full game. Retrieval, which requires collecting and delivering a payload while the other team defends, and Zone Control, which is self-explanatory. Instead of playing as a custom character, you play as one of seven (at least in the Beta, there will be more at launch) different crews. Each crew has its own unique Grav-Cycle and ground crew make-up. Every unit has its own special ability and every Grav-Cycle comes with its own alt-fire. They are each tuned to fulfill a specific role in battle, and the only customization options are cosmetic.
Personally I really enjoyed what I played of the Disintegration technical beta, and see a lot of potential for the full game. However, I do wonder if it will be able to find any kind of mainstream appeal or success. Not a knock on the game for sure, it’s a unique idea that is implemented well enough, even if a few tune-ups could be used. I just feel that there’s a lot going on at once, and it can take a while to get used to it. Which is generally not what a player does, the games that succeed are the ones that are easy to catch-on to and reveal their depth as you play. I feel that ultimately this game’s success hinges on its single-player offering and how well it conveys skills applicable to the multiplayer side. I hope it does well for sure, it was nice actually being decent at a competitive multiplayer shooter for once.