Disintegration beta impressions: It shows potential, but I'm still not convinced

Disintegration Zone control
Disintegration Zone control (Image credit: Private Division)

I was cautiously optimistic when Disintegration was first announced. Being from the creative minds behind Halo is a huge benefit, and after playing the closed beta, I can't say that I'm any more optimistic, but I'm certainly no less excited, either. This isn't a finished product by any means and is only meant to serve as a technical test for developer V1 Interactive, so there's room for improvement.

Before even jumping into the two multiplayer modes offered during the beta, I checked out the seven Gravcycle crews available in the multiplayer beta: Lost Ronin, The Sideshow, King's Guard, Neon Dreams, Tech Noir, Warhedz, and The Business. I wasn't expecting them to be as wacky as they were, but I'm glad Disintegration at the very least has some personality in that regard. Some of the crews are comprised of robotic killer clowns, samurai, feudal knights, and even a team that looks like it's pulled from a futuristic version of Mad Max.

The first few matches I was dropped in admittedly felt slow and clunky. Even using the fastest Gravcycle, it still felt like I was flying around the map at a snail's pace. Only when I used a quick speed boost did it feel satisfying instead of frustrating. Shooting felt equally sluggish until I bumped up the sensitivity. Not a good first impression, but it got much better the more I played.

The key is finding a Gravcycle you love. Even though certain Gravcycles are better suited for certain situations over the others, I found myself always picking the same one no matter what mode I was in after I tested them all out. More often than not, I'd choose Neon Dreams. Disintegration stops entire teams from picking the same Gravcycle by limiting them to two of the same type during any point in a match. After you die, you're able to switch between them before respawning.

After playing the closed beta, I can't say that I'm any more optimistic, but I'm certainly no less excited.

Between Zone Capture and Retrieval, the two modes available for the beta, Disintegration doesn't offer anything new as of yet. Like I said before, it's just a technical test right now, but it would have been nice to play a mode that isn't found in every typical multiplayer game. What's there is fun enough, but nothing really engaging.

The maps weren't all that impressive, either. I found that the color palettes of the maps and some of the Gravcycles, combined with the HUD, made for a confusing screen to look at. The character that some of the crews exude just doesn't translate to the few maps available right now, which is a shame. It doesn't help when a good chunk of the screen is taken up by the sides of your Gravcycle. Yes, it adds to the immersion, but having fun matters a lot more than realism. Disintegration doesn't appear to find a good balance between the two right now.

Disintegration Retrieval

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It took me quite a few matches before I felt comfortable in my Gravcycle, commanding my own little unit. The crew you command each have their own abilities that can be used in battle, with a cooldown timer, so you aren't continually spamming them. Your ground unit can range from anywhere between ineffective to a convenient distraction — though they were the ones assigned to moving the payload, so I commend them for that. They helped take out other ground units, but when it came to knocking out another player's Gravcycle, that's where I would need to do the heavy lifting.

It does show how Disintegration requires a more tactical approach. You can't just run and gun or hope your crew can handle a situation for you. You're controlling nearly everything they do: which enemies to target, which skills to use, or when to pick up the payload. Not only do you need to worry about your crew, but you need to worry about other players' crews as well. They can easily take out yours if you aren't careful. It's almost like you're playing two games at once.

It might seem a bit chaotic, but it works in that respect, even if I wish your crew was more fleshed out. But who knows what will be added in before launch.

On the technical side of things, everything worked as it should. In the menus, I found there to be noticeable input lag, but this never transferred over into an actual match. When it came to matchmaking, I was always quick to find a match and be dropped into a game. The process generally took less than a minute tops. I also realize much of this is likely because it's a closed beta right now, and there aren't a ton of players inundating the servers. How it will fare in the open beta — or even at launch — remains to be seen.

Disintegration Neon Dreams

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I only played a few hours of the beta, so keep this in mind. It was only a small portion of what the larger game should offer, and it's nowhere near the final product. Overall, I wasn't too impressed during my time. Between adjusting the sensitivity settings, sluggish controls and slow movement, and bland environments, there wasn't enough to keep me interested right now. Still, there's potential simmering beneath the surface.

This closed beta didn't contain any levels from its story campaign, so I can't speak for how those are shaping up to be. The premise sounds cool, now V1 Interactive just needs to deliver.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.