Disintegration PC review: An amazing concept, but the execution is rough

V1 Interactive is onto something with Disintegration, but it needs further refinement and depth.

(Image: © V1 Interactive)

Disintegration, V1 Interactive's debut title, is designed around taking the top-down camera in real-time strategy (RTS) games and making it a playable vehicle that can shoot enemy units, dogfight with other players, command allies, and more ⁠— all from the perspective found in first-person shooters (FPS).

The result is a game that uniquely blends these genres together in a way that's exciting and innovative. However, a weak campaign, a few technical issues, some frustrating design choices, and an overall lack of gameplay depth hold Disintegration back from being something truly special.

The campaign leaves much to be desired

Romer Shoal

Source: V1 Interactive (Image credit: Source: V1 Interactive)

Disintegration's story and campaign leave a lot to be desired, and that's a shame.

Disintegration takes place in a near-future world where humans integrated with armatures to survive food shortage, climate change, and other threats. The plan is to transition into normal humans once things are safe. Still, a terrorist organization called the Rayonne believes that humanity should keep their armatures and has begun taking over society to bring about their vision. You play as Romer Shoal, a pilot of a vehicle called a grav-cycle that allows you to fight enemies while also commanding your squad of allies. Your mission is to stop the Rayonne and ensure that humans can "disintegrate."

Overall, the story is mediocre. The characters are tolerable, but most of them are cliche and don't stand out. Romer himself barely has any character development, and there's a huge lack of world-building, too. This makes it incredibly hard to care about the universe Disintegration puts you in, despite how high-stakes the plot is.

From a gameplay perspective, the campaign is just okay. It does a wonderful job of introducing you to the mechanics, but the Rayonne only have a handful of enemy types, and once you figure out how to deal with them, the game begins feeling mindless. Ultimately, it's just dumb fun. Playing the campaign is an enjoyable way to turn your brain off and relax, but it's not as engaging as I was hoping it would be.

Multiplayer is where the real fun is

The best part of Disintegration is the multiplayer. Two teams of five are pitted against each other across three modes. The first is Zone Control, which tasks players with holding points around the map. Next is Collector, which requires teams to collect "brain cans" that spawn around the map and drop from killed enemies. Lastly, there's Retrieval, which is my favorite of the three. It's an attack/defense mode where one team has to pick up cores and carry them to a drop-off point while their opponent tries to stop them at all costs.

All of these modes are a good time and the main reason why is because there are so many different "crews" for players to utilize (nine in total). They each come with their own unique grav-cycle, weapons, and unit selections. This ensures that no matter what kind of player you are, there's a crew that will suit your playstyle. I've had the most success with The Militia, a crew that focuses on area denial with a tanky grav-cycle, units that deploy mines, and a deployable turret. However, I'm also having a good time with Neon Dreams, which is a crew that specializes in deadly flanking maneuvers.

Even though the multiplayer is fun, it could be so much better. Commanding your units just boils down to using abilities at a good time. You're not rewarded for putting them on high ground or in cover, for example, because attacks seem to go through slopes and most forms of cover break instantly. Because the game lacks strategic depth beyond basic positioning, timing, and picking a good team composition, the skill ceiling is pitifully low. Some of the maps have some creative flank routes, but that's about it.

Another issue is reloading, which is something you'll be doing way too much of. Weapon magazine sizes across all the grav-cycles feel way too small about how much damage you can dish out. Perhaps this was a balancing decision to emphasize unit importance, but regardless, spending a third of your time reloading is incredibly annoying.

Presentation and polish could be better


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

While it isn't bad, Disintegration's presentation isn't anything special.

Disintegration's visuals are average at best. Certain areas in the campaign look good, but by and large, the textures, lighting, and shadows look rather dated. Cutscenes, in particular, have a weird grainy appearance that makes them unappealing to watch as well. I do love the styles of each of the multiplayer crews, though; each one has a unique appearance that conveys a ton of character.

Performance-wise, Disintegration works as intended for the most part. There are a few notable issues, though. The first is texture and object pop-in, which sometimes occurs in campaign levels with long sightlines. Additionally, sometimes objectives in the campaign bug out and completing them doesn't advance the mission, forcing you to restart the entire level. When this happens, it's a massive annoyance. Lastly, in multiplayer, I noticed that some players' grav-bikes would sometimes teleport a few feet instead of moving smoothly. It's not clear if this is a server-related issue or not, but since I saw it occur to multiple players, I'm inclined to believe it is.

Should you buy Disintegration?


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

At the end of the day, Disintegration is built around a phenomenal concept, but it doesn't stick the landing in terms of execution. The multiplayer is a good time, but the gameplay's lack of depth holds it back from greatness. Pair that with a lackluster singleplayer and dated presentation, and you have a game that doesn't live up to its true potential.

If you're interested in Disintegration, I would advise waiting for a sale. The game is decently fun overall, but I don't think it's worth its near-AAA asking price at launch.

Disintegration releases publicly on June 16, 2020, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. It costs $50.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.