Each time we hear more about Disintegration, the debut title from V1 Interactive, it's always centered on the multiplayer component. Despite this fact, Disintegration started as a single-player title. After months of wondering about how the single-player campaign plays out, I finally had a chance to see it in action and learn all about the campaign.
As the debut title by a studio founded and fronted by Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto, Disintegration has lofty expectations. Originally starting as a real-time strategy game in the prototyping phase, Lehto wasn't happy with how similar the gameplay was to other RTS titles, so he and his small team began experimenting with ways to turn the typical RTS camera into an active participant in combat. The result is a unique game that combines the formulas of the first-person shooter genre Lehto helped revolutionize while at Bungie with the real-time strategy genre he was initially interested in pursuing.
The world of Disintegration takes place approximately 150 years in the future. Overpopulation, climate change, food shortages, and, yes, a global pandemic have ravaged humankind to the brink of extinction. As a means of survival, scientists develop a way for the human brain to be removed and surgically implanted into a robotic body in a process known as Integration. While this was meant to be a temporary solution while the problems are solved, a faction called the Rayonne like the new versions of themselves and don't want to go back, sparking a war with the remaining humans and the rebel Integrateds. The Rayonne began hunting down humans and essentially lobotomizing them and forcing their Integration.
You step into the role of Romer Shoal, a former pilot of Gravcycles, hovering crafts with mounted weapons, and the former host of a popular show similar to a futuristic Top Gear. At one point, Romer worked for Black Shuck, a commander of the Rayonne, repossessing Gravcycles. However, Black Shuck finds that Romer is selling these Gravcycles to the human resistance, and Romer is branded an enemy of the Rayonne. However, for Black Shuck, the betrayal is personal, and he steps into the role of primary antagonist for Disintegration.
"[Black Shuck] is one of the few in command of the Rayonne army that we call 'free thinkers,'" Lehto says. "So Romer and all his crew's original Integration was either by choice, or in the very early stages when it was highly recommended. They were left to be free thinkers to be as human as they could possibly remain. Shuck himself is that as well, even though he, along with the others in command of the Rayonne army are on this post-humanistic trajectory. So there's a juxtaposition there with him and an internal battle of holding on to who he used to be as a human because he can think for himself, but not wanting to be human anymore."
Embracing his new status as an outlaw from the Rayonne army, Romer joins up with a group of Integrated resistance fighters. He comes in possession of a Gravcycle and puts it to good use, commanding his squad from the skies above the battlefield while providing aerial support. While blasting enemies from above is essential, grasping how to command your squad is just as important. You can mark targets and objects of interest, as well as locations to converge on. You can even activate each member's special ability, ranging from mortars and concussion grenades to slow fields. Unlike multiplayer, when you use your unit abilities, time slows, giving you the strategic upper hand over your enemies.
As Romer, you can also scan objects and the environment to highlight enemies and objects of interest. While highlighting enemies to reveal information and their locations is useful, marking certain objects enables ground troops to interact with them. For example, you can scan for salvage, which serves as a currency to level up your ground units and Gravcycle, as well as upgrade chips, which can be used to progress your various characters' skill trees, as well as that of your Gravcycle. You can also mark health regen points to replenish the squad's HP.
As you go through the single-player campaign, you venture throughout various locales. Some of the locations Lehto mentions are the Rocky Mountains, deserted human towns, industrial complexes, dense city zones, exotic locales, and arid deserts where Rayonne forces are setting up construction sites to build ships. My gameplay footage I'm shown showcases a dense city zone. The Rayonne comb through the area, but thanks to a new marksman rifle upgrade, as well as masterful commanding of the ground units and their abilities, the person running the demo glides through the mission with relative ease.
While I got my hands on the multiplayer-centric closed technical beta in January, seeing the single-player campaign in action showcases the curated moments of the campaign, as well as the exclusive slow-motion tactical speed that occurs when you select a ground unit ability. While the basic concept of flying around in your Gravcycle, providing air support and relaying commands remains the same, these seemingly small changes appear to alter the action in meaningful ways, effectively differentiating single-player from multiplayer. I can't wait to get my hands on the campaign and see if it feels as good as it looks.
In total, Lehto expects experienced players to get through the campaign in anywhere from 8 to 10 hours on the regular difficulty. However, Lehto says that higher difficulties like Maverick, or the hardest difficulty, Outlaw, will likely take more than 15 hours. "It's not overwhelmingly huge by any means, but it's within a 30-person team to build something within scope," Lehto says. "It's fairly reasonable but substantial enough. It's really satisfying, and it's got a nice beginning, middle, and end to it. It's a nice rollercoaster ride that it takes you through. We feel like we hit a nice spot for length."
We don't know when exactly Disintegration is coming, but Lehto says the team is, "wrapping up the game as we speak." For now, we just know that Disintegration is hitting PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2020.