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Disintegration - What We Know So Far

Disintegration, a new sci-fi first-person tactical shooter, is on the way from V1 Interactive. Marcus Lehto, considered one of the key creators of the Halo series, co-founded the independent studio in 2012 following his departure from Bungie. Lehto worked for the developer for over 15 years, starting out as a freelance graphic designer in 1996 when he developed UI for Myth: The Fallen Lords. Bungie then brought him in as art director to forge a new series, which developed into Halo. Over the following decade and a half, he played various roles in the franchise's development, ranging from 3D artist to creative director.

Lehto now serves as V1 Interactive's president and creative director, overseeing a team of about 30 people, including AAA veterans and up-and-coming talent. Private Division, Take-Two's indie label, will publish Disintegration, V1's debut title. The two companies announced their partnership back in 2017 alongside other projects from The Outsiders, Panache Digital Games, and Obsidian Entertainment.

Disintegration's release date

Disintegration does not have a definitive release date; however, V1 Interactive has shared that it will drop at some point in 2020. Private Division narrowed the launch window during a July 2019 press release, stating that the game would come out during Take-Two's 2021 fiscal year. This means you can expect it between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Intended as the first title in what Lehto has described as "an ambitious new IP," Disintegration will launch on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. There's no word yet on whether the studio plans to bring the shooter to Nintendo Switch or Google Stadia.

Though it's unclear how far along V1 Interactive has progressed in the development process, the team has already shared the first gameplay for Disintegration. They also provided hands-on demos of the title's 5v5 multiplayer at Gamescom 2019. "It's finally time," said the team in a July 2019 update. "The train has pulled away from the station and we're picking up speed."

The trailer for Disintegration

V1 Interactive put Disintegration on the map with a teaser trailer unveiled in July 2019. The trailer provided the first look at the Gravcycle, a unique aircraft piloted by the game's main character. The announcement trailer revealed during Gamescom's opening night show introduced protagonist Romer, the first gameplay, and the game's core tone and storyline. 

Clocking in at two-and-a-half minutes, V1 packed a lot of elements into the video, including a humorous exchange between Romer and one of the other characters. Though Disintegration focuses on dark themes, the trailer implies that the doom and gloom will be broken up by more cathartic, light-hearted moments, such as the exchange at its conclusion. This serves as a small but potent reminder of the characters' humanity in a world shaped by the extremes of posthumanism. Hopefully, V1 will maintain this duality in the final product.

The Integrated and the Rayonne in Disintegration

Disintegration takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth in which civilization has collapsed because of extreme climate change, overpopulation, food shortages, and related issues. When a pandemic threatened to wipe out humankind, scientists developed the integration process: a method for removing the human brain and placing it within a robotic body. These scientists intended Integration as a temporary fix that would allow humanity to survive. Once the world had stabilized, they intended to reverse the process.

Integration served its intended purpose. However, a post-humanist sect emerged amongst the Integrated who had no desire to return to their original forms. This sect solidified into the Rayonne, a terrorist cell that declared war on the remaining humans, hunting them one-by-one and forcing them to integrate. The Rayonne, having seized power, continue this crusade, destroying anyone who gets in their path or disagrees with their extreme viewpoints, including other Integrated who wish to one day reclaim human bodies.

Romer Shoal and the Outlaws

In Disintegration's story campaign, you play as Romer Shoal, and Integrated outlaw who rebelled against the Rayonne agenda. Romer leads a small resistance group composed of people from various walks of life who reject the extreme viewpoints and slaughter imposed by the Rayonne. Instead, they fight for a brighter future, hoping to one day reunite with their families and reclaim their humanity.

Lehto said in an interview with Edge magazine: "All these characters want, ultimately, to become human again. That's the carrot hanging out on the end of the stick – but they're not sure that carrot actually exists. They're working hard to find their loved ones that might still be alive; they want to find and secure what's left of humanity ... They're journalists, they're teachers, they're metal-shop workers and cops. They have different agendas, political agendas and cultural upbringings. They don't all get along great with each other. But they're survivors, and they're out there to help in the fight."

The gameplay in Disintegration

Though it draws inspiration from Halo, V1 Interactive has not restricted Disintegration to pure shooter elements. The game acts as a hybrid, mixing first-person shooter mechanics with real-time tactics and squad-based combat. As Romer, you pilot a Gravcycle, which functions like a tricked out hoverbike, calling on its onboard weapons while commanding a small ground unit. Each of your AI squad members possess their own specialties and abilities that you can utilize in battle.

"We try to keep the mechanics as simple as possible for directing them to locations or targeting specific units," Lehto explained. "We wanted to limit the amount of micromanaging you're going to do because you also have to play a shooter at the same time." According to the creative director, V1 Interactive first pitched Disintegration as a six-hour game. It has since expanded to a 13-mission campaign, which plays out over about 12 hours. 

The multiplayer modes in Disintegration

Besides the main campaign, Disintegration will feature three multiplayer modes that come with a variety of maps. "These frantic team-based battles require smart coordination, utilizing ground units with individual abilities while simultaneously maximizing the destructive weapons on the Gravcycles," says the official website. Similar to solo mode, you can choose from several Crews, each equipped with their own loadout and combat role.

V1 Interactive shared one of the mutliplayer modes during Gamescom 2019. Called Retrieval, the 5v5 mode pits two teams against one another as they alternate between playing defense and offense. The attacking team attempts to stop their adversaries from retrieving energy cores and delivering them to an extraction point. Disintegration's multiplayer component is "built on hero moments" and, unlike other popular online games, will not include an online progression system. IGN's Joe Skrebels, who spent 20 minutes playing Retrieval, praised the mode which he picked up quickly despite the complex concept: "Lehto's new game feels more like a mixture of space combat, Titanfall, even elements of MOBAs."

Disintegration, Halo, and Destiny

As expected from a game designed by someone with Lehto's background, Disintegration possesses a lot of similarities to the Halo and Destiny franchises. The former has served as a core part of the IP's marketing, a fact that Lehto takes great pride in. "It's inescapable for me," Lehto told Edge magazine. "It's in my DNA: that art style, the kind of action that is particularly interesting to me and I think would be interesting to others as well. When we were first pitching the game around, it was both an attractor and a detractor. When I pitched it to Microsoft, they were like, 'It looks a little like Halo'. I said, 'What do you expect? I was the guy who made Halo.'"

As many people have noted, Disintegration gives off strong Destiny vibes, with one fan even mistaking it for a Destiny expansion initially. Much of these comparisons stem from Disintegration's fast combat system which, much like the Destiny series, encourages you to keep moving forward for healing and cooldown reductions. Despite the similarities, the blend of genres and gameplay styles have already distinguished Disintegration from other first-person shooters dominating the market.

Disintegration started as a spiritual successor to Myth

Though Disintegration's Halo and Destiny roots have taken center stage, the game drew its initial inspiration from another, more unexpected Bungie title: Myth. The real-time tactics title, which Lehto worked on as a freelancer at the start of his Bungie days, released in 1997 to general acclaim. The debut game helped establish the emerging real-time tactics genre and spawned a sequel and a prequel. According to Lehto, Disintegration started out as a spiritual successor to the series before taking on a life of its own.

"It quickly took a very, very different path. We wanted to try introducing a first-person shooter mechanic into this universe, and see what we could do to invent, essentially, gameplay mechanics that no-one else is doing right now," said Lehto. You can still see Myth's influence in Disintegration's tactical components; however, V1 Interactive has carved out a new niche for their debut IP. With its combat and cyberpunk elements, it at once feels familiar, yet, not quite like anything the shooter crowd has seen before. We'll see what other surprises the emerging studio has in store in the coming months.