If you thought Disintegration looked like Halo on a hoverbike when you saw its gameplay debut during Gamescom 2019's opening night (I sure did), don't worry, the developers welcome the comparison. The project from new studio V1 Interactive is being led by director Marcus Lehto, one of the original creators of the Halo series at Bungie. It's a new game world with a unique, vehicle-enabled approach to tactical combat, but Lehto happily confirms in an interview with OXM editor Chris Burke that the Halo remains strong in this one.
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"There’s no doubt that there’s going to be direct comparisons especially as for me personally, I designed the Master Chief and many other iconic things. But then the Halo universe itself, that’s my art style, that’s my vision. That thumb print is going to carry through into whatever I do next, so there’s going to be some comparisons there. And also for a first-person shooter game and the story, I have a certain kind of theme and things that I feel are really interesting - and there’s hints of that, as far as that gameplay loop, that design loop."
The boots-on-the-ground combat we've seen so far has been evocative of Halo, but your boots specifically will always float at least 2 meters above the ground throughout Disintegration. You play as a Gravcycle pilot, and you'll use that on-high perspective to give the rest of your squad commands as you swoop around and light up enemies with your own on-board weapons arsenal.
As Lehto points out, this is another parallel to the Halo series. You probably know that Halo started out as a real-time strategy game ("literally Myth with a sci-fi skin" Lehto says) and later changed into a first-person shooter in development. Bungie experimented with adding some tactical elements back in with its final game in the franchise, Halo: Reach, but it couldn't quite get it working in a satisfactory way. Disintegration brings that concept around, full ring world. Er, sorry, full circle.
"Ironically it’s very similar, where it was a real-time tactical game and we literally added the element of the player being that eye in the sky, but also being an active participant of combat on the ground," Lehto says. "That’s when it turned into this vehicle called a Gravcycle that you pilot and control combat from. That’s when it took on a personality all by itself, that there’s no other game like this out there - which was a challenge for us because we had to really figure out all of the inner working mechanisms, of how that was going to work fluidly with the player."
From what we've seen so far, it looks like V1 Interactive has a pretty good handle on it. Disintegration is scheduled to arrive in 2020 and you can read the full interview with Marcus Lehto in the next issue of Official Xbox Magazine.