A projectile that splits into multiple ones and/or forms back together?

Hi there, apologies if I am posting in the wrong place as I am very new here. I’m just starting out with VFX, been watching a lot of materials online and getting some inspiration, and since the recent Diablo 4 announcement I thought I’d try and recreate some of the sorceress skills shown in the demo.

So the first thing I wanted to do was a frost bolt. The way the D4 one works is, she forms several icicles in the air, which then join up into one large bolt and fly towards the target. I was wondering how would one implement this? One other thing is, how would one implement projectiles getting stuck in other meshes?

Here’s some frames of the sorc spell from D4 - please excusle the poor image quality. I had to put them in an imgur album because I’m not allowed more than 1 image per post.

  1. Small icicles start forming next to the character
  2. Icicles get bigger and move forward towards her staff
  3. They form into one big ice bolt followed by small debris that fly from the staff to the target
  4. Spell impacts the target in an icy explosion and the target has a frost shader applied to it

I am working with the particle system in Unity and also exploring VFX graph, but if someone can give a general software-agnostic breakdown (or in any other tool) I should be able to put it together as well. Cheers!