Destruction AllStars didn’t really set the world on fire when it was revealed alongside the PlayStation 5. Don’t get me wrong, the game itself had a lot of zany charm whilst the destructive vehicular-combat looked super exciting (and very pretty), but the high-price tag and focus on multiplayer didn’t really do enough to excite gamers – especially when it was meant to be launching alongside big hitters such as Demon’s Souls and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
It turns out that Sony took the early feedback on board and did something unpredictable: not only did they delay the game until February 2021, but also revealed that it would be made available for free for PlayStation Plus members. That’s a BIG win in my eyes and gave Destruction AllStars a better chance of success.
Well, it has finally launched on the PlayStation 5 and I’m happy to report that it’s just as charming and fun to play as I hoped it would be – even IF it is in need of a bit more content to keep players invested in the long term.
Destruction AllStars’ gameplay revolves around competing with rival drivers across four different game modes. The objectives vary across these modes, but ultimately it all comes down to one thing: wiping out your rivals in the arena.
This is done from the comfort of your vehicle, with three basic types available: a smaller car that’s nimble and can get you through tight areas, a fast car that places an emphasis on speed, and a bigger car that packs more punch when shunting your rivals. Each car has a HP meter that will fall when collided with, whether that’s when getting hit by another vehicle or accidentally crashing into a wall (or one of the annoying bumpers that will randomly rise from the ground in certain arenas).
It’s up to you to decide which vehicle works best for you, though the fact that you’ll be competing with other players to get to them does mean that you can be restricted to whatever one you can reach first. Don’t worry too much if you can’t get your preference straight away – they’re constantly respawning across the arena and it’s easy enough to swap between them.
Combat remains the same across the three vehicle types, with the player able to simply speed into other racers to cause them damage or hit them with a well-timed slam. These slams reminded me of the Burnout series, with the player able to hit a sideways slam by flicking the right stick left or right or slam ahead of them by flicking it forward – simple. What ISN’T simple is your timing, especially in multiplayer where your rivals can be a bit more unpredictable. I lost track of the amount of times that I thought I’d land the perfect hit, only for the opponent I was jostling with to move out of the way and leave me wasting a slam or, more often than not, accidentally slamming into a wall instead. It’ll take a bit of practice to get used to, but when you do? Believe me, it’s exhilarating wiping out a foe. They’re perfect to use when trying to evade incoming shunts from rivals too, proving that slamming doesn’t JUST have to be an offensive manoeuvre.
Either way, it’s a really cool feature that ensures that showdowns between vehicles remain exciting throughout, whilst the fact that you have to wait for your slam attacks to recharge means you’ve got to be strategic with their use.
It’s worth noting that whilst the vehicles are the crux of Destruction AllStars’ gameplay, there will be times when you won’t find yourself behind the wheel. If your car does end up getting wrecked or you simply eject to find a new set of wheels, you’ll find yourself on-foot and running around the arena. With cars boosting around and shunting and bumping each other, you’d probably expect to be roadkill in next to no time, right? Well, it turns out that Destruction AllStars’ cast are an acrobatic bunch and can quickly evade incoming cars with a well-timed button press, whilst the fact that they can jump high and wall-run means they’re pretty nifty at getting their way around too. You can even activate an ability that makes them faster and gives them a double-jump, making it easier again to evade incoming vehicles or leap to new ones that might’ve otherwise been out of reach.
It’s pretty thrilling finding yourself on-foot and made for some of my favourite moments playing so far, especially since it’s possible to jump on top of a rival’s car and steal it for yourself or wreck it by competing with them in a QTE. It’s a novel idea that helps set Destruction AllStars apart from similar titles in the genre, plus it’s SUPER satisfying to take out a foe this way…
When it happens to you, though? Rage.
It all comes together to make for a surprisingly strategic and undeniably exciting experience, but it’s one that’s given a bit of extra charm thanks to the colourful cast of characters. At launch, Destruction AllStars has sixteen characters to choose between, with each having their own unique special car that can be called upon when its meter is charged up. These special cars have neat abilities that can really give you the upper hand in battle, whether it’s a huge speed boost, extra shielding to protect you from damage, the ability to leave a damage-inducing trail of fire in your wake, stealth-protection to hide your car from view, or even giant saw blades to grind up cars in front of you – there’s a rich selection of abilities on offer across the cast that fit the zany vibe of the game perfectly, with the choice you make catering to your style of play.
My favourite? It has to be Ratu, with her special ability allowing her to unleash a huge concussive blast that’ll cause massive damage to anyone in her vicinity. Believe me, I earned PLENTY of points using this and it’s always a treat to unleash upon foes JUST before they can slam into you.
So it’s clear that the core gameplay experience of Destruction AllStars is great and that the game has enough depth to keep players fully invested in its destructive antics, but how do the game modes hold up? There are four modes in the game in total: Mayhem, Gridfall, Carnado, and Stockpile. Mayhem acts as the game’s equivalent of a deathmatch, with the free-for-all gameplay simply seeing players amass points by wrecking their rivals. Gridfall takes a battle royale-style approach, with the floor falling from beneath the arena and seeing players fall to their doom – the last car standing is deemed the victor. Carnado sees two teams face off against each other and amassing points by damaging opponents, though those points will only be added to your team’s tally if you manage to drive your car into a huge tornado in the middle of the arena. Get wrecked or leave your vehicle in the meantime? Those points are gone. Finally, there’s Stockpile, where players have to try and take control of three different areas of the arena by depositing points they have earned into them.
I enjoyed the selection of modes on offer… well… except for Stockpile, which I found was a bit crap compared to the others. I’ve had a blast playing through the risk-and-reward gameplay of Carnado, whilst surviving to the end of a match of Gridfall is utterly exhilarating. Mayhem lives up to its name too, with the free-for-all action seeing players trying to obliterate each other from the get-go… it’s wild.
My only real problem with the game modes is that aside from Gridfall, they can feel a little samey. Whilst the overall objective can differ a little, it’s always all about slamming into rivals and scoring points – it doesn’t really change much outside of that. What doesn’t help is that the scoring can be a little inconsistent; there were times where I’d slam into a rival and get next to no points (and an insult from the commentator) but there were also times where I’d accidentally nudge a player or end up in a group collision that I didn’t really contribute to but still score masses of points from. Whilst I’m sure there is some method to the madness of scoring, there were times where I was just left a little baffled by the inconsistency of it all.
I wasn’t a big fan of the arenas of the game either, with each feeling very similar in design from an aesthetic standpoint and lacking the personality found in the other areas of the game. They can also feel a little vacant if you don’t have a full match of players and there were some occasions where I’d actively have to look for players to attack, especially when playing the team-based modes. Oh, and those pop-up bumpers that I mentioned? I’ll NEVER stop hating those.
Despite these flaws, I’m having a blast playing Destruction AllStars. It feels sublime to play thanks to the flawless 60fps frame rate, whilst the visuals are bloody impressive too – especially on the character and vehicle designs. Add to that some fantastic sound design (and the recognisable voice of the UFC’s Bruce Buffer as an announcer) as well as some neat haptic feedback via the DualSense controller and it’s clear that the game has all of the pieces in play to offer a memorable multiplayer experience that’ll keep players coming back for more… well… as long as the developers keep providing content for the game, that is.
See, whilst Destruction AllStars’ gameplay is addictive and fun, there’s not a whole lot for players to work for right now. You can level up, unlock new character skins, vehicle skins, and emotes, whilst there are also daily and weekly challenges to work towards for an experience points boost too. However, there’s not a whole lot to really incentivise progress, with the unlockable extras not really sparking excitement right now thanks to their simplicity. Similar titles such as Rocket League or Fortnite encourage players to keep playing by including all sorts of juicy and exciting rewards, but there’s nothing here right now that I really care about enough to work for.
I’m hoping this is something that can be rectified in the coming weeks or months, whether that’s with more fancy outfits or even some new characters. I mean, it’s a first party title… imagine how cool it would be to be able to unlock the likes of Aloy, Kratos, Ratchet or Nathan Drake?! There’s potential there, whilst adding more game modes down the line would certainly pique players’ interest in the long-term too.
For now, there’s a really fun gameplay experience here that’s only let down by a lack of things to work towards. It was a freebie for PlayStation Plus users so there’s definitely going to be a player base in Destruction AllStars – here’s hoping that there’ll be enough fresh content brought to the game over the next year to keep those players coming back for more chaotic fun.
Destruction AllStars’ chaotic vehicular-based combat makes for an exhilarating (and surprisingly strategic) experience that I’ve had a blast playing – I just hope that it gets enough post-launch content and support to keep players coming back for more.
As it stands though, it’s certainly a heck of a lot of fun to play. Sure, there’s some inconsistencies in its scoring here and there and the arenas themselves lack imaginative flair, but between its colourful cast, it’s satisfyingly destructive driving, and its slick visuals, there really is a whole lot to like about Destruction AllStars frantic showdowns.
Developer: Lucid Games
Publisher: PlayStation Studios
Platform(s): PlayStation 5