Destruction AllStars test: Sony’s new PS Plus giveaway is canceled
“Destruction AllStars offers satisfying accidents amid a collection of bizarre design choices for 50 cars.”
Missing online modes
Distracting DualSense support
Destruction AllStars is a messy video game, but probably not the way Sony intended.
The hyper-stylized vehicle combat game is full of monster-sized cars, loud crashes and bright colors. It also includes a number of 50 car ideas, each designed to take full advantage of the PlayStation 5’s unique features. From haptic feedback to integrating it into the console’s map function, a lot is happening under the hood of this month’s PS Plus giveaway … so much that the game’s developer is already tracking some of it back in less than a week.
Destruction AllStars’ easy-to-understand arcade gameplay offers satisfying destruction, but a host of bizarre design choices, underdeveloped ideas, and forced PS5 features leave this multiplayer game stuck in the park.
Let yourself be ruined
The core idea behind Destruction AllStars is simple: It’s a multiplayer demolition derby where players ram into other cars to earn points. It takes the smash-em-up gameplay from burnout but removes the actual racing component. When it comes to the basics, Destruction AllStars gets a lot right. The well-known driving controls make it easier to record and play from the start. In addition to the standard speed and break skills, players can perform an Aries by either moving the right stick up or sideways, making it easy to deal big hits in a way that feels intuitive.
The cars feel fast and can make sharp turns thanks to a handbrake that makes for high speed fun. Knowing an opponent is on your tail and quickly outmaneuvering them to avoid a collision is an easy pleasure. Likewise, the crashes themselves are just plain joyful. Every time two cars collide, there is a real sense of weight. Metal flies in all directions and there is a satisfactory crunch to emphasize the slam. There’s even a satisfying slow-motion glitch in the game’s single player mode to really get it home.
The problem is that finding the right framework for these strengths is difficult. The online Mayhem mode does the best job, throwing players together into a jack-of-all-trades where the one who destroys the most cars wins. It’s thin, but it best fulfills the game’s demolition premise with constant chaos.
The crashes themselves are just plain joyful.
The other multiplayer modes cannot shift into full gear. Gridfall is the game’s elimination mode, where players try to survive each other in a rapidly shrinking arena. Placing under the first two is as easy as getting out of a car and stepping onto an elevated platform while everyone else struggles. The game doesn’t penalize players for just waiting for it and offers little incentive to do anything until there are only two players left.
There’s also Carnado, which requires players to grab the aisles and place them in the middle of the arena, much like they did in Destiny 2’s Gambit mode, the very confusing twist of the game in a zone control mode that requires walking to get around Collect gears. The objective game has a little more to do, but nothing really takes advantage of the mess and chaos, making it feel like a playlist affair.
Too much character
The game really goes off course when it adds more to the mix. Like Overwatch, Destruction AllStars features unique characters, each with their own car and skills. The roster itself is a wonderfully colorful crew of eccentric characters that includes everything from a handsome luchador to a cat-obsessed e-girl.
The designs are charming, but the actual character system is missing. Players can get out of their car at any time and park on the map. On foot, players can attempt to take over enemy vehicles or pick up crystals to charge a special ability called a Breaker. The problem is, there is never a good reason to get out of the car. There is no real benefit to the climbing around, and none of the walking skills feel like they’re doing much of anything. Every time I activated my breaker, it was done solely to increase my speed so I could get back into a car faster. Imagine if Titanfall had given players the chance to get in and out of their mech at any time. Why would you ever go
Any layers added feel redundant.
Vehicle hero skills aren’t particularly convincing either. Each car gets a different “super” that includes everything from a stealth cape to a ramming hull. During my time with the game, none of them seem to make much of a difference in games. I barely notice when an opponent is using their special abilities unless it’s something visual like Feugo’s burning car. Most of the time I forget to activate mine and it doesn’t affect me noticeably.
Any layers added feel redundant. Instead of adding extra depth to the game, they’re a distraction that takes a simple premise and makes it overly complicated.
The gameplay itself is mediocre, but Destruction AllStars includes a handful of head-scratching options that completely prevent it. Some of them are subtle. There is no music during online games, which makes everything feel bizarrely quiet. How can a game with so much style not have a killer soundtrack? The on-screen text is also unreadable across the board, with no way to elevate anything. It’s like the game was developed on an IMAX screen.
The feel, the trigger feedback and the sound effects of the DualSense speaker are constant and often distracting.
Other choices are harder to ignore, like the game’s haughty microtransactions. The game offers both in-game currency and premium currency that was purchased with real money. The latter can be used to unlock the game’s single player challenges. It also has a truckload of commercial cosmetics. Some of them cost coins in the game, while others require real money in addition. Given that the game was originally supposed to be a full retail release, it seems like Sony retrospectively slapped a paywall on features to quickly flip the monetization strategy.
The most frustrating part involves features that are specifically designed for the PS5 hardware. When Astro’s playroom shows how much can be done with its unique technology, Destruction AllStars shows how much can be taken too far. The feel, the trigger feedback and the sound effects of the DualSense speaker are constant and often distracting. Whenever your car is in a rough condition, the triggers vibrate with a loud, clicking rattle that scratches.
Developer Lucid Games has already begun reclaiming some of the game’s worst features. Originally, voice chat was always activated by default, with all audio data being transmitted through the DualSense speakers. The controller’s built-in microphone was also always on, which meant that the players would unexpectedly share their audio every time it played. There wasn’t an option in the game to disable any of this initially. Instead, players had to open the PlayStation menu and manually disable voice chat each round. Just 72 hours later, voice chat was completely disabled.
There’s a good chance Lucid Games will revise the game’s most puzzling decisions if the community weighs in. Fortnite wasn’t built in a day, after all. The only question is whether or not it will go fast enough to keep up with a crowded free-to-play market that is itself an unforgiving demolition derby.
Destruction AllStars has a robust engine, but it has been redesigned in almost every way. The unnecessary foot component and character skills make for an otherwise easy but fun pick-and-play game with satisfying wrecks. Throw in excessive DualSense support and the result is a multiplayer game that is messy for all the wrong reasons.
Is there a better alternative?
Codemasters’ Onrush contains many of the same ideas, such as: B. Character Skills, in a much more focused package.
How long it will take?
It’s a multiplayer game, it depends on the player, but the flat gameplay wears off pretty quickly.
Should I buy it?
No. Unless you’re a PS Plus subscriber, there’s no real reason to be. If you are, there’s never any harm in downloading a free game.