Destruction AllStars is the latest offering for PlayStation fans and can be downloaded for free with an active PS Plus membership. This car-smashing, hero-based arcade game sports an eye-appealing style and high-level polish expected under the PlayStation brand. Unfortunately, Destruction AllStars is only just that – all style with little substance.
What is Destruction AllStars?
Out the gate, Destruction AllStars is a car combat arena game that sets itself apart with its sixteen uniquely-designed drivers with specific powers. Players can, at will, jump into and out of vehicles for an added dimension to online battles as well. Each character comes with a Breaker, an on-foot ability that can damage other opponents, and their specific car that mirrors their Breaker. There are three vehicle types to use when in the arena: Speed, Small and Nimble, and Heavy. Each have their pros and cons in dishing out damage by smashing into other cars. On top of a character’s Breaker, each have a one-button melee attack while on-foot.
A personal favorite driver of mine, the eccentric green-haired driver Ratu, was my default character due to her damaging area of effect blast ability. By correctly positioning myself in the middle of other distracted players and using her breaker, my wreckage score would shoot up to the top. It is in the moments of taking advantage of your driver’s powers where Destruction AllStars is the most fun across the game’s four modes.
Wrecking in Mayhem
Destruction AllStars launched with four game modes that can be played in both singleplayer and the 16-man multiplayer: Mayhem, Gridfall, Stockpile, and Carnado.
Mayhem and Gridfall are free-for-all matches. In the former, your objective is to crash into and wreck as many opponents as possible to win. Gridfall is the last-man-standing game type in which the floor disappears over time. Carnado involves 8v8 team-based matchups that have players gathering “Gears” to add their overall score. Finally, Stockpile is another 8v8 game mode in which one team needs to take control of three landmarks on the map to win. Jumping into online matches can vary depending on your game mode. Mayhem seems to garner the most players, but I had a hard time getting into Stockpile and Carnado. Even so, Mayhem was the only one I truly enjoyed for more than an hour. Gridfall, Stockpile, and Carnado did little to keep me engaged, so hopefully future content drops can introduce more exciting game modes.
With the premise of Destruction AllStars, it would be safe to assume the game would be an addictive and competitive thrill. Sadly, that is absolutely not the case. When two cars ram into one another, the destruction on-screen just lacks any sort of out-of-body euphoria you would expect. It is an odd realization, especially since the game is technically sound in gameplay feel and visuals. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers of the Dualsense are being taken advantage of for better engagement, like the revving of engines and hard trigger clicks to start your car. However, those features and the game’s polished coat are just veils for an unfun game at the core. The brief elation of the game’s first few hours wore off once I realized I experienced everything the game had to offer.
Dipping into Destruction AllStars’s singleplayer
Arcade mode is one option for solo players in which you can set the game mode, a map, and the difficulty. The second singleplayer option is Challenge Series, a set of uninspired missions that provide brief character interactions. Think less of a story mode and more of Mortal Kombat arcade endings.
Only one Challenge Series, which can be completed in about 30 minutes, is available at launch. The developers have said Destruction AllStars is a multiplayer-focused game, but its Arcade and Challenge Series feel too much like throwaway content. Both offer very little incentive to participate since rewards cannot be earned in them.
Customizing Your Driver
Following other hero-based multiplayer games, Destruction AllStars offers a ton of cosmetic items to unlock. Character skins, emotes, voice lines, profile icons and banners – the whole nine yards. The game offers two in-game currencies to purchase them: AllStar Coins and Destruction Points (DP). Destruction Points are the premium currency that has to be bought with real-world money.
1,000 AllStar Coins are given to the player by leveling up their profile, which can only be done by playing the game’s multiplayer. None of the game’s singleplayer modes offer any of the two currencies. With character skins priced at just above 8,000 AllStar Coins, it can take up to two hours to earn just one. Despite a fun emote or cool skin to go after, there is not much motivation to keep playing. Profile progression feels incredibly shallow and meaningless with rewards being few and far.
One alarming note is a large amount of the cosmetic items require both AllStar Coins AND Destruction Points to purchase. So not only does Destruction AllStars have you put the time and effort to afford a particular skin, but they also ask for you to pay with real money as well. An active Challenge Series requires 200 Destruction Points to access. It is unclear if developer Lucid Games plans to carry with this model.
Destruction AllStars Disappoints
It is here where we run into the Destruction AllStars microtransaction problem. With this egregious practice in place, the game sure feels more like a live service free-to-play title than a once-$70 game. However, this may be PlayStation’s intention since Destruction AllStars is free to active PS Plus members until April. As of writing this, there is no way to purchase the game physically or digitally.
So while Destruction AllStars has the potential to be greater in its post-launch life, it is going to be a steep hill drive up. The game looks and runs fantastic on Sony’s newest console, but that does not detract from the obvious shortcomings. A poor progression system and microtransactions are just surface-level problems.
The main sell of the game, smashing into and wrecking cars with style, is not as fun as it should be. The drivers, while diverse and fantastically designed, do not resonate. Their specific abilities ultimately fall short of depth and are no incentive to keep playing for hours on end. As the first PS5 exclusive of 2021, Destruction AllStars is surprisingly disappointing.
While there is some fun to be had, the game is not interesting enough to keep coming back to. At best, I will dip into a few matches here or there just because. But even then, I can think of few better ways to spend my gaming time.