Destruction AllStars PS5 Review – Man, Destruction AllStars has been on a journey. After being announced as a PS5 launch game and then delayed to February and revealed to launch as a part of PS Plus, it certainly has had the most tumultuous time when compared to all the PS5 PlayStation Studios titles available now.
But, despite the wait, the package Lucid Games offers isn’t one you should be rushing out the gate to play. Destruction AllStars is a disappointing multiplayer offering missing key features you would expect in 2021 and a lack of variety, engaging modes and gameplay, and the sense that if this game didn’t launch in PlayStation Plus it would have dropped off the face of the earth and that may very well still happen now that it is free to a majority of PS5 owners.
Destruction AllStars PS5 Review
Manic Mayhem That Is Sometimes Fun
If you haven’t been paying attention, Destruction AllStars is a vehicle arena battler where you and opponents fight against one another to collide cars and deal the most damage, wiping out your opponents as you zoom from one side of the stadium to the other.
But, providing an interesting twist on this formula, if your car is destroyed that isn’t the end of your life, instead you will be jolted out of your windscreen or roof hatch and flung into the air, able to run around as one of 16 AllStars jumping into another vehicle which is waiting to be claimed or hijacking an opponent’s ride.
On the surface these two gameplay halves would seemingly come together to create a dynamic, constantly changing experience that is unlike anything we have seen before. The truth: it doesn’t and there are significant design reasons why.
So, vehicle combat on its own is fast, fluid and has a nice chaotic atmosphere as your speed around, turning corners with your handbrake, and jumping over ramps and smashing into other players’ vehicles. Each vehicle has a fair amount of punch and power to them and the DualSense controller does a fine, but not spectacular job of adding to that. Although, having played stuff like DiRT 5, the vehicles in Destruction AllStars feel weak and kind of like a shrug, with not a lot of movement in the adaptive trigger and the Haptic Feedback barely being noticeable while driving.
Colliding does add some power to the Haptic Feedback, but again, it doesn’t stack up to the collision felt in other PS5 racing games and overall it gives Destruction AllStars an unsatisfying feeling like you are colliding two toy cars together and the plastic clacks when they touch.
Whilst outside of a vehicle, you run around the field with the option to jump over vehicles, roll and evade them, or bash your enemies, which effectively is just a dive roll knocking opponents down; although this serves as a waste of time because you both have to get back up off the ground and it just distracts you from looking for a vehicle to drive. Jumping over or dodging an enemy is far easier.
You can then collect use your EXTREMELY unsatisfying and low jump to hop onto platforms and wall-run on billboards and surfaces to reach vehicles propped up on a platform to return to driving or collect shards which will build up your character’s Breaker and Signature Vehicle, which has its own abilities (more on that later).
But, what makes the meshing of these two gameplay styles so incredibly underwhelming is the fact that on-foot gameplay is clunky, weightless, and far too floaty. I already mentioned that your characters jump is far too low, but wall-running is not easy to pull off as the game can easily mistake your wall-run horizontally for a wall-run vertically. Additionally, there are a number of curved surfaces which don’t allow you to wall-run around the curve, with your AllStar just falling off the wall and dropping to the floor.
Platform placement in the air, above the main arena, is also questionable with me often having to fiddle around and climb onto a surface, falling off due to the AllStars’ floaty movement and readjusting my camera. A character’s on-foot breaker (special ability) does allow you to run faster but it doesn’t give enough of a boost to be meaningful.
This means that whenever you are on-foot, the only thing you want to do is get back in a car for the more enjoyable vehicular combat which is outmatched by other destruction derby games like Wreckfest, as vehicles here don’t really display the damage you do to them, with just parts rattling about, rather than falling off completely.
Matches also have no background music whatsoever, which gives the game a depressing aura with absolutely no energy. This combined with the underwhelming DualSense feedback and the general lack of Destruction beside flying out of your car means that matches just feel bland and without any flavor whatsoever, which is even stranger considering the game’s attitude which has been seen in marketing and trailers.
Characters, A World, And None Of It Interesting
What is by far the most disappointing part of Destruction AllStars is the fact that Lucid Games have built a fun and lively world with a colorful and wide cast of characters but they are unable to do anything with it.
Each character has their own unique style and atmosphere, from the stealthy quiet nature of Shyft to the bombastic and in-your-face attitude of Ultimo Barricudo and Harmony. Each character has personality dripping from their designs, colors, and attitude. This cast is also diverse from a variety of backgrounds and representing different body types.
But, the main issue with all of this is that nothing interesting is done with them from a lore and backstory perspective. They probably have some of that detail somewhere in the game, but it isn’t displayed clearly and can’t be found in the story-based Challenge Series mode, which has cutscenes that do not expand upon these characters at all, instead featuring a short quip or joke with the cutscene running for about 10-15 seconds.
These characters all feel like ones we have seen before, whether it be Lawbreakers, Battleborn, or any of the other “hero-based games” that have released in the last five years. They are all design and veneer, with no humanity, personality, and character built into any of them and it disappoints me greatly.
Adding to that are the stadiums, which are bland boring and all look the same, despite a palette swap and the addition of a trap or hazard here and there.
These characters do come with unique gameplay features and abilities. You have the standard features like some being heavy or light, but each character has their own unique Breakers. One for when they are on-foot and one for a unique vehicle, which has its own special ability.
The on-foot Breaker allows you to speed up your actions, but each character has an extra bonus as well, like being able to damage other players and hazards around you or bash opponents quicker. But, it doesn’t make the on-foot gameplay any more enjoyable.
The unique vehicles AllStars can summon in with their Breakers are far better, with each vehicle handling in a unique way and feeling like a genuine power upgrade. They all have their own special abilities as well, such as Shyft’s ability to turn invisible, Luipta’s trail of fire she can leave on the ground, and Sgt. Rescue’s smoke which he can activate, blinding opponents following him.
Each one is fun, unique, and enjoyable to use. They all also come back fairly quick, which means you can get a lot of use out of them in your vehicle, so long as it doesn’t get destroyed. But, the fact that these vehicles are so much fun to use and all so different makes the regular driving in “standard vehicles” bland and unexciting.
Destruction AllStars would be so much better if each character was in these unique vehicles all the time and the abilities were rarer, with each character having more of them. These moments of gameplay are so enjoyable that the 60% of the time you spend in regular cars and on foot never are as fun or thrilling.
A Mish-Mash Of Modes, Microtransactions, And Multiplayer Sins
Destruction AllStars at launch comes with four modes. You have your standard Mayhem, which is a race to the top with points granted for dealing damage. This is easily the most fun mode as it is all about wrecking other vehicles. Carnado is also a lot of fun as you pick up gears by damaging and wrecking your opponents’ vehicles and then bank them by driving into the middle of the arena and destroying your own vehicle, which is a nice risk vs reward dynamic and it is hectic but enjoyable.
However, the other two modes are not fun at all. Gridfall is quite literally terrible as it is a mode where part of the arena will fall out beneath you as the match progresses. But, in a game where you are being bounced around and rammed all over the place, the idea just doesn’t translate well and once you die that it is it. Game over.
Stockpile is fine and is just a variant on Carnado, with you banking gears in control points dotted around the arena. It isn’t particularly enjoyable, but it works as intended. Although, I don’t know why this mode is even here. I would have loved to see more interesting ideas or multiplayer staples like a Team Deathmatch or fun twits like abilities that recharge instantly. But, that will likely come in brief, limited-time playlists.
The lack of any single-player campaign or story mode is also disappointing. For those wanting to learn more about these characters and their backstories, there is nothing here for you. The Challenge Series events might have cutscenes, but they come at the end of a group of seven challenges and just involve two All-Stars joking around and riffing off each other.
It especially sucks, as Lucid Games have put a lot of effort into these AllStars’ designs and the world, environments, and attention-to-detail are all impressive. The problem with Destruction AllStars is none of it is ever utilised in meaningful ways.
The game also commits some serious multiplayer cardinal sins. The game has no way to mute players from the menu or have it set as a default option. You have to pull up the PS5 Control Centre and select the first card to mute players, which I didn’t even know about until another writer at PSU mentioned it.
Destruction AllStars was in development in various forms for 3-4 years and seemingly at no point, someone questioned: Should we let them mute players in-game? It’s just baffling and a major oversight. Progression is also strange with you only receiving AllStar Coins when levelling up in 1,000 coin clumps, which means it takes 8 levels to buy the rarest skins, which cost 8,000 AllStar Coins. It just isn’t fun to level up at all and no reason to keep doing so as cosmetics are mostly pallet swaps with no must-have skins.
When it comes to Microtransactions Destruction AllStars’ are not great. Whilst some cosmetic items are locked behind Destruction Points, which can only be purchased with real-world money. Challenge Series events are also locked behind this currency. You get one event for free and the rest have to be purchased.
These events are possibly one of the most enjoyable parts of the game. They form a 7 event checklist, each with 3 challenges to complete and going through them is a lot of fun. The tweaks and changes to the formula are inventive with you being asked to drop passengers off at points or deal damage in certain ways. This is basically the story mode we have come to expect from racing games.
But, this time, it is locked behind microtransactions, which feels scummy. I purchased the current Challenge Series using my money to see if there was anything special hiding behind it, but it was virtually identical to the free Ultimo one you get in the game. The rewards also are not particularly exciting, with a lot of voice lines and emotes. So far none of the Challenge Series events have offered skins.
Which makes me wonder why these events are even locked behind microtransactions in the first place. The rewards aren’t exicitng, there isn’t any must-play mode or feature, and it just feels like a way to suck money out of those looking for a single-player experience from Destruction AllStars. The whole thing is just icky and I hope the way to earn Destruction Points in-game comes sooner rather than later.
A Mess Of Unrealised Potential
Destruction AllStars has a lot of potential. Its world and characters are captivating and the art style is gorgeous and environments and models are visually detailed. But nothing is done with that potential. Modes are mostly boring or bland and the lack of any story mode or engaging single-player content really leaves a wide hole in the experience.
Gameplay is a rollercoaster with each hero’s vehicle having fun and unique abilities, but regular driving and on-foot gameplay are dull and clunky. Impacts feel weak and matches have a lack of energy and thrill to them.
Combine all of this with an uninviting and seemingly predatory microtransactions system and the whole experience is just a cluttered mess with far too much going on. Destruction AllStars feels like an indie free-to-play game that Sony decided to publish. A match here and there is enjoyable and I will hop in every now and again, but the whole package doesn’t come together at all and you won’t find your next great multiplayer game in Destruction AllStars.
Destruction AllStars is available now on PS5.