Destruction AllStars isn’t the PS5 system-seller we were hoping for

Destruction AllStars is out now on PS5 and free to download for PS Plus subscribers. This potentially massive audience at launch caused some to speculate, GameRevolution included, that it could follow in the footsteps of Rocket League and Fall Guys, two multiplayer games that became huge successes after being added to the PS Plus library. Unfortunately, after spending a decent amount of time with it at launch, it’s looking unlikely that it will reach those same heights at this juncture.

Destruction AllStars is a cross between Rocket League and Destruction Derby. It has the “sport of the future” feel of the former and the crunchy car-mangling of the latter, with players also being able to exit their vehicle at any time and wall-run around the arena. Across its four different modes, players will be tasked with earning points by crashing into rivals, earning knockouts by running over on-foot players, and wrecking other vehicles. Each mode adds a unique win condition into the mix, but they each basically revolve around you hitting people with your car.

The most glaring issue with Destruction AllStars is that hitting people with your car isn’t all that responsive. Considering the PS5 has the wonderful DualSense controller at its disposal, slamming into vehicles feels weightless. Compared to Astro’s Playroom, where even something as simple as walking in the rain was made exciting thanks to the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback, t-boning a rival in AllStars lacks impact.

 Destruction AllStars the next great PS5 exclusive?

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The process of hunting down a car to wreck lacks excitement, too. Each player has the ability to exit their vehicle at any point, which also means that when pursuing an opponent, they can make an immediate escape. As such, most car chases are abruptly brought to an end when an opponent’s health has been lowered, with them ejecting out before hopping into another car with full health. This means that completely wrecking a vehicle during a match is a rare occurrence, given that most savvy players will hop out of their car before their health is depleted.

The rarity of these wrecks also means that its scoring system has to accommodate for their absence. As such, players are typically awarded points based on how much they slam into their opponent’s car. For a light touch, you’ll get a point, for an average hit, you’ll get five points, and so on. There’s a reason why multiplayer games typically base scores around the number of eliminations earned and not the amount of damage a player has dealt, and that’s because the latter is much less satisfying.

But when you find yourself in the center of the action, it can be a lot of fun. Occasionally, there’ll be a multiple car pile-up in the middle of the match, and this is where Destruction AllStars is at its most chaotic and exciting. However, the arena sizes are way too large for this to be a regular thing, so most of the time I found myself driving around hoping to bump into someone. It feels like the arenas are oversized to give on-foot players more space to wall-run, but it’s to the detriment of the car-smashing which should be the focus.

Take a Breaker

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The swiftest way to wreck a vehicle is to make use of your special abilities. Each of the game’s 16 drivers have two of their own unique Breakers, special moves that can tip the balance in their favor. These Breakers are divided between on-foot abilities that can be deployed when you’re running around the arena, and car Breakers that you can use when you’ve hopped into your driver’s special vehicle. However, there’s a massive imbalance between these Breakers, which ensures that a few select all-stars are way more valuable than their opponents.

For instance, the tiger mask-wearing Blue Fang’s Breaker transforms his special vehicle into a shredder, instantly wrecking any vehicle that is directly in its path. On the other hand, the obnoxiously named TW!NKLER10T has a front-facing shield that is all but completely useless. It’s a shame that the gulf of difference in the usability of these Breakers means that some characters rarely get played, given the time that developer Lucid Games have clearly put into their designs.

A cast of destruction all-stars

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Destruction AllStars‘ cast of characters is its greatest asset, with it offering a varied range of all-stars with unique backgrounds. But it also feels like its on-foot gameplay was implemented to show them off rather than to add anything meaningful to the matches themselves. In theory, being able to transition from driving a vehicle to wall-running and evading opponents should be fun, but whenever I find myself out of a car I’m always just trying to jump into another one.

Players can technically take over an opponent’s vehicle by grabbing onto it and carrying out a quick-time event, but the timing to get onto the car in the first place is all over the place and the QTE leans heavily in the favor of the driver. While constantly being ousted from your vehicle would be annoying, the way that this mechanic is currently implemented makes it a pointless addition. The only way you’re taking over a vehicle is if the player driving it is too inexperienced to know what is going on.

Destruction AllStars is enjoyable in short bursts but a multiplayer game like this survives on its replayability, and I struggle to see how it will motivate players to keep going with it in its current state. With progression rewards currently limited to in-game currency that can only buy dull color swap skins, a single-player challenge mode that is mostly locked behind a paywall, and sporadically exciting matches, a lot of work is needed post-launch to keep players sticking around.