Destruction AllStars is a brand new Playstation 5 Exclusive, free to download on Sony’s PS Plus service during the month of February. It’s an exciting new vehicular combat game that boils down to a combination of Overwatch, Rocket League and Wreckfest packed into one colourful title. This template feels fresh and great fun to play, but it also raises questions of whether it will get very old very quickly, or if it will stand the test of time.
Get Ready for Destruction
The premise of the game is simple, jump into an arena competing against AI or other players, sprint to the nearest car, hop in and start wrecking. For all 4 game modes (more on that later), the objective is all the same, either KO the players going on foot, or wreck their cars to knock them out of the game and score big points. To add variety into the equation, Destruction offers an Overwatch style roster of playable characters, each coming with their unique hero vehicles that offer eccentric power ups; you’ve got characters like BlueFang, a tiger-humanoid that deploys an Oversized shredder on the front of his vehicle and Fuego, who is a bit of a pyromaniac to say the least, using multiple flamethrowers as his ace in hole.
In total there are 16 different characters offering a wide range of vehicles and power ups to try. This may seem like a lot, but in reality, they don’t really feel dissimilar to each other, they’re a bit lacking in personality and seem just a bit too generic, hastily designed to tick the boxes of the different powerups the developers wanted in the game. When your hero vehicle isn’t unlocked, there is a number of base cars available to anyone, ranging from small and nimble sports cars with more agility but lower HP, and bigger 4x4s and trucks that move a bit slower but boast a bigger health bar. The clear meta lies with the bigger cars, the bigger health bar is a huge bonus with the amount of impact involved in the game, and this is something that may need balancing in future updates.
In terms of the actual gameplay, the cars feel and sound great to drive, with fast and snappy handling as well as being quick on the throttle. One downside to this is the annoying fixed camera angle when behind the wheel, you are left with a constant front on angle which feels like you’re wearing horse blinders. Arrows are added to indicate nearby players out of the field of view but it my opinion this still leaves the camera quite restricting. When you’re not cruising and bruising behind the wheel, the game opens up the opportunity to travel on foot. During a match you can hop out of your car and run to grab a new one if it is near destroyed, and you can also grab onto other cars to hijack or wreck them. This element of the game feels pretty lacking, and although they’ve made an effort to include partial free running with walls and platforms, playing on foot feels more of a chore than a benefit.
I often found myself getting impatient with the frequency of its involvement, ducking and diving incoming cars to get to a new one, all the while losing out on valuable points whilst the carnage continued around me. With this carnage being the core aspect of the game comes one of its biggest strengths, it does a great job of making every impact feel very weighty and thrilling. After flicking the right stick and slamming into another vehicle, you are met with an audible crunch of metal on metal, sparks and debris launching into the air, and a burst of flames if you score an annihilation. The game does a great job of making every impact feel as satisfying as the last.
To fuel this need for speed there are 4 different game modes on offer, two 16 player solo and two 8×8 team based. As for the solo modes there is Mayhem, a time-based game mode with the simple objective of score as many points as possible from impacts and KOs, and the player with the most points after 4 minutes wins. Then there is Gridfall, a last man standing mode with the objective of eliminating all other players to be the winner, by either destroying their vehicles or knocking them off a constantly shrinking map. For the team-based games the first is Carnado, a mode similar to warzone’s plunder, where you obtain gears from smashing into cars and lock them in as points by driving through a tower of smoke in the centre of the arena, the team with the most points at the end of the time wins. Finally, there is Stockpile, which is very similar to Carnado with the difference being gears can only be obtained and scored on foot, and there are 3 banking points to compete over. I found the solo modes to be far more enjoyable, the smaller arenas and impact-based objectives kept the tempo high and condensed the action so that it never felt far from the next high scoring shunt. The team based were mostly disappointing, with both being quite samey, and the objectives felt an attempt to shoehorn in the less enjoyable elements of the game, the bigger map size often left me driving long distances to find other players, only to then repeat all too soon as the action splintered out.
Aside from hopping into the 4 main game modes, there is also a practice mode which serves as a place to hone your skills against AI, and an additional mode called Challenge Series. This serves as a bonus activity which adds a slight story element to the game by pitting a character against their rival in a series of mini games, culminating in a final boss battle. I found this mode to be largely unimportant and whilst it was interesting to try out a new part of the game, I quickly lost interest and jumped back into the standard game modes.
Just like many combat gameplay-based titles, Destruction AllStars’ bread and butter is it’s multiplayer, but this feels pretty hit and miss, largely correlating to how the 4 different game modes play out. I had lots of fun playing Mayhem and Gridfall online, with the PvP elements and fast buildup of action creating a constant sense of chaos, trying to outwit and out manoeuvre other players whilst dodging impacts from all angles kept the excitement high. Playing Carnado or Stockpile was less enjoyable, with the number of players you compete against already halved there just didn’t feel as much to do, and the fast-paced nature of the game often left team mates crashing into team mates not being able to discern friend from foe. It is also a mixed bag as to whether you team up with players who play the objective, or who are just there to score wreckages, and whilst both can be enjoyable it does often create large score gaps. Matchmaking as a whole is very quick and the connection once in a game is solid, I didn’t run into any issues with disconnecting or failing to find a match in my time playing and experienced very little lag during matches.
Graphically the game is gorgeous, being developed exclusively for the PS5 it certainly has looked to optimise the next gen hardware. The 4k native resolution captures the arenas, characters and vehicles in every detail with immense sharpness and bursts of colour. The detail of the flying sparks and debris as well as the visual damage to cars helps to add a sense of realism and weight to each impact, it really does feel like you’re doing some heavy damage with each big hit. The audio is also sleek, the car engines sound very satisfying and very real, distinctly matching the type of car being driven, and the booming crunches of impact is on par with the visuals. Fans of the UFC will also hear a familiar voice in the game’s announcer, with the UFC’s Bruce Buffer providing the voice acting. The game runs at 60fps as standard and it performs very well, rarely dropping below this number even when there are big pile-ups and crashes on screen. The game definitely sets the benchmark of what can be expected from a next gen title.
Overall Destruction Allstars is an exciting new model to combat gaming, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing it, but the downsides of the game do leave me asking the question of whether this fun will last. The key to the long-term survival for games of this nature is to stay relevant and keep the player on their toes, very quickly games like these can become old news if new content isn’t added frequently enough. The mechanics and gameplay of Destruction AllStars is a lot of fun has the foundation to become a household name in the genre, but it is a question of whether the developers will grab the opportunity with both hands, or if players will lose interest too soon, jumping at the next new idea that comes along.