On the face of it, Destruction AllStars is the perfect game for PlayStation Plus. As a simple multiplayer-focused game, it could thrive on having a consistent and passionate player base, and the subscription service is the best way for it to get that from the get-go.
It’s also a game that’s so easy for anyone to get to grips with. You’re driving around arenas to smash into other players, so anyone can do well, and the skill ceiling isn’t so high that players are scared off. It doesn’t get as hardcore as say Rocket League’s ‘the floor is lava’ like mentality at the top level.
At a base level, Destruction AllStars is a well-designed game. The driving is responsive and fast-paced, it has a style that makes the characters stand out, and running around on foot as vehicles rush past you adds a nice bit of variety to the action.
It’s a fun time at first, especially with a group of friends, but that enjoyment quickly dissipates as the modes and progression lack the variety needed to pull you back in time and time again.
After around 15 matches, across the game’s four online modes, I quickly found myself bored of doing the same thing over and over again.
There are four main multiplayer modes, with two asking you to bank gears and one that’s Destruction AllStars’ version of Fall Guys’ Hex-a-Gone — the stage falling away over time and you battling to be the last car standing — but they all boil down to crashing into people as much as possible.
Crash to earn gears, crash to drop gears, crash to earn points, crash to knock people off the stage.
As much as they all have different objectives, those objectives are all met by crashing into other players, which gets tedious fast. Of course, a destruction derby-like game is going to be about crashing more than anything else, but a multiplayer game needs modes or challenges that pull you back in beyond the basic gameplay loop.
The single-player content is extremely limited too. They’re either short and fun time trials or 1v1 variations of the core multiplayer modes, each with three challenges to complete along the way.
They’re enjoyable enough if nothing special, but they’re over in a flash, with you having to spend real or in-game money to even unlock more levels, which sends you back to the receptive online playlist.
It doesn’t help that the car combat in Destruction AllStars isn’t particularly satisfying either. Side on shunts have a crunch to them, which is great, but it’s often difficult to know when you’ve clipped someone beyond the point notifier at the top of the screen. There’s not enough feedback either in-game or through the DualSense to make crashing satisfying enough.
The likes of the Burnout series, Rocket League, or even Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit have done wrecking better, and some of those released generations ago.
Nothing away from the car combat stands out either. Running around is promoted because it allows you to bank gems to use power-ups (Breakers) earlier, but I found myself simply rushing to find my next ride once I was ejected, trying not to be run over along the way.
You feel extremely vulnerable when on foot, with it being tough to tell where enemy cars are coming from, and the power-ups don’t feel necessary enough to warrant the reduction in the points you can earn by being on foot. You’re better staying in a standard car to try and rack up points that way.
The single-player challenge series even forces you to play on foot to promote it in multiplayer, yet it never makes it feel necessary.
Each of the characters in Destruction AllStars’ huge roster has two abilities (one special version of a car and one on foot boost) but none of them stand out. Each car ability simply adds weight to the damage you can do in one way or another or limits the damage you can take, resulting in the character choice not mattering all that much.
Destruction AllStars also doesn’t have the magic that other PlayStation Plus success stories had when it comes to drawing players back in. Fall Guys had a consistently compelling and evolving unlock system that made you want to play another round to try and unlock a hot dog suit for your bean whereas Rocket League pushes you to improve and the unlocks come as a bonus.
Destruction AllStars doesn’t have that. The cosmetic items aren’t interesting, with most of them being locked behind expensive in-game currency microtransactions, and it doesn’t seem like the skill ceiling will ever be very high.
The gameplay focus is so heavily weighted towards ‘crash into stuff’ that timing of lunges and barges is all you can really improve on. There’s not much in the way of tactical thinking or positioning that you really need to think about in any of the modes.
Destruction Allstars is also pretty bare content-wise. There are challenges to compete offline, but with only four online modes and three main maps, it’s crazy that it was initially going to be a $70 launch title. As a free Plus game, I think PlayStation has altered the perspective and limited the scrutiny on Destruction AllStars value.
None of this is to say Destruction Allstars is a bad game, it certainly isn’t. Your first ten or so matches in any of the modes will be fun — it’s hard to not find any enjoyment from smashing into stuff — and there’s certainly potential for a quality party game, but don’t expect the fun to last very long.
Scratch the surface and you’ll find a very shallow car combat game that simply doesn’t have what it needs to pull you back in over and over again. Destruction AllStars is unlikely to be the next PlayStation Plus success story.
- – At first, it’s a fun time, it just doesn’t last long
- – The style and character variety is great
- – Driving feels good
- – Crashing doesn’t have a satisfying crunch
- – Lacks content
- – Cosmetics locked behind microtransactions and expensive in-game prices
- – Gets boring quickly
Feb. 2, 2020
Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC
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