I’ll open by admitting that I had very little interest in Destruction AllStars before it was announced as a PlayStation Plus title. Since then however I’ve found myself getting excited to play what looks like a mash up of Rocket League and Destruction Derby. After finally spending some time playing the game both online with friends and solo, I’ve had a lot of fun while at the same time realising why they decided to make it free to play on PS Plus..
As always you can check out the video version of this review in the link below if you prefer.
The aim of the game is quite simple, cause as much destruction as humanly possible by using your chosen car as a weapon. And just like most weapons in other games, you can ditch your weapon for something better by jumping in and out of different cars. It’s a unique concept that really excited me while playing for my first couple of hours. Sadly though the novelty wore off quite quickly once me and my friends realised that there are only two team games to play and only one of them is actually enjoyable.
Starting with the fun one, Carnado is a mode where you gain gears by causing damage to members of the opposite team. The twist is that you can’t actually cash in those gears until you wreck your car in the tornado in the middle of the arena. This makes for a lot of tense moments as if your car gets wrecked before you make it to the tornado, you lose all the gears you’ve gained. Luke and myself would often get into a panic if we had 30 gears stored up and only half our HP remaining, debating whether to risk trying to get to 50 gears or just cashing in before we lose it all. Playing this mode was the most fun I had on Destruction AllStars by a fair bit and completely overshadowed the other team game, Stockpile.
Stockpile has a similar idea to Carnado as it’s all about grabbing gears and storing them. This time though you have to get out of your car and stand in point A,B or C to store them and claim that point. Encouraging the player to exit their vehicle and just stand in one spot felt completely counterintuitive to what Destruction AllStars is all about and we quickly ditched this mode and went back to Carnado for the rest of our session.
Unfortunately both these modes are hampered by some dodgy matchmaking which led us to staring at menus for almost as much time as we were actually playing. We’d come across multiple issues such as being stuck on a ‘finding players’ screen despite it saying we had 16 out of 16 ready to go. We also encountered a bug where two of us were put into the game while the third was left stuck on the menu screen and even one occasion where I thought I’d been left behind only to be dragged in after the game had started and I’d just been assigned a random character to play with. It’s worth noting that this would only occur when playing team games in a party as playing on my own against others online was always a much smoother experience. I’d still recommend trying to get a party working though as this game shines when playing with friends.. when it works.
The issues I just mentioned had a frustrating knock-on effect to the actual gameplay as well. Because parties would often be missing a player, it would lead to the remaining players in that party leaving the game just before it starts. This meant there was more than one time where we found ourselves in a 8 vs 4 situation where we’d just be driving round an empty arena looking for someone to hit. I have complete faith that the online team modes will improve after a few patches as when it works it’s a blast, but at the time of writing it’s currently both a fun and frustrating experience.
Other online modes outside of team games include Mayhem and Gridfall. Mayhem is the most simple mode in the game where it’s just a big free for all to see who can cause the most damage in the time provided. It’s a lot of fun but wears thin quick. Then there’s Gridfall which is probably the most enjoyable game mode where you just have to survive as the ground falls away piece by piece and you must try stay safe while also attempting to plunge other players to their doom. I just wish this mode was also available as a team game I could play with friends.
Moving to the offline portion of the game now and straight up I don’t have a lot to say here because quite frankly there’s not a lot to see. Outside of being able to play all the modes I already spoke about against the AI in arcade mode, we have something called challenges. These challenges act as the only thing close to a story where you take one character through a series of.. you guessed it.. challenges. Although the cutscenes in-between these unique challenges (that I won’t spoil here) are wacky and enjoyable, there’s nowhere near enough of them. In fact on Day 1 there is only two character challenges available and get this.. one of them is behind a bloody paywall! I realise that this is pretty much a free to play game now but I’d be lying if I said that didn’t still boil my piss.
While we’re on the subject, yes Destruction AllStars has microtransactions as was expected, but other than the stupid decision to make an offline story mode something we have to pay for, the rest really aren’t too intrusive and are just there for cosmetics. You can also unlock most of these cosmetics by level progression so it’s not all bad. Annoyingly though these funky paint jobs and outfits are pretty much the only reason to level up.. so if you’re like me and don’t really care about sticking your favourite character in a pink jacket then you’ll find next to no reason to keep playing once your friends log off.
The characters themselves are a really enjoyable bunch who each come with their own special vehicle and unique ability. It’s also really cool that every one of these guys are available on Day 1 so you’ll never need to worry about a lack of variety when picking your driver. I’ve already found three or four who I really like and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the developers add even more of them over time.
These larger than life characters are only improved by vibrant and colourful visuals that make Destruction AllStars worthy of being a next-gen exclusive title. The game also makes great use of the PS5’s Dualsense controller from the rumble on the accelerator to feeling every individual footstep when running about outside of your car. The incredibly fast loading times (when not matchmaking) is also a highlight of this being a PS5 exclusive.
In closing, by the time you actually get into a game of Destruction AllStars with your friends you’ll undoubtedly have an amazing time and lose hours of your evening just like I did, and I’m sure the current dodgy experience of matchmaking while in a party will be fixed before too long. Once my friends logged off though, I found it hard to find a reason to keep playing. The offline challenge mode just isn’t that exciting and they then expect us to pay for the second one! The amazing visuals, great use of the PS5 features and the hilarious inclusion of Bruce Buffer as an announcer all left me with a smile on my big dumb face, but I couldn’t help but feel that it’s because we got it all for free.. If this game had come out as a full AAA title at £60 or £70 as intended, I think I’d be angry at how shallow a lot of it feels. Fingers crossed it stays free to play forever because that’s the best way this game can work for me. I’m sure we’ll be back at a later date with an updated review once more has been added but for now I give Destruction AllStars on PS5