In the world of game reviews and criticism saying, “once you’ve played X amount of time you’ve experienced it all”, is a no no trope. It’s right up there with making you feel like Spider-Man and comparing anything to Dark Souls. Unfortunately for Destruction AllStars it’s rather apt as you’ll probably put in about 30 minutes before things start to feel samey.
But let’s back up. Destruction AllStars is a PlayStation 5-exclusive vehicle combat game with an over the top, American-style sports showcase aesthetic. At its core you need to bash people around in fictional cars to rack up points and come out the other side as the winner.
The twist here is the fact that there’s a large focus on jumping out of your vehicle and switching up cars as needed. Player characters (Called “Stars”) can move at a decent clip while out of the cars to collect resources, get into new neutral cars around the map, or jump on top of another car – when there, after completing a QTE, you can either blow the car up for points or claim it as your own.
Those resources power up abilities called Breakers. Each of the 16 Stars have two Breakers, one you can use while on foot and one for when you’re in your hero vehicle. Hero vehicles can only be called in once you’ve played a bit so you’ll be driving those neutral cars quite a bit until you can bring it in.
Breakers are supposed to bring big tempo swings into the game. For example there’s Star Blue Fang, a King knockoff who seems to be the most popular pick in the online lobbies were frequented. On foot Blue Fang’s Breaker will knock other Stars down. In his hero vehicle, however, Blue Fang’s Breaker spins up saws attached to the front of the car instantly destroying any vehicles it touches. This is balanced out by your slower driving speed and limited Breaker time.
The final modifier here is the ability to boost forwards or to either side. This can be used to increase your speed but it’s intended to ramp up damage – as well as protect yourself – when slamming into enemies.
All of this sounds great and, after the 10 or so minute tutorial, things play great too. The vehicle handling is very loosey goosey but serviceable for this over the top experience. Absolutely wrecking other cars is a joy and hopping around on foot can be fun too as you dodge around cars trying to hit you.
The problems start here when you actually want to go and play and you see how little ways there are to enjoy this premise. In multiplayer and arcade Destruction AllStars has four game modes and three maps. That’s it. Sure there are a lot of characters and – in a very Overwatch, hero focused light – that seems substantial, but it really isn’t.
Even worse than those three numbers is that the game modes and maps are so similar. Listen, we understand that there’s only so many ways to skin a cat and only so many ways to make car accidents fun, but four game modes is not enough. For example game mode Mayhem is just “crash and earn points” while Carnado is “crash and earn points… but those points only count if you bank them!”.
The maps seem different enough but the colour palette and layout isn’t very distinct when you’re going a thousand miles an hour and players are chasing you with saws and swords strapped to their cars. This makes all three maps feel far too similar.
Multiplayer and arcade are very much the same with the latter simply replacing other people with bots. There’s a third way to play called “Challenge Series” which is just odd. It’s singleplayer with bots but you can’t play it offline, probably because you need premium currency to unlock some of it, a topic we’ll discuss in a bit.
Challenge Series is a collection of tasks you need to complete in a three star system to unlock cosmetics. The Challenge Series is probably the most fun and varied content the game has to offer with each focusing on a different Star and giving you some semblance of a singleplayer experience.
While we may have taken a few hundred words to explain at the end of the day this is only an hour or two of real, new content before you become extremely bored of it. And now let’s talk about pricing.
Destruction AllStars was the centre of controversy when it was supposed to cost $70 much like other next gen games. This was walked back and made available, for no additional purchase, to paying PlayStation Plus subscribers. Destruction AllStars will remain like this until 5th April 2021. The game should, after that time, become available to buy like any other game, though the price for that is not listed on the PlayStation Store.
Then there’s the microtransactions. Destruction AllStars has two currencies: AllStar Coins and Destruction Points. The former is earned by playing and the latter can be bought with real money for the following prices: 500 for R89, 1 000 for R179 and 2 000 for R350.
So what can you buy for that? For 200 – 400 Destruction Points you can Challenge Series. A top of the line skin, which applies to both your Star and their car, costs 16 500 AC, and 600 Destruction Points.
If you’ve been abused by predatory microtransactions in the past that may not seem bad, but it should be noted that the cosmetics here are damn boring. The most expensive ones for the Stars and cars are little more than colour swaps, and not anywhere close to premium skins in other games which can completely change how characters look.
All that’s Destruction AllStars. A game that has a rather fun core concept but little more. This comes across more like a beta or a free demo rather than a full game. The fact that this was supposed to cost $70 is laughable and we think the best thing that can be done with it now is leave it perpetually free as an incentive to stay subscribed to PlayStation Plus. If you’re already subscribed for another reason download this and have fun for an hour or two. If you’re not, don’t worry about it.
With games lacking so much like this we usually recommend waiting a year or two and then coming back and hoping the developers have added more. As so much of Destruction AllStars is multiplayer focused there’s the fear of coming back to empty servers and no way to access content that requires grinding.
What a shame. We really are starved for vehicle combat titles and, on the surface, this looked good. I guess that’s what reviews are for, huh?
Destruction AllStars would be barely passable as a free game. As a paid experience it's an insult. Go ahead and give it a spin while it's free through PlayStation Plus, but it's not worth spending a cent on.