We’re barely a few months into the life-cycle of the PlayStation 5, and while the console is finding its footing slowly but surely, it’s still lacking in one all-important department: Exclusive games. Granted, Mrvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Astro’s Playroom, and Demon’s Souls are terrific showcase experiences for what the console can do, but the PS5 library needs more blockbusters in its collection if it wants to continue being a dominant force.
Destruction AllStars…is not one of those games, although it definitely gets points for trying. While you won’t be slapping that game on to show off your shiny technology that you barely beat a scalper to the market for, Destruction AllStars does at least put the pedal to the metal when it comes to being a fun diversion, similar to last year’s smash-hit Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
Just like that game of adorable beans exploring a game show battle royale, Destruction AllStars is also a pseudo-freebie, provided that your PS Plus subscription is up to date and you grab it within the next two months. It’s entire setup is dead easy to sum up as well: Grab a car, hit the track, and drive your way to victory with bash ‘em and crash ‘em skill.
Where Destruction AllStars sets itself apart, is in how it draws a line between its actual core driving experience and its mad Le Mans-style dash towards grabbing another vehicle when you write yours off. Each of the characters in the game’s incredibly colourful cast of car combatants come with a mix of two unique skills: An on-foot power that can be anything from a speed boost to maximum kawaai power, and the ability to call in their signature vehicle which in turn has a special trick up its own exhaust pipe.
You’d think that being without a vehicle in an arena that is brimming with rush-hour drivers would be an instant death sentence, but Destruction AllStars actually makes the gamble pay off with agile movement, platforming and a chance to either steal an opponents car or wreck it in a quick mini-game. When you’re actually sitting behind the wheel, Destruction AllStars really kicks into top gear.
Each vehicle of course has its own quirks, ranging from agile hatchbacks that can squeeze between dueling SUVs, heavy cruisers that can total the opposition in a head-on collision, and sporty hypercars that can outrun anything on four wheels or two legs. Car combat is also simple: A forward ramming attack and a side-shunt make up your arsenal, with each ability having a short cooldown between use.
Use it at the right time, and you’ll wreck the competition while reveling in faint echoes of Blur and Burnout. Using it in a more tactical situation, and you’ll be able to narrowly avoid trying to awkwardly explain to your insurance why you’re spending the next few weeks waiting for an Uber ride. There’s a mechanically satisfying setup to Destruction AllStars that’s easy to jump into, mixing a gentle learning curve with snappy racing mechanics that feels great to master.
Its real meat and potatoes so far is its quartet of game modes, with each variant being playable in online or arcade mode against bots. Mayhem is your regular every driver for themselves deathmatch, while Gridfall is a battle royale between vehicles on a stage whose segments are being removed as the clock keeps on ticking. Stockpile is, and I swear I’ve played through the tutorial for it three times already, some sort of car-centric version of control, where players have to hold certain points on the map without being run over in the process.
Carnando on the other hand, is my absolute favourite mode. A mix of destruction derby and Destiny 2’s Gambit, it’s all about smashing your way towards picking up a stack of points and then shoving them into the gaping maw of the titular carnado, which in turn wrecks your vehicle and forces you to grab a new one so that you can continue the madness.
As a PS5 game, there’s also an expectation for it to be different. More next-Jenny, which Destruction AllStars focuses on mostly through the use of the DualSense controller. The game emphasises haptic feedback, regularly jolting your hands with vibrations from collisions and reminding you that your junker is one gentle breeze away from exploding as it rattles around on the course.
The triggers also provide some resistance when you hit the accelerator, but that’s it really. Astro’s Vroom-room, this ain’t. Annoyingly, there seems to be no option for disabling those haptics in case they become too distracting, but at least the entire package looks lovely in its crisp 4K and 60FPS graphical output. It won’t trigger any “now that’s next-gen!” comments from players, but it performs smoothly and it never drops a frame. And I’m alright with that.
What I’m not alright with is the baffling decision to make TeamSpeak on as a default, which resulted in numerous matches wherein my DualSense controller screamed at me with rabid children and at least one instance of a random dude masticating on the other end of the lobby, the gnashing of his teeth sounding like a jar of crusty mayonnaise being fisted. There fortunately is a fix as Umar pointed out to me, which involves hitting the PS Home button and pressing square to mute the horrid cacophony emanating from your controller when a match starts, but it’s still annoying to have to do this every time.
Squeezed between all of this is what feels like an obligatory level-up system for the AllStar cast, with players able to rank up, unlock new cosmetics or spend actual money on them. With all that being said, Destruction AllStars is still a great way to spend a few minutes during lunch. Where the game truly shines, is in how it respects your time.
Matches are short and to the point, they’re (mostly) easy to understand, and the offline options provide a more tailored experience for your specific needs at any given moment. There’s no denying that the game could do with some more variety on its tracks and a more varied selection of general cars in its garage, but considering that developer Lucid Games has plans to keep the wheels rolling for at least a year, Destruction AllStars is likely to evolve into a very different game over the next 12 months.
Last Updated: February 4, 2021