You’d be forgiven for having forgotten about Destruction AllStars prior to its release. It’s marketing, aesthetic, character, and just general appearance is something wholly forgettable. Looking like Fortnite had a baby with Rocket League, you’d actually not be far off with that assessment either. Question is, how does it hold up under scrutiny? We’ll find out in my Destruction AllStars review today!
Genuinely excellent PvP games are few and far between, and Rocket League and Fortnite are two examples of such games. Sadly, this lovechild of the two doesn’t hit those heights. It’s also rife with microtransactions that make the full priced product a real insult, but we’ll get to that in due time.
“..rife with microtransactions that make the full priced product a real insult,”
After a relatively painless tutorial in which you’re taught the Destruction AllStars mechanics, you’re able to head straight into multiplayer or Arcade. Arcade is the same modes, maps, and characters from the online PvP but set up against AI which is pretty helpful for practising, if you care that much about getting better (you won’t).
The PvP is the main draw of Destruction AllStars, and that’s where the most fun is to be had. The suite is made up of four modes:
Mayhem is probably the main mode of the game, and the easiest to understand and hop into. 16 players jump into a relatively large arena and go all out to rack up as many points as possible by hitting and destroying other players. The win is determined by the most points racked up when the time runs out.
Very clearly inspired by Hex-A-Gone in Fall Guys, Gridfall is a last man standing mode where pieces of the map fall away as you’re navigating the circular arena. Extra lives can be earned by KO-ing your opposition, but if you get KO’d, you’re out. Winner is the last man standing!
Carnado may be the worst named mode in Destruction AllStars, but it’s also the most engaging. The first of the co-operative modes, Carnado is an 8v8 operation where players need to deliver the scrap they earn by hitting and destroying enemies, to a tornado in the centre of the arena.
Stockpile is very similar to Carnado, but morphed into a ‘Domination’ style mode. Three banks across the arena can be used to deposit your scrap, but you have to actually get out of your car to collect the scrap and deposit it. This makes Stockpile the game mode that takes advantage of Destruction AllStars actually pretty good on-foot gameplay the most. The win situation is determined by whoever controls the most of the banks when time runs out.
Each mode is different enough from one another that the variety feels fulfilling in short bursts, but Carnado is so far ahead in terms of the amount of thought it takes that the other game modes feel underwhelming as a result. Mayhem is the event that will draw early players, but there’s something fundamentally… empty about the whole thing.
“there’s something fundamentally… empty about the whole thing.”
It’s a feeling that carries over to much of DestructionAll Stars. Once you’re past the flashy menus, lively character selection screen, and the admittedly pretty slick match introductions, you’ll find it surprisingly sterile.
Despite strong efforts from the DuelSense, which does a great job of registering things like impact and throttle, Destruction AllStars isn’t as satisfying to play as you’d maybe assume. Wrecking enemy cars doesn’t really feel as interactive or rewarding as you’d really want going in, and as a result a win or loss doesn’t feel determined by skill or judgement. Any music the game offers barely plays throughout each match, making it a fairly low key affair.
“at the heart of it, the gameplay in Destruction AllStars actually isn’t bad.”
It’s a bizarre juxtaposition because right at the heart of it, the gameplay in Destruction AllStars actually isn’t bad. It’s quite good in all honesty. Driving is reactive, and just weighty enough to feel like you’re in control. For a pure driving experience it’s definitely better than something like Rocket League, but obviously not quite up to par with a proper racing game, as I would expect.
In the same impressive vein, the variety in the characters is far wider than I expected. Destruction AllStars launches with 16 characters who are all fully animated, each with their own unique abilities and vehicles.
Characters have “Breakers”, their unique abilities, one for while they’re on foot and one for while they’re in their “Hero Vehicle”.
There’s Feugo, a horn wearing, mask wearing, fire oriented character. While on foot, his melee ‘Barge’ attacks leave a pool of fire on the ground that will cause some damage to people who drive over it. His Vehicle Breaker sets the car on fire, causing extra damage to anyone you pile drive into.
That’s just one of 16, and all 16 are notably different. Genesis drives a rocket car, and can reach the fastest speed of any vehicle in the game causing massive damage to anyone you hit. Harmony has speakers on her car who will damage anyone in her vicinity when activated.
“I don’t ever feel like a win or a loss was determined by the hero I picked, or how good I am with said hero.”
Of course most of the hero’s are funneled into either an offensive or defensive role, but each character can play vastly different given the opportunity. But being given said opportunity is something completely different. I’ve played dozens of matches across every mode and I don’t ever feel like a win or a loss was determined by the hero I picked, or how good I am with said hero.
Games like Apex, Overwatch, Siege, and others, they all rely on careful consideration of your character choice at any given moment. There’s none of that in Destruction AllStars, and my choice in character feels superfluous to the end result.
It’s a shame as well, because each of these characters are lovingly crafted and many of them wouldn’t look at all out of place in a Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch. There’s emotes, skins, and a small backstory for every single one. There’s also a respectable diversity in Destruction AllStars that’s rare in many mainstream video games.
Shyft, a character who can go invisible, used sign language as his form of communication in emotes. It’s also accurate sign language to the best of my knowledge. Female characters, unlike in many games like Overwatch, aren’t unnecessarily sexualised. Instead they’re just made to be interesting and as fun to play as Destruction AllStars allows.
“There’s also a respectable diversity in Destruction AllStars that’s rare in many mainstream video games.“
There’s a Somalian mechanic named Muna, a Brazilian called Lupita, a New Zealand motocross champion, a Nigerian action hero, and more besides. I’ve seen some people roll their eyes at this sort of stuff, but it’s something I appreciate.
If the variety and unique elements of these characters carried over to the gameplay that would be brilliant but, as I mentioned above, they don’t. Perhaps as Destruction AllStars grows, and the more people play, the skill ceiling will rise and that initial selection will matter more, but as of right now? Not so much.
This brings us on to the main problem of Destruction AllStars – what’s the reason to play?
“in Destruction AllStars there just… isn’t a reason to play,”
In some PvP games it’s the rank, in some it’s the progression, there’s a battle pass in others, but in Destruction AllStars there just… isn’t a reason to play, unless you happen to enjoy the mindless gameplay loop.
Speaking of Battle Pass, I kind of assumed there would be one and there kind of is? In what are called “Challenge Series”, they operate as mini-battle passes and also offer the only real story content that Destruction AllStars has to offer.
Before we get into it, I need to remind everyone that while Destruction AllStars may be free with PlayStation+ for the time being, it’s still a £69.99 game. I’ll repeat, £70 for a game that I’ll struggle to recommend for free when all is said and done. Spoiler alert for my verdict.
These Challenge Series offer players some slight story content, in the vein of character rivalries and such. They also offer cosmetics for each of the events you complete within them, offering serious incentive for long term players.
However aside from the first one which is free, I assume to get people interested, all of them cost real world money to buy. At least at the moment. There are two currencies in Destruction AllStars; AllStar Points, earned in-game, and Destruction Points. The latter are currently only available via the PlayStation Store, and are also used to buy certain cosmetics should you wish.
Now, and I should make this clear, AllStar points can be used to access all the cosmetics I could see in the Customise area, and they can be earned just by playing the game. The rate isn’t that bad either, I was able to build up enough for a skin after only a few hours.
The skins aren’t great though, nothing compared to the quality you see in Fortnite, Overwatch, or Valorant, but the skins you get there require a healthy combination of luck, gametime, or money, so it balances out. The cosmetics in AllStars are basically just colour changes.
“until then they’re just taking advantage of the people who like their game enough to play the extra content.”
But in a £70 game having the majority of your story content, and more than a few cosmetics, locked behind a currency you can only buy is just…. gross. Practically insulting to anyone who might purchase at full price some day down the line. Lucid Games have apparently claimed that Destruction Points will be available in game eventually, but there’s no word on when, so until then they’re just taking advantage of the people who like their game enough to play the extra content. Shambles.
It’s a significant blemish on a game that is otherwise extremely well produced. The animations are slick, especially when you’re running around on foot. The amount of care that’s been put into wall-running when it’s a fairly minimal mechanic most of the time is impressive. There’s a whole on foot game with your Breaker abilities that, at least right now, isn’t that important but works. Driving is weighty enough to be fun, and everything comes together well.
The game is gorgeous as well, and I mean it. A visual spectacle most of the time, with nary a hitch or bug in sight. It’s shiny, clean, and just detailed enough so as to not be too distracting from the actual sport you’re participating in.
“The long term incentive just doesn’t exist, and I don’t see the currently healthy population sticking around till whenever it does.”
The Everest-high production quality is just never actually matched, or done any justice by the gameplay. The long term incentive just doesn’t exist, and I don’t see the currently healthy population sticking around till whenever it does.
Destruction AllStars may be free on PlayStation Plus right now, but even then it’s not entirely free. Accessing the minimal story content costs you extra, on TOP of the £70 you might’ve just dropped if you don’t have the subscription.
The game has something, but doesn’t currently provide any reason to engage with it. It looks great, has a diverse selection of heroes that all stand apart from one another, and has some astoundingly well crafted mechanics. But those well crafted mechanics barely see any relevant use. The varied characters don’t affect gameplay in any impactful ways.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the game just simply isn’t deep or broad enough to be worth £70. I’m not sure I can even recommend it to those getting it for free. At best, Destruction AllStars is fun for a couple of hours, at worst it’s not that fun at all.
I’ll let you decide which side of the coin you fall on.