At the PS5 presentation event back in June 2020, a PlayStation Studios game that we had never heard of before was seen for the first time, and that came from a development team that many of us did not locate until we searched the internet. Lucid Games is a British team that has recently worked on projects as diverse as Need for Speed Payback and Apex Legends, that has participated in many of the great arcade driving games of the last couple of decades and responsible for a good part of the PlayStation racing titles: here are people who have worked on the WipeOut, in MotorStorm and DriveClub.
For this reason, and because communication around the game has not been widespread until a few weeks ago, one can draw the wrong conclusions, so it is necessary to clarify that Destruction AllStars is not a driving arcade but an action multiplayer where the goal is to defeat rivals, by smashing them with your car. Inspired without a doubt by Destruction Derby and the Burnouts, the central key to the experience is the collisions with other vehicles, the accidents, the losses and the destructions; Of course, staying without a car does not mean staying without playing, because our character will be able to travel the stadiums doing parkour to take another vehicle and even steal that of the rivals.
Just like the bumper cars, but faster like a lot faster…
After a delay and a controversial price tag (it was going to cost $80, but right now, it cannot be purchased), from February 2, it is included in the PlayStation Plus subscription until April 6, a decision that made some raised their eyebrows. However, it is, without a doubt, a fun game, but at the same time, it is a title to which you can put more or less important buts in each of its sections. Lucid Games’ idea is entertaining because the very concept of crashing into other cars and generating chaos is more than entertaining, especially for fans of proposals such as the aforementioned Burnout or the great Split / Second: Velocity. Still, the idea could have been carried further. It seems that there are things that have not been thought enough, and some of them are radical for the experience.
As soon as we start the tutorial car, it is thrown from the platform on which we have picked it up, the trigger vibrates, and accelerating to the maximum becomes more complicated. The trigger offers resistance as the car receives damage; when they hit us, the haptic response is forceful and satisfying. But those sensations are mixed with an arcade control of the vehicles that fail in the most important thing: the skid., which almost always makes us turn 180 degrees, and which for some reason that we cannot understand has been placed on the Circle button, making it difficult to access to prioritize the use of the characters’ abilities.
The difficulty of executing the skid as we expect it to work (the moments in which we lose sight of an opponent are common because the skid in a tight turn has put us looking where we did not want) is linked to a design of the scenarios too big to be appropriate for what’s really fun and the main goal of (almost) every mode: colliding. The four layouts available right now (in Barcelona, Las Vegas, London and Tokyo) are very similar visually and in the arrangement of their fixed elements (fences to parkour by collecting crystals to summon the special car; platforms where the common cars are) and mobile (parts of the stage that fall; giant fans that activate suddenly), whose variations depend more on the game mode that of the location. Thus, although there can be up to 16 players per game, the moments in which we are driving around the oval arenas are too frequent (you can drive along the wall, one of the many things in which it resembles Rocket League ) without meeting. With no one to run into
This happens more in some modes than in others, yes. In Mayhem, it is less common: here, eight players compete in games that last about five minutes where the winner is the one who obtains the most points by colliding with others, destroying opponents and running over characters who are on foot, among other things; is the most direct type of game, in which fewer external agents can diminish the direct fun it offers and the best to begin to understand the basics: the use of the platforms and the collection of crystals with the character on foot, the fact of that it is better to eject from the vehicle before it is destroyed, etc. Gridfall is one of the most interesting in the first games, but the one that loses steam the fastest: basically, it is a battle royale in a small stage (there are three different types) that is collapsing, but in which collisions and destruction are promoted because you allow getting lives; it is fine at its base, but a game is not very different from the previous or the next.
Team modes offer the best and worst Destruction AllStars experience. We start with the second: Stockpile. This is a team checkpoint or lifelong domination for 16 players, the goal being to fill the three benches on stage with gears; victory goes to the team that controls the most banks. The gears appear on the floor of the arena when destroying the adversaries’ cars, but to collect and store them on the bench, you have to go on foot. The problem in this way is that walking is much less fun than driving the vehicles: yes, it gives a certain freshness to the games having to get off from time to time to collect crystals while jumping from platform to platform with simple control, change cars or tackle opponents; but the actions that we have at our disposal when going to the leg are minimal. We imagined that when we met another opponent on foot, this would become a kind of brawler, and nothing could be further from the truth because the blows cannot be given in succession and the impacts are clumsy; furthermore, one’s own ability is less useful than it seems at first (and what the tireless narrator seems to believe).
The mode that has made us hit “Find Game ” over and over over the past few days has been Carnado, and not just because of the brilliant pun. Here the most direct fun that the video game can offer comes together with acting with your head and with a tension that not even Fall mode has. Two teams of eight players compete for more points than the rival in games that last approximately 10 minutes. The interesting thing is that these points are obtained in batches, and to target them, you need to take your car to a tornado that destroys the vehicle. Although the figures are not exactly like that, let’s say that you get three points for striking an opponent and one for giving another one weak; You have four points, but when you launch your car against the tornado, you will only score one, because the points go in batches of five, 15, 30, 50, etc … But if they destroy your car while you have all those points accumulated, you lose them, which generates a risk-reward mechanic that works very well when the rest of your teammates know how to play and that causes very frustrating situations when they are rookies who bump into you. In Carnado, we have had moments of authentic chaos in which half the team hit a single opponent’s car and very tense situations in which three or four of us escorted as best we could a teammate who had 80 points on him.
A story of uninteresting characters
These modes can also be played alone against a very soft artificial intelligence in easy mode and too hard in normal and hard thanks to Arcade mode. It is not the only offline mode, as there is also a kind of story mode that makes its ambitions quite clear under the name of Challenge Series. The idea is to present each of the characters’ abilities and history with small cinematic scenes that do not say much and that are interspersed between games, some of them based on the main modes of the game and others on rather bland challenges. It looks like it’s half-cooked because at the moment only the Two-Character Challenge Series is available, one of the free and which includes uninspired tests like breaking boxes before time runs out and a bad copy of Crazy Taxi (these tests can be repeated to get more stars to improve our times, and with them, more cosmetic items); and another for which you have to spend premium currency.
This is a melon that must be opened: are we facing a full game included in PlayStation Plus temporarily or a free to play to which PS Plus users have early access? We are not sure, but that the game is not available to buy on the PS Store or in physical stores seems to indicate the latter, which corroborates its monetization strategy. Hiding these Challenge Series behind the paid currency (which appears for purchase from the PS5’s own main menu) seems too daring for a premium game. It remains to be seen if the daily and weekly challenges that will be activated in the coming days give enough coins to make it viable to get these substitutes in a campaign mode without going through the box. Still, at the moment, it is not like that and, if the only one available is representative of the quality of the others, it is not worth it.
We do not say this because the proposed challenges are much less interesting than the multiplayer modes available, but because they do not make you want to know much more about the characters. Mechanically, its existence is interesting (although perhaps somewhat unnecessary): most have exclusive cars with strong abilities that give more variety to the games, although some win much more than others. But in visual design, they have no personality. The character casting seems like a mix of Overwatch’s well-accomplished inclusivity but poorly executed here, with the poochy character design from Fortnite, where there is no shortage of dances, gestures and supposedly comic phrases that are not even a bit.
The artistic direction that seems to be taken from an inaccurate market study contrasts with the visual’s technical part. The game moves great, at a necessary 60 frames per second that only suffer a little when the accidents are too massive (in a way, it is satisfactory to see how that chaos is also transferred to the frames ) and with some textures (look at the clothes of the characters or in the pieces that fly out of the cars) and some effects (the fire of the torches that there is before jumping into the arena and the tornado in the center of the stage in Carnado are some examples) that make it clear that we are facing a game of the new generation. It seems looser to us in terms of sound. Rarely there is not strong music accompanying the games; a decision probably made conscientiously to avoid problems with the musical rights to potential streamers and content creators.
Destruction AllStars is a fun game that could have been so much more. From the first games, he conveys the feeling that he wants to be the Rocket League on PS5, that many of the decisions made (the characters, the setting, the powers) are based more on market studies that indicated that he had to be more like Overwatch and Fortnite that to studied and required slogans of game design and mechanics. Perhaps if instead of adding modes and stories that will soon be forgotten, they had spent that time better measuring the sizes of the scenarios and polishing the details of the control, Lucid Games could have signed a multiplayer arcade based on accidents and mayhem that will go down in the history of the genre. As it has come out, it is a title to which, if you are already subscribed to PS Plus, we recommend you give it a try; but if not, you will not miss any reference for a genre that needs new ideas like this but better executed.
PlayStation has provided us with a one-year PS Plus code for this review.