Destruction AllStars Review: Potential Meets Pitfalls
In this new stay-at-home era, online games have grown even larger in popularity. A hit game, like Valheim, becomes part of the cultural zeitgeist and infiltrates all corners of your internet experience. Destruction AllStars is a not hit, at least not yet.
It’s a shiny package with fun characters, enjoyable gameplay, and room to grow into a household name. But poor balance and in-your-face microtransactions result in a game that presents itself as a premium retail release but feels like a free to play game designed to nickel and dime players.
Destruction AllStars Review: Potential Meets Pitfalls
Destruction AllStars is a car combat game for the Twitch generation. It’s a demolition derby with Rocket League style driving and Overwatch-esque hero characters, called AllStars, complete with unique hero abilities. It is all wrapped in a colorful, bombastic, and emote-filled Fortnite presentation.
The game is gorgeous. Colors are vibrant, vehicle designs are clean and detailed. Level and character designs exude style. All of that makes Destruction AllStars a very next-gen-looking game. It’s presented as a major prime time television sporting event, complete with famed UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer introducing matches. It makes for an exciting spectacle.
Players start on foot and race to take control of one of several different car and truck variants. Car combat focuses on slamming into opponents at high speed, causing damage or wrecks, and accumulating points. Bigger slams result in more points.
AllStars are not helpless on foot. They can knock over other vehicle-lacking players, hijack other AllStar's rides, and activate traps for vehicles to crash into. They can also platform and parkour above the fray to collect crystals, which speed up access to the key differentiator between them: Hero Breakers and Hero Cars.
Hero Breakers are unique abilities AllStars can activate when outside of vehicles. They vary from invisibility to magnetic fields and cardboard boxes (seriously). Eventually, players can summon their Hero Cars, which feature unique looks and boosted specs.
Each Hero Car has its own unique ability, called a Car Breaker. Some have defensive abilities, such as Twinkle Riot’s the Mr. Sparkles, which equips damage-reflecting bumpers. Others, such as Blue Fang’s Shredder, are offensive and can instantly wreck other AllStars.
Smash and Crash Action
Driving and crashing are enjoyable, and vehicles are fast and responsive. There is a good variety of rides to choose from, such as high-speed racers, ultra-maneuverable buggies, and powerful trucks, to name a few. The vehicle choice affects the best strategies for causing damage, adding some variety to the gameplay.
But while the Car Breakers are fun to use, they're very unbalanced. Most matches start with a sort of gold rush, as players flock to offensive-oriented AllStars. Gameplay rewards damage dealt far more than survival, creating a significant advantage for Car Breakers that can instantly cause wrecks.
On-foot gameplay doesn't fare well, either. The parkour isn’t as fluid as many other games, and actions on foot aren’t very impactful. You can try and jump on an enemy vehicle to take it over and wreck them, but it’s too easy to be shaken off. You can fight other AllStars that are out of vehicles, but you can’t actually knock them out, and the fact that your attack has a cooldown makes it a boring back and forth affair.
Usually, your time is spent just searching for your next ride or collecting crystals to summon your hero vehicle.
Motivated Motor Mayhem
Destruction AllStars does have an interesting variety of play modes.
Mayhem is a solo match where the highest score wins. Gridfall is Destruction AllStars' answer to battle royal, where players try to survive to the end in an ever-shrinking arena. Carnado has a team accumulating and banking points in a tornado. And Stockpile has you collecting gears from wrecked opponents to claim and hold three territories around the map. All can be played online or locally versus bots.
There’s a number of cosmetic options, as well, ranging from skins and emotes to shouts, victory poses, and more. They don’t affect gameplay but are meant to be rewards for progressing in the game. They are purchased using one of two currencies; AllStar Coins (AC) are earned from raising your level in-game by completing matches and challenges, and Destruction Points (DP) are purchased with real-world money.
Unfortunately, the cost of items in AC is high, and the rate at which Coins are earned is pretty slow. The number of hours that DP can save a player is significant. This pressure the economy puts on the player to spend money is much more akin to a free-to-play game looking to recoup the developer's investment.
This issue is exacerbated by the Challenge Series.
Destruction AllStars isn’t necessarily a multiplayer game. There is a very small single-player “story” mode called the Challenge Series. These different stories begin and end with cinematic storytelling featuring one of the game's AllStars. You play through a series of special events, most of which are unique and not otherwise accessible.
Initially, you can only play through Ultimo Barricado’s story. A second AllStar's story can be bought, and a third is time-gated for future purposes. Presumably, more will be available for purchase in the future, but locking these unique game types and the only story content in the game behind a paywall further disconnects any sense that this is a premium stand-alone game.
Destruction AllStars Review – The Bottom Line
- Fun destruction derby gameplay
- Colorful cast of characters
- Vibrant graphics
- Balance needs work
- Little player motivation
- Overbearing microtransactions
Destruction AllStars is a fun game to watch and play. However, the slow pace of progress and lack of tangible goals limit the motivation to continue playing. The funneling towards microtransactions for progress and paywalled single-player content is frustrating. That's not to mention balance between AllStars is sorely in need of work.
The good news is all of these issues can be fixed. The bones of a really great online game are here; it’s up to the developer to make the right changes. Until that time, Destruction AllStars will continue to be an overall mediocre experience.
[Note: The PlayStation Plus version of Destruction AllStars was used for this review.]