When you think of new console exclusives, you think of major first-party icons. You think of epic RPGs and pulse-pounding action games. You think of titles that are a marketing platform for the console itself, a killer app that makes you want to drop five hundred dollars just to play it.

Destruction AllStars is not that type of launch exclusive. In fact, it laughs in the face of games like that. It sits you down and says “Here’s what you get, a neon-colored combination of Twisted Metal and Fortnite, and you’re gonna like it.” It knows that it’s not the reason you bought a PS5, but it also knows that if you have one, you try it out, and you’ll get hooked all the same. No wonder it was delayed in order to make it free on PlayStation Plus.

Mechanical mayhem

What is Destruction AllStars? Well, on the surface it’s a demolition derby. You pick a character, hop into a car, and start smashing into other cars in order to cause as much carnage as possible.

But that’s just the beginning. Is your car a crash away from being totaled? You can bail and go it on foot, jumping around the arena in hopes of picking up a new car or latching onto the hood of an opponent’s car and trying to jack it from them, GTA style. Or maybe you just want to reach through the window, grab the wheel, and cause them to hurtle into the nearest wall in a fiery wreck. The choice is yours. Of course, they can fight back, even ejecting from the car themselves to fight you man to man.

This simple combination of character-based and car-based mayhem is enough to make Destruction AllStars interesting. What makes it addictive is the plethora of mechanics it takes from other popular competitive multiplayer games like Overwatch.

For example, Destruction AllStars has a roster of unique characters, each with their own unique abilities. The first is a unique car that they can summon after a special bar fills. You can fill this bar by attacking opponents, or by picking up special power-ups on foot, meaning there is actually a valid strategy to ignoring cars altogether and trying to rush to get your special vehicle.

These unique vehicles all have special abilities of their own. Some are fast, some are durable. Some have weapons stapled to the front or sides. You are a much, MUCH bigger threat in your unique vehicle than you are in any random car found around the arena.

Each character also has two ultimate abilities as well, one which they can use on foot and one which they can use in their unique car. Car ultimates do absurd things like attaching three spinning sawblades of death to the front of your vehicle that tears through anything you run into, while character ultimates give you a fighting chance against vehicles while on foot. One, for example, blasts the opponent with soundwaves. Another deals tons of damage to any car you mount.

Modes master

And that’s the basic flow of the game. Rush into the arena. Grab a car. Tear stuff up while managing your special abilities. There are lots of different ways to play, from Carnado, a mode where you earn points, store them in a car, and cash them in by driving into a giant tornado. There’s Stockpile, which is a vehicular version of a “control points” style map from any given FPS. There’s Gridfall, a classic elimination mode where everyone has a limited number of lives and the last driver standing is the winner. Finally, there’s Mayhem which is exactly what it sounds like. Infinite lives, infinite cars, wrack up points by causing destruction and the person with the most points at the end wins.

The game is expertly designed to get you in and playing as quickly as possible, all in the service of hooking you on its addictive gameplay loop. After a brief tutorial, you can hop right into a multiplayer match, get paired up with randos, and be on your way. After every match you’ll earn currency which you can then use to customize your character/car’s appearance and emotes, another model they took straight from Fortnite. Yes, you can dance in your friend’s faces in Destruction AllStars except for this time you are doing it on top of a moving car. 

If you want to, you can treat this as a serious strategic gameplay experience. There are tutorials and training modes for every character in the roster. There’s free training, bot matches, daily challenges, and much more. If you want to be the best Destruction-All Stars driver in the world, you can.

But the thing is, that’s not really what the game is designed for. It’s designed to get picked up, played, and put down, and it can only be designed this way because of the way the PS5 works.

See, one of the PS5’s major new functions is the ability to start and stop games from anywhere. Basically, your games don’t ever have to “close” if you don’t want them to. So let’s say you have been grinding out a particularly difficult boss in Dark Souls. When the frustration gets too much, a press of a button will take you into a Destruction AllStars match with absolutely no load times, no title screen, no waiting whatsoever. In less than a minute you have shifted gears, pun intended, from an ultra-dark ultra-hard action RPG to brightly colored car combat with meme dances. Blow off steam, crash a few cars, and then get back to your game.

Anyone can drive

That’s the genius of Destruction AllStars. It’s so simple to understand, so easy to play, so fast to pick up that it fits nicely into this new slot of a game you play to take a break from your other games. It can only be played that way because it’s a PS5 exclusive. Sony knew what they were doing here. They knew this had to feel not just like a PlayStation game, but like a PS5 game.

And it does. Everything about this feels like it could only be pulled off on PS5, and not just because the load times are so short.

The social experience is enabled because every PS5 controller has a mic. Without even thinking you’ll be barking out strategies to your teammates and they will respond.

The haptic triggers are absolutely perfect for this game. You’ll feel the throttle rumble beneath you as you build up speed while the brake resists you as you drift or slam it into reverse.

Positional rumble also factors into the gameplay. As your car takes damage you can actually feel the janked up insides rattling around.

That’s what’s so fantastic about Destruction AllStars. It’s not just that it’s a fun game. It’s not just that it is a great showcase of the PS5’s tech. It’s that the development team paid an almost obsessive amount of attention to detail. From the way the music changes on the character selection screen to suit every different driver, to the callouts the announcers make during a match, everything comes together to create this solid and enjoyable presentation package that makes you amped for the next game. The look, the sound, the feel, all of it comes together to make you go “one more match.”

There are lots of people who would enjoy Destruction AllStars. Racing fans, multiplayer FPS fans, platformer fans, and anyone who loves the bubble-gum pop aesthetic will love it. But really, everyone who has a PS5 should at least try it. It’s free on PS Plus right now for a reason. Sony wants this game to be in your hands. It’s essentially a bundled title, a perk of merely owning a PS5 and having a PS Plus account. It’s a gift, and it’s a gift you should take advantage of.