Destruction AllStars is a game about smashing cars. It’s right there, the first word in the title. It’s also a major milestone for the PS5 — a huge exclusive that’s solely on the next-gen console that isn’t a remake or stretching across generations.
It’s a title that will, by necessity, be used to showcase what kind of games developers can make when given free rein of the PS5’s new features and firepower. But smashing is still the heart of Destruction AllStars: so much so that the seed of the game was a simple idea. “Imagine how awesome we can make damage on PS5,” John McLaughlin, a senior producer at Sony XDev, tells The Verge.
“Imagine how awesome we can make damage on PS5.”
It was a short jump from there to partnering with Lucid Games for development, given the studio’s heritage. Game director Colin Berry had previously worked on Sony’s Wipeout series, while other Lucid members came from other classic car games, like Metropolis Street Racer, Project Gotham Racing, and MotorStorm. “One thing that was for sure was that these guys knew cars,” says McLaughlin. “And then we basically went to those guys with that seed and said ‘We want to do something on PS5, with lots of destruction and cool stuff — what’s your idea, what’s your pitch?’”
The Lucid team returned with a different kind of combat car game. As McLaughlin explains, “They came to us, not so much with Destruction AllStars — the name came later on — but they came with the pitch of a game that featured cars, featured loads of destruction, [and] encouraged destruction. It wasn’t about hiding from the destruction, it was all about smashing and racking as fast as you can, and so on.”
The other goal was to raise the bar for a destruction derby-style game. While older games would cheat at showing damage or debris, hiding behind texture swaps or low-resolution polygons, Destruction AllStars tries to offer a better experience, according to Berry. “Regarding the PlayStation 5 and what we were told about the specs early on, that we could look at doing deformation and damage and the physics in a way that we haven’t done before, and to a level that we haven’t done before. So, the crumpling of the cars, the amount of parts of each car is made up, all of these wrecks, we can really push the bolt on those kinds of things.”
That level of detail in the titular destruction is a big part of why Destruction AllStars is limited to just the PS5 — even when a PS4 port would have opened up the game to more players, a key thing in a game that’s heavily focused on multiplayer modes. A PS4 version just “wouldn’t have performed the same in terms of the damage and the defamation and the physics, actually in the game,” says Berry.
The flip side of that exclusivity, of course, is what happens to Destruction AllStars next. As a free PS5-exclusive title on offer through PlayStation Plus for the next two months, it’ll be virtually guaranteed a huge opening audience, much in the same way that previous PS Plus hits like Rocket League or Fall Guys have achieved. Rocket League went on to become an internet sensation, with massive esports tournaments that are still popular even years after release. Fall Guys, on the other hand, has largely faded into the background, hamstrung by new content that trickled out too slowly to keep most players’ interest after the first few weeks.
“We have a plan, we have a roadmap, not just for the ... launch window of the game, but for the first three, four weeks down the line, for a couple of months down the line, for the next year,” says McLaughlin, with new characters, new game modes, and more all planned for free in the future. “We’ve got a plan on a schedule of content over the coming year that I think is going to keep people entertained and engaged and keep them coming back and wonder what they’re dropping this week, and wonder what they’re dropping next week.”
Destruction AllStars is available as a free download for PlayStation Plus subscribers on the PlayStation 5 for the months of February and March.