Destruction AllStars exposes the worst thing about PS5
The vehicular combat game goes overboard with the PS5's new features.
Destruction AllStars has barreled its way onto PlayStation 5. Originally slated as a console launch title before being delayed to February, the vehicular combat game is out now and free to PS Plus subscribers.
There are a lot of fun ideas at play in Destruction AllStars. The multiplayer game features easy-to-pick-up gameplay and satisfying car crashes. Throw in some deep customization, special abilities in the vein of Overwatch, and an excellent sense of style, and you've got all the right ingredients for a free-to-play hit.
Unfortunately, players are running into a big issue that’s put a damper on the game’s launch and it has to do with one of the PS5’s biggest new features.
The problem has to do with the game’s ever-present voice chat feature. When players matchmake into an online game, voice chat is enabled by default. That’s not new for multiplayer games, but there are some especially peculiar decisions happening that make it stand out like a sore thumb.
Since the PS5 DualSense controller has a microphone, that means players’ voices get picked up immediately when entering even if they don’t have an external mic attached. Even weirder, voice chat comes through the DualSense controller’s built-in speaker instead of through a TV. Whenever players begin an online match, the sound of children screaming or unsuspecting players chatting with a roommate in the background come flooding from their hands.
The confusion doesn’t stop there. There’s no way to disable either of these things in the game itself. The options menu doesn’t feature any voice chat controls, which means players are always opted in and can’t change where the chat is coming from. To solve that, players need to pop out of the game by pressing the PlayStation button and muting their microphone at a system-wide level.
Even worse, players can only mute incoming voice chat through the PS5’s card system. A tiny, easily missable bit of text notes that the square button will mute audio. However, that’ll only mute voice chat for the current round. The players have to open the cards and manually mute every single game at the moment.
It’s creating a headache for new players and developer Lucid Games has taken note. The studio tweeted that it was listening to player feedback: “We're aware of issues surrounding voice chat in Destruction AllStars and are hard at work on a fix!”
It’s unclear from that tweet if the voice chat is functioning as originally intended or if it’s simply a bug. Inverse reached out to Sony for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
While this cacophonous feature will be walked back in some form, the confusing functionality does expose some unexpected pitfalls of Sony’s latest console. The PS5 has the most bells and whistles of any console between haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, an innovative card system, and much more. Considering how young the system is, we’ve yet to see how developers will use them. Astro’s Playroom was a convincing tech demo for the system, but games like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales went a more subtle route at launch.
By comparison, Destruction AllStars goes all in. All of the PS5’s features are utilized here, making it feel like a game that was custom built for the system rather than one developed alongside other platforms. There’s a sensory overload happening here with all the moving parts. Both sound effects and chat blare through the DualSense speaker, the adaptive triggers require extra effort to push down, and players have to scramble in and out of PS5 menus to adjust voice chat.
With new hardware technology, there’s always going to be a weird period of software that tries to do as much with it as possible. The early Wii U days were filled with forced two-screen experiences that brought more gimmick than innovation to the system. Even if all of those games didn’t quite land, that kind of experimentation is an important part of the process with new consoles. You can’t expect developers to perfect new tech on their first try.
Destruction AllStars takes a big swing and makes some equally big misses. That’ll hopefully serve as a takeaway for Sony moving forward as it tries to integrate PS5 features into its first-party games in a more graceful manner. It’s better that these mistakes happen on a low-stakes free-to-play game than on a system-seller behemoth Horizon Forbidden West, after all.
Destruction AllStars is now available on PS5, free for PS Plus subscribers.