If driving fast with spectacular crashes is something that interests you then Onrush wants your attention. Give it your attention and you’ll be hit with high impact, adrenaline fuelled off-road arcade racing.
Onrush is the latest racing game from well renowned publisher Codemasters, specifically recently acquired Evolutions Studios the team behind Motorstorm and Driveclub, but Onrush is like nothing we have seen from these developers or perhaps anyone. Over the weekend (18th-20th of May) Onrush gave drivers a sneak peak of what’s to come with an open beta on both PS4 and XBone. The full game is set to release on the 5th of June. As an avid motorsport fan, and after watching the explosive trailer I (MonkeyMan) launched into it. This article lays out my experiences and opinions of the beta and whether Onrush could be the next big thing in racing.
Jumping into the beta and you are immediately met with… Overwatch? The whole interface and menu experience has a very particular style to it. From the bright colours to the car selection to the xp rewards given after each race it all has a feel which is very similar to a few other recently popular games, most notably Overwatch. Just look at the logo for the countdown game mode.
The similarities aren’t necessarily a bad thing and the game certainly has a great level of polish you would expect from the games it’s drawing inspiration from. The menus are slick, the music and sound effects are great, and before joining a race the team cars thumping down from the sky is super satisfying.
Wait a second did I just say teams? I sure did because one of the main innovations in Onrush is that gameplay is team based. Drivers form a team with 5 others to go head to head against another team in one of the various game modes. In the beta we had access to two modes, the first was all about boosting for as long as possible, the second revolved around driving through gates, all while trying to takedown players from the opposing team to stop them scoring points. It’s a fun dynamic racing around the track, trying to work together with your team mates to take out the opposition and score points. And no doubt the teams aspect would only be enhanced when partying up with friends, something I didn’t get the chance to test in the beta.
Once you’ve selected your car or motorbike and joined are team you are chucked in the race at full speed. A sign of things to come as the racing never slows down, it’s all fast-paced action from start to finished. You’re handed a full bar of boost from the start and encouraged to use it, blasting at high speeds between trees or across the beach. Need more boost? Hit the big jumps scattered throughout the tracks or takedown some of the small neutral cars which are there purely to provide boost when destroyed.
Now you’re driving fast with plenty of boost but that will only get you so far in Onrush. Rather than racing to the finish your racing to score points based on a particular goal. As said above, in the beta that was either getting boost streaks or driving through gates. The game really comes alive when you realise scoring points isn’t the only way to help your team, you can also stop your opponent’s scoring points by taking them out much like you would see in the Burnout series.
Starting out I was super excited to see cars flying of screen as I ploughed through them. As time went on I started to realise the strategic benefit of getting takedowns and started going for them deliberately which is when I started to dislike Onrush. For a game that is built around taking out the opposition it sure is hard to crash into them and cause a takedown. With everyone constantly at full speed boosting along it isn’t easy to catch up and once you do causing a collision is no guarantee of a takedown, in fact frequently I would slam into an opponent going for the takedown only for my car to be the one destroyed. After many failed attempts, including trying out the different cars, I decided to focus my energy instead on scoring points for my team. Without the takedowns the racing doesn’t offer much engagement and eventual I put the controller down and ended my time in the beta. Not before doing a few more sweet barrel rolls though.
I could go on and on about the finer details of the game like specific car attributes, rush mode, the potential for character customisation (I see loot boxes in this games future, you have been warned) but I’ve covered the gist of things now and in the interest of keeping this article from getting bloated I’ll save those discussions for the forums.
Overall Onrush feels like it’s trying to be popular rather than being focused on fun racing. The takedowns are a lot of fun and look spectacular but ultimately wear thin very quickly and leave the races needing something more. It’s a shame because had Onrush hit the racing and crashing sweet spot it could have made for a great game for NZGC community nights. Overall I’m giving Onrush a 7/10. Good but not exactly great.