What can I say about Onrush? It’s the spiritual successor to Motorstorm and offers a fast paced, never-ending race of destruction, but for me it’s a lot like Marmite, sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it.
When diving head first into Onrush you’re instantly told that this isn’t like any other racing game by the announcer, and she’s right. There is no finish line in Onrush, you’re not actually racing towards anything at all, instead you and your team are tasked with several challenges depending on which game mode you’re thrust into, all of which have no end in sight.
Now, many have compared Onrush to Overwatch but with cars, and I can kind of see why, but at the same time the two couldn’t be further apart. First of all, the game does offer some sort of single player mode, which feels not unlike the game’s “Quick Play” mode which is where you’ll find most of the action. It also acts as a fairly robust tutorial allowing players to get to grips with the game modes and the different vehicles and the abilities and skills they offer.
Depending on the game mode you’re chucked into entirely depends on which vehicle you choose and for the most part team comp is certainly a key factor – another Overwatch similarity. However, outside of the game’s campaign no one seems to really care about any of this, and this is where the game’s Overwatch comparisons end. Where Overwatch has a pretty decent competitive scene, in Onrush everyone seems to act like a lone wolf.
When diving into Quick Play in Onrush you’ll quickly realise that it’s everyone for themselves as team mates are just as likely to smash you out of the way as the opposing team. There’s actually really no regard for team mates or even working together in Onrush and that’s where the love / hate feeling comes from. Each of the vehicles in the game offer abilities that not only benefit you, but the rest of the team too.
For example, one vehicle’s Rush – a sort of “Ultimate” ability which is achieved by filling up a bar by boosting – will feed the boost of all surrounding vehicles, which is absolutely perfect for the Overdrive game mode which requires players to accumulate and use the most boost / Rush to score combos. But more often than not, a player with that ability won’t try and stick in the Stampede (the collective name for where all of the action takes place), instead they’ll just blast off ahead of the pack which can sometimes be more frustrating than being wrecked by a team mate.
This is where, in my opinion, Onrush might struggle to actually keep players glued to the game. Don’t get me wrong, the overall gameplay is actually fantastic, but we’ll get to that a little later. Considering the game is yet to open its Ranked mode, there’s still plenty in store that I feel players won’t want to stick around and wait for, especially considering some of the game modes can become quite stale after a good hour or so.
You have to hand it to Onrush however as it’s completely breaking the mold set by racing games before it. It’s a competitive game in which players must tactically drive and smash into each other while having an absolute blast doing so. Here’s the thing, there’s no doubt Onrush is fun, there’s nothing quite like blasting in and out of tight spots, smashing through vehicles to gain boost, and smashing an opponent out of the map.
The game also does a lot to actually keep this hectic high-octane gameplay flowing too thanks to the use of rubber banding. And I know what you’re thinking, “how can rubber banding be a positive in a racing game?” Well the way Onrush uses this to its advantage is by keeping the player in amongst the group of players and Fodder vehicles – easy to smash vehicles that, when destroyed, add to the boost meter. When players are either too far behind the Stampede or get too far ahead, they’ll be pulled back into the action. It sounds bizarre, but honestly it really works.
The entry level into Onrush is surprisingly low too, with just a few controls, right trigger to accelerate, left trigger to brake, and A or X to boost and Y or Triangle to rush, and left stick to steer, literally anyone can figure out and get in a game of Onrush and that’s probably what’s so joyous about this game. Sure, you could say the same thing about Forza titles, but in those games there’s a finer level of control available which simply pulling down on the trigger doesn’t really allow for.
In Onrush, you can simply just hold the accelerator and have your way with it. It’s this simplicity that makes the game so enjoyable at times. But for those wanting to really dive deep into the game, they certainly can too. Jumping on a motorcycle for example allows you to pull of tricks in air by pressing X or Square allowing you to gain some boost or Rush depending on your vehicles abilities. There’s also paying attention to vehicle classes which can make for a deeper game.
It’s just a real shame that, like with many other team-based multiplayer games, other players can certainly let you down. That’s why Onrush is definitely better with friends or some sort of voice communication during a match, but finding five willing participants is a chore unto itself.
I know what you’re thinking; “does this guy actually like the game?” and honestly I’m not even sure myself. While the game is absolutely stunning and can often be a joy to play, there were also times where I just couldn’t seem to get on with it, finding myself behind the Stampede with no way of gaining on the pack. Other times I found team mates to impair my gameplay by having total disregard for me or my vehicle. Other times I’d absolutely smash the game, popping off Fodder vehicles left, right, and centre, nailing jumps, and completely obliterating the other team.
But perhaps the highs and lows of Onrush is something that others may find enjoyable, I mean, you can’t win all the time, that’s a given, and this likely says more about my personality than the game itself.
Overall however, Onrush is definitely an achievement of Codemasters’ and its developers and if the game receives plenty of post-launch support both in patches and additional content Onrush could definitely have a long life ahead of it, and I have no doubt that this will be the case, especially seeing how incredible the developer dealt with the Early Access of DiRT: Rally.