Onrush – PS4 Preview

Codemasters upcoming arcade, team-based racer has had an open beta this weekend. I took the opportunity to check out what gets Onrush‘s motor running.

Two modes were on offer for the Beta period. Overdrive acts like the main course with teams focusing on destruction to gather points. First to 10,000 points win each round and the first team to three takes the victory. Smashing fodder gathers points but taking out actual players can really turn the tide. There’s enough time on the clock to influence a match and, whilst the game advertises the teamplay element, this still feels like a game where the individual efforts are praised.

The basic loop of Onrush, regardless of mode, is to drive infinitely with the herd of fellow races and smash the opposition to gain boost. Boosting contributes to your rush meter which, when full, allows you to utilise your special ability. You can then choose to tactically deploy it in an effort to take a couple of the other team out. They have different effects. Vortex delivers troubling turbulence in your wake that disrupts the cars behind and can be used to gain space or force crashes. Blade’s Trailblaze ability launches a fiery stream which can seriously damage and wipe out the opposition. It’s probably my early favourite. They all seem to focus on destruction or disruption but, if I’m honest, they don’t differ too wildly.

It’s very hard to find significant differences between vehicle classes, too. Bikes and ATVs offer nimble alternatives which lend themselves more appropriate for checkpoint races. The Titan is the big brute of the grid. It’s robust but takes longer to get up to speed. The rest of them feel like they’re playing in the same ball park. You wonder what you really lose and gain when you change vehicles.

There are times when they feel disposable. Staying alive is great for gaining medals at the end of a match but wrecks take a few seconds to respawn from. At clutch moments of a round, it can feel like a penalty but, with everyone adding something to the score or the clock, it’s hard to feel you’re letting the side down. Codemasters do try to drum up rivalries when players clash by keeping track. It could be interesting to see what fosters from that. When races conclude, the stat rundown offers more in the way of recognition. Even if you’re not given a shoutout, you go home with more points. It’s encouraging but the team aspect gets slightly left behind. It feels more like a convenience than something you really have to build upon.

As simple as it is, there’s a nice, brainless compulsion to barrelling down an expanse looking for things to destroy. There is always fodder and you’re rarely out of sight of the real players. Action is not far away and there is a breakneck pace to how rounds play out. Falling behind gives you an opportunity to catch up or simply wait to spawn back into the pack.  Tracks are well presented with plenty of obstacles to blow through or avoid. They’re mostly wide enough to give you plenty of space with only the coastal map providing a need for precision. It can be jarring to see the canyon arrive on rotation when the majority of the other locales have room to breathe.

Netcode’s performed pretty well over the four days. I’ve not noticed any lag and you’re usually finding games quickly. At times, it feels very snappy as you move from one match to the next. Waiting for other players can occasionally take a while but, once in a game, it feels smooth. Visuals are bright and polished which bodes well, considering how close the game is to completion.

With the release being less than a fortnight away, I don’t expect any sweeping changes. I hope there’ll be more too what has been a fun, if a little shallow time with the beta. The upcoming release boasts a 90-challenge strong single-player campaign and we can only speculate on what modes and game types can spring out of that. The potential for repetition is very high but I still look forward to seeing what else Onrush has in store when it releases on June 5th.

About Mike

Mike gets all the racing games because he understands that stuff even though he doesn't drive.

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