It’s difficult to tell how a team-based car combat will turn out. Onrush comes from the ashes of Evolution Studios who were once at the helm of the Motorstorm franchise. Some members of staff joined Codemasters who themselves have some pedigree with racing games. It seems like a good recipe for success but can this really be the case?
There’s a lot to like about Onrush‘s presentation. It’s bright, vibrant and brash. Vehicles and events are introduced with a voiceover that reminds me of The Warriors. It’s all slick and full of character. Animations are exaggerated and playful. Track environments are packed with obstacles and your vehicles carry a tremendous sense of speed. Pumping music happens throughout which, whilst not my cup of tea, works in the game’s favour. There’s an intensity to Onrush’s battles which rarely lets up.
Part of that is due to how the game keeps players together. If you fall behind, you’re spawned back in the pack. There’s a lot of activity in Onrush and it wants mayhem to be always close by. I’ve seen spawns land you directly into trouble, which can be frustrating. It’s rare but rejoining a race to be facing an impending impact with a wall or being taken down by a combatant.
There is a single player component to Onrush. 90 challenges are spread across six tiers of competition. Sadly, they’re nothing bespoke as Superstar mode deals exclusively in bot matches. There are caveats with additional challenges to complete. Usually doing a certain number of things in a match gains you extra points that will unlock further events. It serves as a good introduction to vehicle classes and game modes but has the potential to feel stale. Many early events require your team’s success which can feel a little bit like a dice roll. Reaching MVP status is easy enough to turn the tide but, in some cases, you can feel hopelessly destined for failure. At least events can be retried as you look for more points to unlock further tiers. I also feel the sheer number of challenges are slim. Events may come with one main and one supplementary objective. On top of that, some of them have a persistence to them that requires multiple repeats of the same event. It stifles the campaign’s flow.
I mentioned in my look at the Beta how I’d hoped more game modes could bolster what Onrush has to offer. In the full package, there’s four differing modes you can work through. Overdrive and Countdown remain but now Lockdown and Switch deliver interesting challenges. Lockdown tasks you with capturing a moving point of interest. It’s can be the quickest mode out there. Hold down the point for five seconds and a new one will spawn. It prioritises speed over direct clashes but takedowns in the zone can turn the tide. I do find moments of helplessness when you’re behind the pack and can’t catch up. Wrecks are more punishing in the time-based modes.
Switch takes place within a single marathon round. You begin as bikes and each wreck means you must choose the next vehicle in sequence. You have limited switches and the match ends when all players have expended their opportunities. Self-preservation is the key and it becomes exponentially tougher as the opposition moves into heavier machinery. I still wonder if the game modes are a little thin but, the ones Onrush provides do offer variety.
Vehicles feel like defined classes with support, damage dealers and speed demons covered by an eight-strong selection. The two bikes can ride away from trouble but don’t offer much resistance. Their ultimate sprays a deadly blaze which will deal with anyone in your wake. Dynamo offers boost to teammates whilst others erect blockades and blind opponents. There’s opportunities for tactical selections with some game types calling for more specialised vehicles.
Online works smoothly. You get into matches quickly with any unopened slots taken up by bots. New players drop in and out frequently and, whilst it does dent the team aspect a touch, it helps keep races going. Momentum doesn’t slow and performance is always rewarded with medals. If anything, the rate at which you’re rewarded might start to feel a little shallow, in the long run. Lootboxes arrive for you to open when you level up with persistent statistics also being tracked for further rewards. They’re all cosmetic and no money changes hands but it’s nice to see meters fill.
Cosmetics cover your Crashtags (an identifying banner shown whenever a takedown is made), character clothing, tombstones and gestures. There’s plenty of them which allows ample opportunity to customise your avatar. No money’s spent in this process but it’s definitely a model borrowed heavily from the likes of Overwatch. Stylistically, they’ve managed to skirt the line of homage well.
I was worried my time with the beta would burn me out on this game before rubber met the dirt. Thankfully, the remaining modes have kept me interested. The single-player offering feels a little slender and shallow and serves as training for a compelling online component. Presentation is slick and matchmaking is swift which makes for a roaring experience. I still wonder about Onrush‘s longevity but there’s some depth to uncover with the range of vehicles and modes.
+ Playful, charming presentation.
+ Seamless online integration.
+ Plenty of goals to work towards.
- Wrecks and respawns can sometimes feel unfair.
- Might not offer too much longevity.