Onrush is developed by the former staff at Evolution Studios that worked on DriveClub for the PS4. DriveClub was also a pure arcade racing experience that featured gorgeous visuals and tighter controls. After Evolution Studios was disbanded by Sony, most of the staff ended up at Codemasters including the game director of DriveClub, Paul Rustchynsky. Onrush is developed under his direction and seems to carry the same ambition as the original Motor Storm series that launched for the PS3.
Onrush is all about speed and teamwork. The name itself is based on the ‘Rush’ mechanic which lets the player get a speed boost for a limited amount of time. This is a vehicular combat game that relies on teamwork for its gameplay instead of the standard 1 vs. 1 arena combat that gained popularity with Twisted Metal. There are no power-ups that have to be picked but instead, you will have to work together as a team to compete in a set of different objectives. These objective depend on the gameplay mode and there are quite a few of them, but still not enough to keep your interest for a long period of time.
The game offers a limited set of customization for your vehicle and personal avatar. You can unlock more variety of them by getting a gear crate that is rewarded on each level up. They will drop a random set of customization items including new skins for vehicles. I don’t think they are essential to the experience but it is always fun to get a rare skin once in a while.
There are multiple types of vehicles to control in the game, each of which offers a unique set of abilities. You can drive bikes and perform tricks on them to gain boosts. You can also settle on a truck that is helpful when taking down opponents. These also have their special abilities that can be activated if you meet their requirement. Some of them are tied to the rush boost while others are triggered automatically. Outlaw bike type has the ability to trigger a shockwave when you perform a heavy landing, meanwhile, Titan will let you gain more rush boost if you takedown opponents.
Multiplayer experience was mostly great for me. The developers have made it easier for a friend to join your gameplay session anytime and even in the middle of a race. What impressed me was how seamless it all worked without any distraction with menus. You can join a friend or ask them to send you a request to join a session and once you receive it, you will get a prompt informing you that they are requesting to join your party. Pressing the L3 button opens the request and then you can use the dpad to accept or reject their request.
The focus on multiplayer is pretty clear from the get-go since it is possible to experience every gameplay mode with a friend. If you are trying to tackle the single-player mode, which is basically a set of challenges that you have to attempt, you can do it with a friend as well. The lack of gameplay modes is what makes the single-player experience rather repetitive. The maps are great and they have a lot of variety along with the ability to change the time of day or weather, but they are still not enough to keep playing for a long time. This is why Onrush feels best for short multiplayer sessions.
There are 4 competitive modes in Onrush that can be attempted either solo or with online multiplayer and they are Switch, Lockdown, Overdrive, and Countdown. As I have said before, Onrush relies on teamwork instead of the performance of a single player. I felt like the game was a modern take on the competitive shooter formula with first-person shooting replaced by vehicular combat. I don’t think this has been done before in any other racing game but again I haven’t played enough of them to have a better idea.
Digging deeper into the competitive modes offered by Onrush, I had a great time with Overdrive and Countdown, both of which rely on your skills with boosting, and knowing the level design for shortcuts or jumps to increase your boost. Overdrive is all about boosting as much as you can to gain points. It is simple to understand because it essentially requires you to keep the boost button pressed while making sure to take any jump that you can since they end up providing a small boost. There is a scoring chain that keeps increasing along with your boost and ends as soon as you are done with it. Of course, there are various tricks to keep it going for a long time and you can also end up using the ‘Rush’ boost once you have a full meter. The score that you accumulate along with other teammates is shown at the top of the screen and there is usually a target to hit with the team that hits the target first claiming the victory.
Countdown is about hitting a set of checkpoints that keep adding a few seconds to your team’s timer. In this mode, the player will have to be not only faster, they also need to make sure that they don’t miss out on any checkpoints along the way. Teamwork is the key here because if you are the only one who is hitting checkpoints, it will be easy to fall behind the opponent. What I liked about this mode was the sense of thrill it provided especially if you are close to a draw and the end of the game round starts with the clock ticking down.
My least favorite mode was Switch. This mode is about takedowns and this is something that I always had trouble hitting in with Onrush. It is easy to do takedowns on a computer controlled opponent but when it comes to human players, takedowns can be a little tricky to perform. Switch mode will revolve around this mechanic and requires you to takedown the opposing team which will then ‘switch’ their vehicle to a different type and this continues until there are no more vehicles to switch. The team that manages to accomplish this task will be the winner of this mode.
Lockdown is a twist on the King of the Hill style mode. There are no checkpoints to hit here but instead, you will have to keep following a floating zone that enlarges after a set amount of time. Teamwork is essential to victory in this mode because controlling the zone depends on the number of players from a team. Once you are in control of a zone, you have to keep inside for a set amount of time in order to claim it. If the opponent manages to enter the zone, they will have to be taken down otherwise it is possible to lose control of the zone. The team with the most points at the end of the round is considered the winner.
Visually, Onrush is a great looking game. There is HDR support included with it which wasn’t really that impressive to me, but the game has some great looking post-processing effects and runs at 60 fps on top of it. If you are playing on the PS4 Pro, it is possible to settle on prioritizing frame rate or resolution, and honestly, after playing it with a higher frame rate, it is hard to go with a higher resolution.
Onrush Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Onrush is a vehicular combat game developed by Codemasters and published by Deep Silver for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
Onrush is an exciting new direction and a refreshing change of pace for a racing game that is built on top of teamwork. It has some great competitive modes and a promising multiplayer support, but the lack of gameplay variety can affect its long-term appeal.