When Codemasters acquired the talented developers from former Sony studio Evolution Studios in 2016 you just knew their next game was going to be a racing game; both companies practically have motor oil coursing through their veins. What we didn’t expect was that Codemasters (Evo flavour) would throw both the recipe and rulebook out the window with their latest game Onrush. The best way to describe Onrush is that it’s a vehicular combat game whose DNA is an amalgam of Burnout, Motorstorm and Overwatch…and it is awesome. It’s frenetic, it’s chaotic, but most of all it’s fun. The only question is how much fuel it has in the tank.
Smash, bash and crash
There are no podiums in Onrush; no individual glory as such. Instead, racers (either four-wheelers or two-wheelers) are members of one of two teams of six facing off against one another for vehicular glory. In order to be victorious your team must be the first to reach a match’s or race’s objective the required number of times in a best-of series. Objectives include capturing zones (done by having the most number of vehicles in a zone at once), chaining boosts together to score points (boosts are earned by taking out other vehicles, performing tricks and catching some serious airtime), wiping out opponents until they can no longer respawn (kind of like a battle royale mode, every game needs one) and more. While some are more hectic and exciting than others, all of Onrush’s modes are still highly enjoyable.
One of Onrush’s boons is that due to its simple arcade mechanics it’s easily accessible; you don’t need to be a budding race car driver or to be particularly good at racing games to be competitive or to enjoy yourself. A prime example of Onrush’s user-friendliness is that if you fall too far behind the game will automatically teleport you back into the middle of the action. Meaning there’s no lagging behind and merely making up the numbers, and the simplicity of the driving mechanics means you can focus more on being a vehicular wrecking ball, and there’s no better feeling than crushing another opponent. Causing general havoc isn’t hard to do either, and after you’ve used enough boost you’ll be able to unleash the ‘Rush’ on your opponents, which effectively turns your vehicle into a supercharged takedown machine while providing advantages to your team which are specific to your vehicle’s class.
Feel the rush
Online is where the game really flourishes and it’s hard not to turn five matches into twenty due to the sheer addictiveness and fun that Onrush creates
Here is where Onrush’s ingenuity comes to the fore. Each of the eight vehicle classes has its own perks and abilities such as hitting opponents disables their boost, providing a shield for nearby teammates, and earning Rush for near misses. This means that if you and some mates wanted to get tactical you could easily plan your team’s vehicle line-up to suit the different game modes. Additionally, you can switch vehicle classes during matches before respawning, meaning that you can change your tactics on the fly. There’s also a fairly meaty single-player mode too, which will allow players to build their skills on their way to Onrush Superstardom. The only grievance here is that some match types restrict your vehicle choice. Online is where the game really flourishes and it’s hard not to turn five matches into twenty due to the sheer addictiveness and fun that Onrush creates.
Naturally, there’s a customisation system, which allows you to customise your character, profile and vehicle with ‘gear’. Gear is obtained by levelling up, which is done by completing matches and earning XP. Once you hit a new level you’ll receive a loot box, known as a gear crate in-game, with three items inside. The mere mention of the term loot box is enough to have any self-respecting gamer sharpening the pitchfork, but their implementation here isn’t too egregious and the gear you receive isn’t performance enhancing. You can purchase items with in-game currency should you wish (and have enough in the bank), however, Onrush features no microtransactions, so if you don’t have enough in the kitty you’re going to have to compete for that new cosmetic item.
What’s your class of choice?
Show me that gear
Visually, Onrush is a well-oiled machine. With HDR support, maps are full of bright colours and rich detail. Whether you’re speeding through the sunny valleys or the snow-laden roads, Onrush’s impressive particle effects and lighting provide some eye-catching visuals. The game’s audio does a fine job too, with the sound of crashing vehicles and engines revving providing an extra sense of satisfaction, although the game’s soundtrack could have had a few more tracks on it.
Onrush takes the best components of arcade racing and mashes it with the addictive nature of competitive online team-based combat to create one of the best games of the year. Given its online focus there will be questions on how long it can stay in the race, however its addictive chaotic fun should ensure that Codemasters gets decent mileage out of Onrush. As long as they continue to support it with content. Also, for everyone who’s been begging for a new Burnout these past years your wish has finally been granted.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro / Review code supplied by publisher