ONRUSH is like nothing I’ve played before and yet, it appealed to me more than any other racer I’ve sunk some time into. I’ll admit, this gen, for me at least, racing games haven’t really captivated me as much as they used to. I’ve enjoyed the likes of Forza Motorsport/Horizon as well as some harsher racing games such as Dirt, but nothing has particularly stood out, until now. ONRUSH is a compilation of everything that I enjoy about racing. It’s got the pace, it’s got the personality and more importantly, it’s got chaos.
It’s worth pointing out that ONRUSH isn’t really about the race, as a matter of fact, you can pretty much toss any expectations of racing via position, straight out of the window. Its foundation and structure gives way for a new style of competitive play and I can safely say that it’s got me hooked. In its most basic form, ONRUSH is an off-road arcade racer that sets itself apart from its peers based on its formula alone; speed, takedowns and teamwork. If that’s already piqued your interest, ONRUSH is certainly something you should consider.
Most racing games will acknowledge your skill if you’re out in first place, but ONRUSH couldn’t give a toss if you’re first place or last. Instead, it’s a race of dominance based on your actions, a race that largely consists of teaming up to score more points than your opposing team. This can make the game feel slightly jarring when you’re starting out, but ONRUSH does a good job at explaining the basics of play. Meaning that once you’ve gelled with the fields of play, you’ll either be all in or all out, depending on what you’re looking for.
Two teams will battle it out across four distinct game modes, each of which varies greatly from the other. The key to victory doesn’t just lay with rallying up your own points, but by sabotaging your team’s chances for success. Each vehicle within comes with its own varying stats and a unique Rush ability that can be gradually filled through the use of your boost. The kicker here is that your boost meter will fill whenever you smash AI racers, execute stunt-like jumps, takedown opposing team racers, referred to in-game as ‘Stampede’.
It’s a very simple mechanic to understand and something that feeds into the game’s systems magnificently well. Once the Rush meter is full, players can utilize this second layered function to gain that all important upper-hand, an ability that’s completely unique to each vehicle in both look and ability. ONRUSH’s design choice when it comes to spawning ensures that the action stays at a consistent level, being that whenever you’re taken out, or even trail too far ahead or behind, you’re dropped straight back into the fray at high speed.
This, collectively alongside its basic functionality, makes ONRUSH a constant action-packed battle that never breaks its well set pace. It also ensures that even when you’re performing badly, you still have ample opportunity to do your part for your team. The implementation of vehicle classes (attack, defense, support) also throws an interesting flavor into the mix, giving it that Overwatch-esque vibe. By and large, on paper, ONRUSH shouldn’t really work. The end result however, is one that works extremely well. It’s a mashup truly like no other.
ONRUSH comes with a total of four game modes; Overdrive, Switch, Countdown and Lockdown. Countdown is arguably the most simplistic mode, being that teams will race through checkpoint gates in order to maintain a constantly declining timer. If this timer hits zero, you’re out for the count. Overdrive is penned as a “Boost to Win” mode that sees both teams battling it out to receive the most boost in an attempt to reach a pre-set score limit first. Switch, on the other hand, is an interesting take on the popular elimination mode.
Here, players will be given gradually more capable vehicles for each and every time they’re wiped out. This alone makes for some very tense moments, given that each player that loses a life will come back bigger and stronger than before – and likely with a grudge too. That leaves Lockdown, which serves itself as a King-of-the-Hill mode that tasks you with chasing a zone to relay dominance. ONRUSH does a good job at putting its own spin on each mode and although it’s far from original, I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement within.
There’s also a lengthy campaign to get through too, which typically consists of taking on these modes against the AI. It also makes the campaign a great starting point if you want to test the water before going online. I quite enjoyed the campaign’s steady difficulty curve too, which will suitably rise as you become more of a competent player throughout. There’s also a great deal of additional goodies to unlock through natural play; skins, tricks, tags and so on and so forth, throwing in yet another thick layer of replay value as a result.
As alluded to above, the vehicle classes within helps to define the distinction of each race. These classes vary greatly from one another and come with their sets of pros and cons. It pays off to understand how each class functions, because out in the open, you’ll really need to focus on the abilities of your selected class if you want to help your team. The balance across these classes and vehicles remains very well set and although I tried, I couldn’t find a single one that was overpowered, nor could I find one that I could cheaply exploit.
It shows that the developer has clearly paid close attention to ensure that launch is as trouble free as can be. I’ve no doubt that some will find a way to manipulate the fields of play, but from my own point of view, I have to commend the developer for drawing such a fine line between each class. It doesn’t matter what vehicle you step into, they’re all more than capable of seeing each game through in their own interesting way. It helps that they all handle tremendously well. The controls here are as tight and as response as can be.
Now, how about the elephant in the room? Yes, loot boxes. Now, before you grow too concerned, know that the loot boxes in ONRUSH (known as Gear Crates) only dish up cosmetic items. Most of these can be purchased using in-game credits or via completing pre-set objectives. Gear Crates house the goodies that I referred to above and are not at all invasive, nor to they derail the spirit of the game. ONRUSH comes with a leveling up system too, one that’s shares progression from the multiplayer and single-player offerings within.
Upon each level-up, you’ll be rewarded with one of those Gear Crates – which open up much like those found Overwatch. The aforementioned in-game currency will be earned through progression and by hitting a number of targets. It’s a well struck system in the grand scheme of things and one that gives you the freedom to work towards what you like. The meat of the matter for any racing game worth its salt, however, is that of its track design. To that end, I can only once again sing ONRUSH its well deserved praises on this front.
The tracks in ONRUSH are sensationally well developed and designed. Many of the tracks offer up multiple routes for players to take advantage of, as well as coming with those ever-so-terrifying choke-points that’ll put you on the edge of your seat. The tracks within not only look amazing, but suit the theme and style of the game extraordinarily well. Throw in the fact that there’s twelve players on each track in addition to twelve AI vehicles, and you can vividly imagine the action-packed nature that each event and mode consistently presents.
Sadly, there was the occasion framerate drop here and there, but nothing to write home about. Moving to the visuals and audio, ONRUSH bags another win. The visuals are fantastic and the never-ending effects that pop on screen at a regular pace is nothing short of exhilarating. The same can be said about the loud thunderous tearing of each second, which only bolsters the experience. I dare say it can be “too much” at times in moments where the aggression never seems to stop, but that’s all part and parcel of ONRUSH.
ONRUSH is nothing short of remarkable. Its fast-paced and innovative functionality never buckles under the pressure of its constant action-packed personality. This is unlike any other racer available and manages to effortlessly stand out as a result. Its gameplay systems feed into one another exceptionally well, ultimately producing a robust and distinct experience that comes jam-packed with heaps of replay value.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.