You don’t see many arcade racers nowadays. MotorStorm and
Burnout were once some of the most acclaimed out there, but it’s been a while
since we’ve had a fresh, unique and original take on the racing genre. However,
the former Evolution Studios development team who created MotorStorm and
DRIVECLUB were shuttered by Sony in 2016 before joining forces with Codemasters
later that year to begin work on a brand-new original racing IP.
The result of that consolidation is ONRUSH – a stylish,
frantic and unique arcade racer that allows players to experiment with
different approaches to how they play and discover the possibilities for
teamplay with endless tactical depth that underpins all the game’s fast-paced
action. ONRUSH is a racing game that’s meant to be played together, be it with
friends or against rivals. It’s also inclusive so players of all skills levels
can enjoy playing together. Because ONRUSH always thrusts you into the action
with its unique and innovative ‘Stampede’
system, it allows everyone to feel competitive when playing.
The Stampede has resulted in ONRUSH breaking
the typical racing tradition in favour of something that’s more accessible,
fun and action-driven. Codemasters Evo, as the team is officially called, were
inspired by classic arcade racers, modern shooters and team sports mechanics
when creating this system and it has led to the game’s focus on unique
objective-based modes that offer depth through evolving gameplay and teamwork.
That means there’s no race to finish in first place, there’s not even a
lap-counter. Instead, ONRUSH is all about cooperating with your teammates to
meet the objective, smash out your opponents, and most of all, to have fun in
ONRUSH features a short tutorial that players are required
to complete before progressing with the game. It does a good job of introducing
you to everything related to the arcade racer without dragging on, including
the basic driving mechanics and boost, the importance of working with your
teammates and taking down opponents, as well as smashing into ‘Fodder,’
which are smaller, bite-sized AI-controlled vehicles that provide an immediate
burst of boost when crashed into.
The tutorial also features an amusing voiceover, who uses
some great lines when guiding you throughout the game. She also explains the
overall mechanics and concepts used in ONRUSH without pausing or interrupting
the action – it leaves a great first impression for Codemasters new racer as
you begin to get to grips with the vehicle handling, boost and of course, RUSH,
which is the last thing you’ll be introduced to in the short 2-minute tutorial.
It’s a cool way to end it, and you’ll have unlocked four Achievements
from just completing it, too! Nice.
With the introductions out the way, you’ll be thrusted
straight onto the main menu where you can access everything ONRUSH has to offer
– whether you want to play, customize your vehicle, or personalize your
character. There’s plenty of shells, outfits, bike tricks and post-game
celebratory emotes which can be unlocked as you play ONRUSH, and these are
rewarded to you via Gear Crates, which are exclusively earned by completing
events, challenges and levelling up. Amusingly, these crates look like Wall-E
and they even have a face on them! If you unlock something you like in a Gear
Crate, such as a rare outfit or vehicle shell, it can be immediately equipped. There’s
also no form of microtransactions in ONRUSH at all, at least not at launch.
Whilst ONRUSH has been built to be an online experience
first and foremost, there is a full campaign mode that offers nearly 100 events
– all of which can be enjoyed with up
to 5 friends in co-op. The ‘Superstar’ campaign is broken down into
multiple series and events, each of which introduce you to the different modes,
vehicles, abilities, maps and conditions in the game. Throughout different
events, you’ll earn medallion stars that’ll unlock each of the game’s six
different chapters. Bonus medals are also rewarded for completing optional
challenges, such as pulling off mid-air stunts on a bike without a crash
landing or taking advantage of the RUSH ability. You can also go back later to
redo these optional challenges to attain 100% completion in the Superstar
There’s also some backstory to all this as well. The whole
concept of ONRUSH began with thrill-seekers who desired more from racing, and
thus, they kicked down the rules that restrict and confine motorsport. There’s
no race to the finish line in ONRUSH. It’s all about being amidst that
high-speed Stampede. Players aren’t penalized for contact or bypassing track
violations. In fact, this is the type of behaviour encouraged in ONRUSH. The
result? The most unique arcade racer in years. In a way, it feels wrong to
describe ONRUSH as “a racing game,” because this is something entirely different.
ONRUSH is a genre in itself. It’s not about the outcome of the events, it’s how
you get there.
The Superstar campaign mode sees you competing against
mutual thrill-seekers who are all after that ‘ONRUSH Founders’ Trophy.’ It’s
extensive and fun, despite the game’s online focus. It shows the overall
attention-to-detail across all aspects of ONRUSH and it has become one of my
favourite ways to enjoy the game. In fact, the Superstar campaign is the best
training ground for online with its competitive AI that’s fun, challenging and
balanced – pushing you to the limit as you advance to more difficult events.
Wins and takedowns still feel rewarding in the Superstar campaign, just like in
online play. There’s also tournaments that chain multiple events and challenges
together, which are addictive, competitive and fun.
ONRUSH has a level of attention-to-detail that makes it
unlike many other titles and it shows from the lush track environments and
addictive game modes to the robust vehicle models. Another aspect that stood-out
and impressed me was the improvements Codemasters Evo has made since the beta last
month. Well, firstly, the beta only was a small taster of the ONRUSH experience
and didn’t do the game justice. It had two maps, two modes, and four vehicles
in comparison to the full game’s whopping twelve maps with dynamic time and
weather conditions, four unique modes, and eight
customizable vehicle classes – all enjoyable in either online play or the
Secondly, the Codemasters Evo team has made several
improvements to the core gameplay since the beta, too. Tweaks to improve the Photo Mode
have been made, the overall vehicle handling feels more refined, the textures
on Xbox One X appear to be more crisp and vibrant, whilst the AI now feels more
balanced and competitive. Knowing that the Codemasters Evo team tinkered around
with ONRUSH and polished these areas before shipping the final product shows
how committed this team truly is. Considering the issues that can often plague
some games at launch, I’m impressed by how refined and completed ONRUSH feels.
The Photo Mode experience in ONRUSH is also one of the best
I’ve used in a game to-date. It doesn’t offer the most number of options or
configurability as seen in other Photo Modes, but it does most of the
heavy-lifting for the player to result in some incredible shots. In fact,
because there’s always carnage and mayhem in ONRUSH, it means there’s always a
perfect photo opportunity. I can guarantee you that every time you open Photo
Mode, you’ll be able to snap one wicked shot. ONRUSH is so dynamic and
surprising, there’s always something new to capture. Plus, the slow-motion
takedowns in offline play look awesome and result in some unmissable photo
Capturing ONRUSH is also incredible because of how much colour
there is. This game oozes HDR, literally. With Photo Mode allowing you to
use different filters that suit you style, you can take some really colourful shots,
as well as close-ups of vehicles thanks to their high-polygonal count and
detailed frames, interiors and paint jobs. It’s quite absurd how much detail
has been applied to the vehicles in ONRUSH, but they look incredible. The same
can be said for all the assets deployed in ONRUSH, too. There’s a lot of
details on show in this game, so it’s no surprise that Codemasters Evo used
photogrammetry to build up its track locations.
The environments feel alive, varied and individually unique
from each other, and were captured using drone data of real-world locations to
create those realistic models and tracks. Be it rocks, forestry, canyons, dams
or beaches, ONRUSH shows true attention to detail across the board. In fact, the
foliage is some of the most highly-detailed and realistic I’ve seen in a game
yet. It’s also fun to use Photo Mode to truly explore how thoroughly-detailed
and expansive each track environment looks, which makes the overall visual
spectacle in live gameplay feel so immersive.
In addition, the campaign mode is broken down into seasons
to increase its overall variety and make the tracks feel even more alive. Flowers
and trees will bloom in Spring and Summer, change colour in Autumn and fade in
Winter. All four seasons have been authentically brought to life in ONRUSH with
a full day and night cycle and true dynamic weather. The sun’s position also
changes throughout races based on the time-of-day and season. It’s all quite
fantastic. These visual features combined with ONRUSH’s unique art-style result
in something that’s absolutely spectacular.
ONRUSH features a total of 12 unique, diverse track
locations that offer tons of replayability when fused with the dynamic
conditions found in the game. They also have multiple routes, stunts and jumps
to provide the player with various ways to tackle them as they take down their opponents.
Snow accumulates on the track and covers rocky terrain as detailed rain
droplets create puddles across the environment. The lighting is also robust, it
looks stunning and shines brightly in HDR with vivid colours and a stunning atmospheric
effect. There’s also thunder and lightning that flares up the sky, whilst
snowstorms and other dynamic weather effects are made dramatic by the game’s
volumetric cloud system to result in some awe-inspiring scenes. It’s amazing. Procedural
damage can also be seen on vehicles, as well as snow and dirt accumulation. The
wheels even create tire marks in the snow and dirt, too.
These visual features aren’t something you’d expect from a
game like ONRUSH, but when you consider that this comes from the talented team
behind DRIVECLUB and MotorStorm, it makes sense. This same level of
attention-to-detail is also applied to the audio in ONRUSH. Detailed sound
effects are combined with an incredible musical style. The upbeat, licensed
extreme sports soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard yet in a game and
combined with the constant action of ONRUSH, there isn’t a dull moment. It’s a
positive soundtrack that keeps you involved in the action. It’s also dynamic as
the music changes when you wreck, respawn into the action, utilize your RUSH
ability, or simply get epic air-time. It makes the audio experience feel fresh,
vivid and interactive.
ONRUSH also eliminates the wait most racing games make you
endure by cutting down on loading times and offering seamless drop-in and
drop-out for co-op with friends and in online matches. The loading screens that
are present do appear quite plain, but that’s understandable when you consider
how the game loads in the vehicles and track assets for each player. It does so
with the aim of quick transitions, so it can quickly rush you into the action.
It works, as loading really doesn’t feel long at all. The online matchmaking
also runs on dedicated servers, and it’s shown by how ridiculously fast the Quick
Play mode thrusts you into an online match. You literally click on it and the
pre-match countdown has already begun! Madness, but in the best kind of way.
Another neat aspect of ONRUSH is its Custom Game experience.
From here, you can tailor the track, mode and difficulty to be exactly how you
want. You can set the season and choose the time of the day, select your game
mode, and invite your friends to join you in the action. You can also adjust
the difficult of AI opponents to make it as easy or as challenging as you
desire, customize the event length, change teams and even speed up time to
progress much quicker than usual. Obviously, the choice of vehicle class is all
yours, so choose wisely. I love the freedom offered in Custom Game since I can
curate the ONRUSH experience to be how I want it to be, but I do wish there was
more configuration of the weather scenario beyond the season select option – which
relies on probability based on the time of year.
Meanwhile, each of the vehicle classes and game modes in
ONRUSH are introduced by a short video that outlines their main abilities and
core objectives. These short bite-sized videos allow you to become aware of the
different traits on each of your vehicles and figure out the best strategies
for the upcoming match. There’s even a section on the main menu for accessing
helpful tips and videos. It’s another nice touch to the game that adds to its
overall accessibility factor. ONRUSH has been designed for gamers of all kinds
and of all ages. Whether you’re young, old, competitive or casual, you’re sure
to become hooked to its engrossing and seamless action-driven carnage.
This is all made even better by the extremely responsive
controls in ONRUSH. Latency delay is kept to a minimum, which makes each
vehicle feel nimble and precise amidst all the action. Whilst accessible, the
overall vehicle handling mechanics allow for over-the-top, risky gameplay
scenarios. The camera also shakes to add to the overall immersion without
causing nauseous effects, whilst the change in audio and slow-motion effect
makes takedowns feel satisfying. There’s also a ‘Wreckcam’ that shows a quick
replay of your demise if you’re wrecked during an event, but this can sometimes
make respawning feel a little lengthy.
To add to its high-impact adrenaline-fuelled off-road arcade
gameplay, ONRUSH runs at a locked 60FPS on the Xbox One X, PS4 Pro, and even
the standard PS4. In fact, users on all three of these systems can choose
different pre-set visual modes. 60FPS will always be the default, where the
game runs at native 1080p resolution on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, and 900p on the
base PS4 model. Players can choose to crank up the resolution if they wish – up
to 4K on both the upgraded systems and 1080p on PS4, with the framerate capping
to 30fps in this specific mode. On the base Xbox One, users are capped to 900p
at 30fps – most likely due to the system’s overall weaker CPU architecture.
However, the real cherry on top comes for those on Xbox One
X. It’s the only console version of ONRUSH to feature textures built for 4K resolution.
Whilst it can hit 4K on the PS4 Pro, the Xbox One X will have highly-detailed
texture assets to go with it. This means environments are brought to life with
crisp, clear details and stunning backdrops. It means Photo Mode captures look incredibly
detailed, vibrant and real. It’s an excellent result, and whether you’re
playing in the 60FPS or 4K resolution mode, you’ll still benefit from the native
4K textures – even in 1080p. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone on the Xbox
One X, regardless of your preference, and another visual triumph for the
The 4K textures on Xbox One X increase the overall file size
of the game by around 10GB, but the result is totally worth it. Having played
ONRUSH on both a standard PS4 console in 1080p and on the Xbox One X in 4K HDR,
I’m honestly blown away by the level of visual fluidity on show in ONRUSH. The
choice between 60FPS or 4K/1080p is also a wonderful addition and having tested
both modes on the Xbox One X and PS4, I can safely assure you that they’re both
of the high-quality standard shown across the rest of ONRUSH. The framerate is
unflinching in either mode on these systems, and the visuals pumped out on both
will undoubtedly immersive you even further into the high-temp thrills and the
spectacular levels of fun and excitement to be had in ONRUSH.
Like the choice between the two visual modes, the different
vehicle classes in ONRUSH are all worth trying out as you rise your way through
the Superstar campaign and make a name for yourself in online play. As
mentioned, the single-player experience will introduce you to the distinct
line-up of vehicle contenders in ONRUSH, and these include the Blade,
Outlaw, Vortex, Charger, Interceptor, Dynamo, Titan and Enforcer, each bringing
their own handling style, abilities and characteristics – including their very
own unique flavour of RUSH.
RUSH is a key aspect when it comes to choosing your vehicle
class ahead of a match. It’s made to be the ultimate manifestation of speed and
strength – an intense and unstoppable power that delivers your best thrills and
takedowns. Some of my most memorable moments in ONRUSH have come from RUSH.
It’s like a huge shot of adrenaline to your game – an incredibly powerful
effect that leaves your opponents weeping! Whether you’re on a rampage to rack
up takedowns or your simply want to protect more vulnerable team-mates, RUSH is
a hit you’ll always crave in this game. Thankfully, it’s easy to obtain as your
RUSH metre fills up by simply using boost!
There’s nothing quite like getting big air on the Blade
motorcycle before smashing right down on an opponent with your RUSH boost. It
feels ridiculously good – and no, I don’t feel any remorse when it happens
either! Not only does each vehicle class have a different flavour of RUSH, but they
also have unique abilities and traits. I love how the Charger gains RUSH by
driving near enemies, whilst the Enforcer can temporarily disable the boost by
hitting opponents and can even earn RUSH from taking down Fodder! The Dynamo
also has a neat ability by dropping boost pick-ups for your team whenever you
use boost, and it can also earn RUSH directly from driving near teammates. The
abilities and traits range from playing competitively to being cooperative with
your teammates – it’s a perfect balance.
The RUSH abilities also differ based on the vehicle class.
The Blade’s unique Firewall effect leaves a destructive trail of scorching fire
behind it – instantly eliminating any opponent who falls in its path. The
Outlaw will drain boost from opponents in range, whilst the Charger can
literally plow through any opponent in its way. The Enforcer’s RUSH effect
blinds opponents who are falling behind the Stampede, whilst the Interceptor
can refill its RUSH gauge with every successful takedown. These unique
approaches to RUSH are combined by its overall benefit – and that’s a short
burst of fiery power that allows you to wreak havoc on your opponents and take
control of the objective. Just remember that everyone also has their own RUSH
Overall, the Blade, Vortex, Dynamo and Enforcer are becoming
my go-to vehicles in ONRUSH, but it’s important to not always stick to the same
type of vehicle class. You might have one or two that you’re always dominant in
but learning the strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle can go a long way to
being fluent with all-things related to ONRUSH. Switch it up and take advantage
of the different abilities and traits that each vehicle class enables.
Whenever you’re taken out by an opponent – or oftentimes in
my case, by slamming into a tree trunk or wall, you can change your vehicle
class for when you respawn if you fancy something a little different. This
ensures the experience remains fresh, dynamic and addictive, and allows you to
use either the class you fancy playing or the one you think that’ll be most
beneficial to your team. ONRUSH will also show which vehicles your teammates
have selected, both pre-match in the lobby screen and during events. On a
slightly different note, it can also be somewhat irritating when you accidently
wreck yourself out repeatedly. It happens.
Vehicles in ONRUSH are also customizable with unique shells
that can not only change the look of their paintjob, but also their bodywork.
These aren’t just aesthetic designs, and those who enjoy ONRUSH the most – or
get lucky in a Gear Crate, will have some of the best, rarest vehicle shells in
the game. There’s no individual performance upgrades or custom tuning, nor are
there benefits that make your vehicle any faster or better. It’s all purely
cosmetic, and this is fantastic because it keeps things fair amongst all
players, and at the end of the day, it isn’t a race to the finish line.
You can also purchase select vehicle shells, character
outfits, bike tricks and celebratory emotes using your in-game credits
accumulated from matches. There’s also a special vendor that offers rare items
on discount for a limited time. Like the vehicles classes, I’ve found myself
switching between different shells and outfits as I unlock them. It’s a nice
touch to the overall progression in ONRUSH and it makes me eager to keep
playing to see what I’ll unlock next. With a total of 12 different characters
offering multiple outfits, not to mention the variety of different vehicle
shells, there’s plenty of customization options. None of it is malicious
either, and there isn’t any feel of it being a grind. Just pure straight up fun
as you work towards unlocking everything.
There’s also two other areas of personalization in ONRUSH as
well – Tombstones and Crashtags. If you’ve been following ONRUSH at all, then you’ll
likely have heard these two words frequently and might be wondering what they
are exactly. Let’s start with Tombstones,
which are objects that either you or an opponent will drop whenever you wreck.
Smashing through them in any game mode will grant you with a free burst of
sweet boost. They also boast unique designs of various animals, emojis, country
flags, objects, and more. In fact, even a member of the ONRUSH community has
had their own custom-designed Tombstone featured in ONRUSH after winning a
Crashtags are animated player-profile cards that display
various symbols, logos and designs inspired by different aspects of ONRUSH,
such as vehicles, characters and campaign levels. They also feature your
Gamertag and ONRUSH Rank. These expand back into the early days of Call of Duty
and have popped up across several franchises ever since. However, if you wish to unlock
these Crashtags, you’ll need to perform certain tasks within the game. When you
first unlock a Crashtag, an additional challenge will need to be completed if
you wish to have it animated. There’s plenty to choose from and lots to unlock,
but many of them will also come through natural progression!
ONRUSH’s unique blend of action-driving and sensational fun
is showcased across its four
unique game modes, which are deployed in both the single-player and online
multiplayer. Overdrive is a pure ‘boost to win’ onslaught and delivers ONRUSH
in its purest form. This mode will most likely be your first taste of the speed
and spectacle to be had in Codemasters’ unique racer as you chain boost for the
biggest impact and bonuses to lead your team to victory.
Countdown is a race through checkpoint-styled gates against
a decreasing clock. This exhilarating mode has become one of my personal
favourites in ONRUSH due to its unpredictability. Hitting gates adds precious
seconds to your team’s ever-decreasing time to keep you and your allies in the
game. The timer for both teams is separate, and the first to have theirs reach
zero will see a round victory for their opponents. Sometimes, the timer between
both teams can be so close, it’s neck-and-neck action as each team tries to
secure as much time as possible by driving through checkpoints. It’s also fun
to take down opponents too, as this will cost them a few seconds of time as
they wait to respawn.
Lockdown is essentially King of the Hill, but ONRUSH-style.
It’s a fight to control a moving zone as you and your team attempt to capture
it. You’ll need to fight for survival and take down opponents to prevent them
from scoring. Every trick in the book is applicable in this mode as you get the
edge on the opposition to stop them from claiming those zones. Oftentimes,
being inside the zone can feel pure chaotic as everyone fights for their place
to capture it for their team. Lockdown is also one of the more fast-paced modes
in ONRUSH as the winning team is the first to claim enough zones, so using your
abilities wisely here is key.
The final mode in ONRUSH is Switch, and as the name says,
this one will see you using increasingly stronger vehicles as you attempt to
survive for as long as possible. It’s like a fast, destructive version of ‘Cat
and Mouse,’ in which both teams start off on bikes – fast, nimble but
vulnerable. Each player has a total of three switches, and the first team to
use up all their switches will see the victory handed to their opponents. There
can be a lot of tense, close finishes in Switch and the battle to take down
opponents who are still clinging onto their switches makes this one of the
staple modes in the game.
All four of these modes have a few things in common. None of
them are a race to the finish line, there’s no lap counter and the traditional
rules of motorsport have been exchanged for the freedom of sensational speed
and reckless driving action. They also track your statistics and highlight them
at the end of each match, including the MVP or accolades such as the most
assists in Overdrive or the most time added in Countdown.
Your stats and notable accomplishments are frequently highlighted
in ONRUSH, and it’s another nice touch to show that winning isn’t exactly
everything in this unique off-road arcade racer. There’s also an in-game chat
emote system that can be used during matches. It’s as unique as it is odd, but
it does allow you to praise and compliment teammates, notify them of when your
RUSH gauge is refilled, and it can even be used to antagonize opponents. It’s a
quick, text-based version of Game Chat that simply uses the d-pad on your
controller whilst participating in events. Those who do use it might find it to
be more beneficial than initially expected.
Overall, the arcade genre has seen nothing quite like
ONRUSH. Its fast, fun and balanced gameplay promotes accessibility, teamwork
and competitive play – and because of that, it’s addictively brilliant. Looking
forward, Codemasters will also introduce ranked competitive multiplayer to
ONRUSH in its first major
post-launch feature update for those who enjoy competing for fame and
glory. Could we potentially see the rise of an esports scene with the latest
Codemasters title? It’s hard to say at this point, but if anything does arise,
sign me up!
ONRUSH has been in development for just over two years now,
and the team behind the title is undeniably talented. It’s delivered some of
the most fun I’ve had in a game in quite a long time – and that applies to both
the single-player and online aspect, as for the first time, I genuinely feel
competitive in multiplayer matches, as if I’m leading my team towards success
in The Stampede. ONRUSH is undoubtedly an exception to the rule, and the result
is just phenomenal.
It feels like a blend of classic racers such as MotorStorm
combined with modern day shooters like Overwatch and Titanfall – all fused
together for the ultimate spectacle of sensational speed and over-the-top
action. ONRUSH’s high-impact, adrenaline-fuelled off-road arcade racing
delivers speed, takedowns and teamwork with high-tempo thrills to create a
racer that focuses on fun, excitement and the spectacular. It’s truly something
special and in a class of its own. With its innovative unique new way to play,
ONRUSH has become my personal favourite new IP this generation. It’s a
masterpiece and a welcomed breath of fresh air in the racing genre.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.