OnRush (PS4)

OnRush emphasizes driving fast. In addition to the regular boost, there’s a special boost that has you going so fast you can barely see what’s in front of you. And yet, despite this focus on speed, OnRush is not a racing game. Your precise goal depends on what mode you’re playing but in most of them, you’re trying to wreck your opponents by bashing into them, landing on top of them, or giving them the slightest tap to send them careening into a solid wall.

OnRush is a lot of fun and proves that the concept of driving fast while not caring about first place can absolutely work. It reminds me of Rocket League in the way I’m always tempted to do just one more match. However, unlike Rocket League, OnRush is a $60 game without the depth offered by competitive Rocket League matches, and that’s assuming you can even fill a squad, such is the dearth of online players.

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OnRush has four modes that serve as excuses for you to lay the beat down on other vehicles. Switch and Overdrive are excellent. Switch sees you starting on a bike with three “lives.” After wrecking the bike, you move onto new classes of vehicle which gradually get slower but heavier. The match is over when every racer on one team has lost all three of their lives. Overdrive sees your team scoring points by boosting for as long as possible to build combos. Both of these modes are a perfect fit for what OnRush does best, namely encouraging the destruction of enemy vehicles.

Given that all the vehicles are driving around a track in the same direction, there won’t be many head-on collisions. Instead, you take enemies out by driving into the side of them or shunting them into a solid object, of which there are many. Some collisions feel a little unfair. Regardless of how much momentum you have, the winner is determined by whoever makes contact with the front of their vehicle. For example, if you try to shunt a vehicle into a tree with the side of your vehicle, you might end up on the losing side if the front of the enemy vehicle makes contact with the side of yours.

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The most satisfying and tactical way to take out enemies is to land on them. Ramps litter the tracks and you have a generous amount of mid-air control that lets you land on unsuspecting foes. Using your boost in the air brings you down quicker, offering up a tactical choice if you see someone on the ground below you or are worried that you be crushed yourself.

The other two modes are Lockdown and Countdown. Lockdown requires you to drive in a particular zone for a few seconds to capture it. This isn’t particularly satisfying as you have to drive slightly slower than normal to stay in the zone, however the challenge of avoiding enemies charging up behind you keeps things interesting. Countdown is dull and the closest OnRush comes to being a normal racing game. You keep the clock running by hitting checkpoints and stopping enemies from doing the same. With everyone trying to stay on the course, Countdown becomes a generic racing game with a couple of boosts and the odd crash. Strangely, the checkpoints become wider after someone has driven through them, meaning that it’s actually advantageous to hang out near the back of the pack.

In addition to the opposing team, the tracks are littered with bots who are easy to take out and provide you with additional boost and build up your rush meter. Once the rush meter hits 100% you can enter rush mode which sees you go ridiculously fast in addition to providing other benefits based on your vehicle type such as blinding enemies in your wake or dropping boost for your teammates.

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OnRush is best when played against real people online, however the difference in my enjoyment between playing against people and the computer wasn’t as vast as I expected. That’s a huge relief because, just six weeks after launch, the servers for OnRush are already dead and I regularly struggle to get full games. Matches against people have that extra level of unpredictability which adds to the excitement and satisfaction that comes with winning. It doesn’t add much of a tactical element, however. OnRush wants each vehicle to be “heroes” in a similar way to Overwatch characters but the need to coordinate with other players isn’t there. With exception of motorcycles, the vehicles all feel far too similar. OnRush is more fun with other players, but it’s not a great team game.

Playing entirely against the computer AI is a little more sterile, but it’s easier to wreck your opponents. It’s rare to take out human enemies with just one hit; usually, you have to follow it up with a second attack or hope they hit something else soon after you’ve weakened their vehicle. Against the computer, you can easily wreck vehicles with one well-timed hit and you get a second to celebrate during a slow motion effect.

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OnRush has a consistent problem that plagues both single and multi-player across all modes. It’s far to easy to crash out of races without any involvement from your opponents. After a wreck, you’ll be racing again in less than ten seconds, but constantly being taken out of the race and thrown back to the vehicle select menu is annoying. These wrecks can happen at any moment and while they are nearly always down to driver error, they are still frustrating. If you mistime a corner and take some minor damage against a wall you get wrecked. If you clip a piece of scenery you can barely see you get wrecked. If you are flipping your vehicle (which is a trick, not an error) and you happen to graze the roof of your car briefly against the ground then you get wrecked. It’s not uncommon to get booted to a menu for a wreck while you are still driving along quite comfortably with no apparent vehicle damage. Every match I’ve played against human opposition suffers from players constantly being taken out of the match due to minor errors which disrupts the entire competition. Wrecking other players is less satisfying when you know they will crash out themselves a few seconds later anyway.

OnRush rewards you with lootboxes every time you level up. There’s also a currency that you can use to buy tags, outfits, vehicle skins, and the like. You can’t buy currency with real-world money at the moment. Neither can you do ranked matches, although a big update has been promised for August. There’s a lot of stuff to play with and customize, but given my lack of attachment to the vehicles, it’s not all that satisfying.

OnRush is a thrill and, appropriately, provides a real adrenaline rush for short play sessions. The lack of depth would have made for a great budget release and perhaps if it had been sold at $20 or $30 it wouldn’t now have empty multiplayer lobbies. As it stands, OnRush is good fun in short bursts and that’s about it.

3/5

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