After spending some time with ONRUSH’s beta, it seems like it might just be the game we need to shake up the arcade racer genre. But will it have the longevity?
Arcade racers have struggled this generation. If you have an Xbox One, you get the brilliant Forza Horizon 3, but in terms of multi-platform releases, there's a distinct lack. Both Need for Speed titles failed to deliver, and The Crew didn't quite live up to expectations, either. Enter ONRUSH. The latest game from Codemasters, with its new team of ex-Evolution Studios employees – the now-defunct studio behind Motorstorm and Driveclub – goes quite the way further into arcade territory. This isn’t any standard racing game, oh no. In its beta, ONRUSH has shown that winning isn’t just about coming first, but working as a team to win a race on points rather than places.
The Rush and The Vehicles
A large part of ONRUSH is about building up a Rush – a sustained, faster boost that you acquire by boosting and vehicle bonuses. It needs to get to 100% before you can unleash it. Each vehicle’s Rush is unique: the Blade bike, for instance, leaves a trail behind it that will takedown any vehicle, and Titan leaves rectangular walls which slow enemies who drive through them. There are four playable vehicles in the beta, with a fifth unlockable at level 25, but the full game is set to launch with eight. That should be more than sufficient to begin with, but the long-term success of ONRUSH will be down to how much choice the full release gives you.
In the beta the vehicle you’ll see most is the Titan – it’s much easier to takedown other players Burnout-style with this beefy vehicle. Like all of the vehicles, though, it gets Rush bonuses by a specific driving style. In the Titan's case, this means takedowns. Luckily, there are smaller AI vehicles that you can easily takedown, Titanfall-style. The racetrack is a lot busier with these, and it gives players that satisfying feeling of destroying vehicles – a feeling of satisfaction we’ve not properly felt since Burnout Revenge.
2 Rush 2 Modes
ONRUSH’s open beta gives us access to two modes: Countdown and Overdrive. Countdown needs as many players on your team to get through checkpoint gates to keep your team’s timer from running out. Overdrive is a lot more hectic, and points are rewarded for using your boost/Rush as much as possible. With all 12 players (6v6) boosting and Rushing, it gets very busy. You can either play against other players in Quick Play, or offline against AI in Superstar Practice.
Currently of the two modes, Overdrive is my favourite. Both teams being tasked to boost as much as possible means you’re witness to many players veering off to a tree and exploding. (Well, in theory; I was mostly witness to replays of myself crashing into a tree...) There’re enough obstacles to run into or to be pushed into that you have to pay constant attention to where you are, and what’s coming around the next corner. It’s crazy, but in a good way.
The Rush and The Tracks: Codemasters’ Drift
The two available tracks in the beta have yet to get stale despite the fact you circle them over and over again until there is a winning team. Big Dune Beach is the wider of the two, and Volcano Lake is more hectic with its narrower paths and sharper turns. The quality of the modes and the number of tracks we get in the final game will be a make or break for the game, though. The variety on offer will ultimately denote whether ONRUSH is worth its price point, and whether it’ll have longevity online.
On the game’s official website, it shows two extra modes not currently in the beta - Switch and Lockdown. If the two shown off in the beta are the strongest modes, then ONRUSH may struggle to get a big player base. Hopefully, too, the breadth of unlockables will be sufficient in the final game; plenty of vehicle customisation will assist players in picking out their rivals that need some crashing revenge. I do however like the this idea though that the team are looking at multiplayer modes in entirely different genres of games and thinking, “OK, but how do we do this at 100+mph?”
Codemasters’ step out of the simulation and into the arcade racer is certainly showing promise. ONRUSH is extremely fast-paced and entirely about having fun; kind of what the racing genre has been missing. ONRUSH’s beta reveals an arcade racing game where if you ever hit the brakes, you’re doing it wrong. It’s the full-throttle experience this generation of consoles has missed, but we shall have to wait and see if it’s pumped with enough solid content to keep players sticking around online in a racing game turned up to 11, pedal to the metal.