Gravity Rush 2's online servers are scheduled to shut down on January 18, the game's one year anniversary. As a result, new players and longtime fans are rushing to make sure they get every special item and unlock from the game's online modes before they come to an end.
Although Gravity Rush 2 is primarily a single-player game, there are a handful of activities that allow players to indirectly interact with one another and earn a special currency called Dusty Tokens, which allows players to unlock different bonus items.
Challenge Missions are timed battles or races that give players the option to have a ghost of their performance shared with another player to compete against. Players can also collect this currency by uploading pictures they have taken via the game's photo mode and getting other people to rate them.
The online mode also features Treasure Hunts: when players discover treasure chests in the game they can snap a picture of it and upload it for other people to use to hunt treasure for themselves.
Players get whatever is in the treasure chest, ranging from pieces of furniture and new character emotes to talismans that give Kat new abilities and stat bonuses, as well as a number of Dusty Tokens if they decide to upload their own photo. While not central to the game's story or open world exploration, the overall system has helped the small community of players around it connect in their mutual hunt for rare items and accessories.
Treasure hunts, challenges, ranked leaderboards, photo reviewing and Dusty Token rewards will all go away when the servers are taken offline. As that reality has begun to sink in, a small group of players are furiously grinding through the game in order to experience as many of these things as possible and, most importantly, unlock different costumes for the main protagonist, Kat, which won't be available after January 18.
When players discover treasure chests they can take a snapshot of the background and upload it to help other players discover it. Image via YouTube
"I originally bought the game when it came out but put it on the backburner until about two weeks ago because I had remembered that the deadline was coming up," said one of these players, Matthew Cooper, over Discord.
"I went through the game during my Christmas break and put about 20 hours in. At first I was worried about not getting the tokens fast enough as for the first few hours I had played it, I wasn't getting many Treasure Hints or Challenges. It seems like once you get to the second area, they start coming in very quickly."
During the last week and a half, he's put in one to two hours every night into the game, with a portion of that dedicated to grinding for Dusty Tokens. At 10 Tokens you get an Upside-Down Man statue. At 5,000 you get the Shifter 1.0 costume. The last item comes at 6,000 and is a talisman that gives Kat the ability to fly nonstop (normally there's some amount of cooldown involved).
"I wouldn't say I'm a completionist, but I've always been a stickler for customisation in games," said Cooper. "I'm never happy with just one costume in a game and constantly switch between them. I'm a crazy person who has spent a ton of money in Overwatch and Persona 5 simply so I could have every costume in the game if I needed to switch."
Cooper's currently at 4,500 and on pace to hit 6,000 before the servers shut down. He's not really that surprised or disappointed in Sony's decision to remove online support only a year out from the game's release either. "I get it," he said. "Growing up, my dad used to own a game server company, and that's pretty expensive."
— GENZOMAN (@MrGenzoman) January 2, 2018
What does surprise him is that Sony never announced an alternate way for players to get access to these special items going forward, either by patching them into the single-player content or offering them as DLC.
"My friend just bought the game yesterday during the PSN sale and it sucks for him because he likely won't have enough free time to get most of the online-only rewards," Cooper said. And he's not alone, the game's otherwise quiet subreddit and Discord channel have been more actively lately with players asking about the quickest ways to farm tokens.
Other players have been less accepting of this outcome. Miguel, who asked that Kotaku not disclose his last name, runs the fan site Gravity Rush Central and has spent the last few months outlining in detail all of the content that will be locked going forward.
He even started the #DontForgetGravityRush Twitter campaign where people can voice their opposition.
"The reason I started the campaign is simply because myself and plenty of other fans don't want to see Sony take down the online servers so soon," he said in an email. "Even if sales didn't meet expectations, it's not that the online functionality isn't being used." Throughout December he notes there have been thousands of additional players who have joined the game's leaderboard, most likely thanks to PSN sales and the impending January 18 deadline.
"Considering how successful Sony has been recently with the PS4, and the fact that these are asynchronous servers (there's no direct multiplayer), it begs the question if they really can't support their first-party titles for more than a year?" Miguel said. He's afraid the loss of being able to interact through Treasure Hunts and photo reviews will remove an important community element to the game.
The School Uniform 1.0 requires 2,000 Dusty Tokens to unlock and won't be accessible for new players once the game's servers go offline. Image via YouTube
"We're even losing the online leaderboards, even though these are still online for Gravity Rush Remastered. People who buy the game after the servers go offline will never get to experience the game the way it was originally intended."
Servers for old games shut down all the time, just not usually this quickly. Sony Entertainment and Atlus announced in November of last year that Demon's Souls would lose its online support on February 28, but that game came out in 2009. Demon's Souls players also won't be losing access to an item that gives them unlimited stamina.
In addition, it's unclear how the 58 unique items hidden away in treasure chests will work, given how important online Treasure Hunts have been to helping players find them. Searching for where a treasure chest randomly happens to spawn offline can be tedious, with players anecdotally reporting only having come across a few every several hours.
Similarly, Miguel claims to have only found up to 10 outside of Treasure Hunts during his entire time with the game. "There's no indication that Sony intends to patch the game either to increase the spawn rate," he said.
For now at least, the game's online community has been revived as its remaining players frantically try to chase down the rarer rewards. Where some online games go dead after launch and people struggle to find anyone to play with, in Gravity Rush 2 there's currently no shortage of ghosts to race, treasure clues to analyse, and photos to rate. At least for the next few weeks.