E3 2016 – Gravity Rush 2 Hands-On Preview – The Kat Came Back (PS4)

I can’t say for sure, but I think I may have been one of the most loyal advocates of the original Gravity Rush on Vita. Sure, I was aware of the criticisms surrounding it — the combat could be a little nauseating and repetitive at times — but I felt like the concepts, art design and soundtrack came together in a unique way that was well-worth playing. Now that Gravity Rush Remastered has brought all that creativity and whimsy to a system plenty of people actually own (sorry, Vita), I’m hoping there are more fans onboard to see all the effort that Sony Interactive Entertainment has put into making Gravity Rush 2. I got a chance to try out a special E3 preview mission, called “Dangerous Cargo,” and what I’ve seen so far has made me hopeful that the studio is addressing valid criticisms of the original while building an even bigger and more beautiful world than before.

 Gravity Rush 2 01

From what I can see, the most important differences from the original game involve Kat’s moves. This time around, she’s got two additional gravity modes: one that takes after the relatively lighter pull of the Moon (Lunar Style), and one that takes after the much stronger pull of Jupiter (Jupiter Style). The effects of these modes should be pretty obvious if you know anything at all about astronomy and physics; while Lunar Style makes you more floaty, light and maneuverable, Jupiter Style makes you heavier and brings more force to your kicks. The critical thing to note about these gravity styles, though, is the way they address criticisms of the first game’s combat.

Defying Gravity

While the normal gravity field works well enough, shifting and kicking over and over again can be an extremely repetitive and dizzying affair. By swiping up on the touchpad and activating Lunar Style, however, you can tap the square button after kicking to have Kat send out a flurry of follow-up kicks. Since she traps the enemy and homes in automatically during these follow-up attacks, it’s the perfect way to take down those constantly-moving enemies that were an impossible headache in the original. Likewise, the game now also provides a way to take care of multiple foes at once in the form of Jupiter Style, which sends Kat crashing to Earth — and the resulting shockwave will blast away any enemies in sight. Even as someone who didn’t particularly mind all the complaints about the first game’s combat, I couldn’t help but feel like these were extremely necessary improvements.

 Gravity Rush 2 03

Polished and Refined

While the new gravity styles might be the big story, though, Gravity Rush 2 just feels a lot more polished and refined than the previous entry. Producer Nick Accordino, who was on-hand to discuss the game with me during my preview, credits many of these touch-ups to the game being developed for a console with a lot more power (again, sorry, Vita). According to him, the world is two-and-a-half times larger this time around, and that — while the game is for all intents and purposes “finished” at this point — the team is spending a lot of time making sure everything is as close to perfect as it can be. That was evident to me in the way Kat controls this time around, which feels just that little bit more responsive and tight — I think people will feel these differences as soon as they pick up the controller, and we might see even more refinement when the game is released later this year.