Rise Of The Tomb Raider Is More Of The Same But Whiter, Stealthier And Craftier
Lara Croft is one of gaming’s most recognisable protagonists and in 2013 she finally got a much-needed reboot with a Tomb Raider game that borrowed plenty from the Uncharted series but also stood very firmly on its own feet.
2013’s Tomb Raider provided a great platform upon which the series can rebuild itself but its follow-up, Rise of the Tomb Raider, may be building a shaky structure upon that firm foundation. Rise of the Tomb Raider shot out of the gates with controversy but thankfully the game itself seems to be the least of our worries.
Name: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Genre: Uncharted Jones
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Developers: Crystal Dynamics
Publishers: Square Enix
Release Date: 13 November 2015 (Xbox One, Xbox 360), Q1 2016 (PC), Q4 2016 (PS4)
Let’s just get this out of the way upfront, Rise of the Tomb Raider has a bonkers release schedule thanks to the exclusivity deal that Square Enix struck up with Microsoft. If you look about three lines up you’ll see what I’m on about. It’s utterly insane and makes little to no sense for Square Enix to do.
A little backstory: the prevailing theory is that Square Enix launched into this deal with Microsoft in an attempt to mitigate some of the development costs for Rise of the Tomb Raider since things went rather sideways on Tomb Raider. Despite being one of 2013’s best-selling games, Square Enix only started turning a profit on it nearly a year on.
In short – the whole timed exclusivity deal is bonkers.
Let’s move onto the game proper, yeah?
Rise of the Tomb Raider picks up where Tomb Raider left off. Lara is still dealing with what she went through and experienced on Yamatai. In fact, she’s even seeing a therapist. As one does after a prolonged series of traumatic events.
The game promises to delve deeper into Lara’s character and potentially her psyche as she struggles to find her place in a world she feels no connection to. She is however, more experienced and on the cusp of becoming the legendary badass behind the inflated breasts. In the wake of the events of Tomb Raider, Lara has spent the past year researching eternal life in order to understand and prove what she saw on Yamatai since an organisation called Trinity has been covering the whole thing up since she got back. This eventually leads her on a quest (obviously) to find the mythical city of Kitezh (obviously) in what is now Siberia.
She won’t be alone though as Jonah, who you may remember from the first game, will serve as her trusty
servant sidekick. Little else is known about the game’s plot but one thing that has been confirmed is that it will allow for far bigger and more open environments for players to muck about in. The game will primarily take place in Siberia and Syria. In case you’re unfamiliar with those areas, one is a barren wasteland and the other is Siberia.
Oh and there are actual tombs to actually raid this time!
2013’s Tomb Raider was big on action but low on stealth or tombs or puzzles. That’s all changing. Rise of the Tomb Raider will feature more complex physics-based puzzles as one expects from a globetrotting adventure expedition. Other changes have been made to the combat, movement/ traversal, skills and how salvage will work.
In truth, not a whole lot is functionally different but rather the systems have been tweaked, bolstered and upgraded. The core gameplay in Tomb Raider worked well enough so if it ain’t broke, right?
Once again Lara will have access to a wide array of weapons although I’ll be favouring the bow if it’s all the same to you. Players won’t have to use said weapons though as Lara has been brushing up on her video game melee skills since we last saw her and can now even go so far as to drop attack enemies from above. Now, one thing that no doubt contributed to Lara’s fractured psyche would be the fact that she had to all but kill every enemy she encountered. Mercifully, for her conscience, there will now be a litany of non-lethal approaches to dealing with enemies.
This boosts Lara’s stealth capabilities along with her new-found skills of hiding from enemies as well as from animals. She can also climb trees, hide in foliage and most notably swim. Yes, in her year off from expeditioning Lara learnt to swim. With this comes the ability to hide underwater.
This is some riveting and revolutionary stuff, folks.
Perhaps more intriguingly, Lara’s health will not regenerate and severe injuries will need to be treated with bandages and other such medical paraphernalia. How does one acquire the materials to make such paraphernalia? By salvaging lesser paraphernalia of course. Yes, salvage is back in a big way and rather than being some nebulous collection of junk it will be a slightly less nebulous assortment of junk. Lara will also have to collect specific items for crafting of upgrades and equipment such as animal skins or plants. Clothing will reportedly have an impact on Lara’s stats though it is unclear how this is going to work nor is it clear what additions have been made to Lara’s arsenal.
Not that it will be of much relevance when you’re avoiding combat because you can totally do that now.
Something we do know is that Lara’s skills can be added to in the same three categories as before – Survivor, Brawler and Hunter – with 17 upgrades under each. New additions include the ability to pick locks and perform a “mark and execute” maneuver similar to that seen in Hitman Absolution or, more recently, Batman: Arkham Knight.
Rise of the Tomb Raider will also feature a dynamic weather system complete with day-night cycle. Why is it dynamic? Enemies and animals alike will respond to it. I should mention that I had to strongly fight the urge to make a pun there. Consider yourself spared.
Suspected Selling Points
- 2013’s Tomb Raider rekindled a big fanbase which is eager for a sequel
- Improving on the gameplay of an already very good game and placing greater focus on character development is extremely promising
- No bolt-on multiplayer
- Rise of the Tomb Raider’s timed exclusivity may rub potential buyers up the wrong way
- Gameplay may not have been changed significantly enough to feel different
There’s little to suggest that Rise of the Tomb Raider will not be a good game. At the very least it should match 2013’s Tomb Raider. What could run it into trouble is its bonkers release schedule which has sparked so much controversy. Ultimately, if you’re on PS4 or PC then the timed Xbox exclusivity is something of a boon as those users will serve as guinea pigs and by the time Rise of the Tomb Raider releases on other platforms we will have a clear picture of the game. Not to mention that any necessary patches will already have been added to the game by the time it releases on PS4 and PC.
It’s a safe bet that Rise of the Tomb Raider should please fans and regardless of financial success or failure, it should be well-received by players. Whether it can rise (heh) above the benchmark set by its predecessor or even elevate the series into Uncharted terrority remains to be seen.