Sometimes a game just comes out of nowhere and surprises you. For me, 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot was one of those games; my taste had been soured by Angel of Darkness long ago, which was enough to keep me away from future titles. Still, rave reviews from friends led me to try the reboot, and I found it to be one of the best games I’ve played in years. Today we’re going to talk about the sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is currently an Xbox One exclusive and will remain so until at least next year.
After all that crap went down in the last game, Lara Croft is becoming a little more interested in the supernatural. If you’ve played it, you’re not surprised! Naturally, this means that Lara has grown steadily more obsessed with the legacy of her late father, including his search for immortality. Her own explorations into the subject take her to exotic locals like Syria, but they also attract unwelcome attention from an evil group known as Trinity, so just as in the previous game, this isn’t going to be your average archaeological trip.
The plot is action-packed and visceral, just as we’ve come to expect from the latest iteration of this series. There are plenty of edge-of-your-seat escapes of the sort we’ve come to love from this series. The intense violence in certain scenes might put some players off, however. Lara herself is significantly more hardcore this time around, a point that colors the entire game as her behavior, weapons and skills all suit a more hardened adventurer.
Rise plays much like the first post-reboot Tomb Raider, which is a good thing as that game was fantastic. It’s reminiscent of Uncharted, though I’ve found I prefer Lara’s lighter and more agile movement style over Nathan Drake’s tendency to stick to things. Lara can run around, use her climbing axes to scale walls and traverse the environment with ease. There are new tools like a grapple axe for Bionic Commando style swingery and climbing arrows which do pretty much what you’d expect. You’ve also got a selection of weapons, including the reboot’s iconic longbow, which you’re now able to craft special ammo for on the fly.
The skill tree system from the previous game returns as well, so it’s in your best interest to do all the survivalist stuff you can; shooting animals, finding goodies, completing quests and blasting baddies are all worth experience points. What’s more, the weapons have skill trees of their own, which allow you to enhance various aspects of your shooty bangs to your liking. Rather than upgrading weapons with generic Salvage, this time you’ll need a variety of crafting materials that you’ll find around the game world, which is yet another reason to pillage the environment for all it’s worth.
The plot will last you around 20 hours, and once that’s done you might want to try out the new Expedition mode, which is essentially a set of custom scenarios. That customization aspect comes into play with Expedition Cards, each of which allows you to add a modifier to a scenario such as Big Head mode. You’ll collect the cards through gameplay…but this is 2015, so of course you can just spend more real money on this $60 game to purchase them if you so choose! Yeah.
Anyway, if you overlook the distasteful trend of microtransactions in full-price AAA games, Expeditions are a cute leaderboard style thing that add a little more replay value to a game that already boasts plenty of content. They also replace the previous game’s questionable multiplayer mode, disappointing nobody at all.
Fans of 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot, which likely includes everyone who played it, are going to have a great time with Rise of the Tomb Raider. The only real complaints I have with the game are less about the game itself and more about the state of the games industry today – namely the Xbox One exclusivity and the microtransactions. If we don’t bring those into the mix, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a high-octane adventure that absolutely merits a look.