Hands-on with Rise of the Tomb Raider had us wanting more

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Preview

UPDATED:

Much as we loved describing our experience with Rise of the Tomb Raider, and we encourage you to read what we have to say, a gameplay demonstration couldn’t hurt either.

That’s why we thought we’d include this 10 minute demonstration of Rise of the Tomb Raider for your benefit. The video of which can be found below this first screenshot.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Preview

The footage shows off a number of things worth mentioning, like larger areas with a number of approaches to them, Lara’s battle-hardened disposition, an improved set of gameplay mechanics and more.

Where many accused a lot of the Tomb Raider reboot to steal rather than borrow ideas from the Uncharted series, Rise of the Tomb Raider is its own game entirely.

Unfortunately, the person playing the demo missed a number of opportunities to demonstrate some neat improvements made to the game, but there was still a lot worth seeing.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Preview


Original Story:

Lara Croft is back in her biggest adventure to date, and Rise of the Tomb Raider is looking really good.

After spending an entire afternoon with it at a preview event in London, I’m happy to say that the game looks like a solid sequel, and is likely to be a system seller.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Having started off from the very beginning of the game, following a fairly enjoyable opening cinematic, one thing is clear: the game looks absolutely stunning.

Lara’s facial animations are unbelievable, character (model) movement in general is about as realistic as it gets, and of course, the environments are on point.

It’s hard to describe, but there’s a sense of atmosphere, established by a very noticeable ambiance and some fantastic post-processing and particle effects, that you rarely see, even among the biggest games.

Sadly, I can’t reveal how Lara found herself in this wondrously beautiful place, but I can say that the eye-candy is on mass this time round.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

During my time with Rise of the Tomb Raider, so much happens that it’s hard to explain everything without giving it all away, but I was in shock at the number of improvements and features that were actually missing from the previous Tomb Raider.

I literally had no idea what I was missing until introduced to them.

Stealth, for example, was always there, but this time round it’s a rather major attraction.

Lara relies on it during a number of situations as she can now shimmy up trees onto branches and take down enemies from above.

It feels really important to the game and something that should have been introduced in the initial reboot.

You can now also throw items in the distance to distract enemies and make them seek out the source of the disturbance. This helps break large groups of enemies apart allowing you to go in for a silent takedown.

And trust me, being silent is what you want to be. It makes for a much more engaging experience, but the game never forces you into it and will happily allow you to go in guns blazing.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

This time round, Lara needs to search out resources. Arrows do not grow on trees and Rise of the Tomb Raider will continuously remind you of that.

Searching an area for wood to craft arrows, wildlife to eat for health and even mushrooms to poison the tips of your arrows makes survivability as real as ever.

I’m sure there were tons more to search for as you progress the game, but from where I was, I was constantly looking for small tress and mushrooms.

To make it all a little easier, you can now sprint by clicking in the left analogue stick while moving. This comes in handy when you’re trying to escape Trinity mercenaries, or just a crazed bear that thinks you look delicious.

Getting around is also a lot easier in general as Lara’s movement has been improved, and some new movement options have been added into the mix, like the tree shimmy.

Exploration throughout the game is the primary focus. Optional tombs, puzzles, warehouses, underwater caves (yes, Lara can now swim underwater) and treetops will all wield rewards like scrap and treasures when you find them.

You also get new upgrade coins that you use to upgrade equipment; these can be found scattered around the environment and are vital to improving your weapons, particularly your bow.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

And believe you me, there’s a lot more area to explore. In fact, every environment I came across was noticeably larger.

This means that there is way more exploration required in every area you come across, and when I say exploration I mean it.

This time round, completing a tomb will not just give you a bunch of scrap, but you will earn abilities or exotic weapon parts. There are even NPCs scattered around each location that will give you these blueprints, but first you will need to complete their side quests that they give you.

These range from killing certain animals, finding certain objects, or destroying something in the area ahead.

These blueprints will have certain requirement to them as you will need to gather a few before you can craft them or unlock the ability.

This is probably the game’s most welcome new feature as it urges you to become a stronger Lara Croft by doing what she does best.

Playing the game from start to finish and ignoring the side quests is possible, but completing certain side-objectives will give you new ways to play the game. I was most excited about the chance of getting different variations of my bow.

Actually, rather than sticking with the one you start with, there are multiple types that you can come across by collecting pieces of a blueprint.

Best of all these are more than just distractions or pointless time sinks. You will rarely feel the grind as every side tomb is really fun to complete; the puzzles and their design alone are great.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

One side tomb saw me having to kill an exotic bear, which was really hard by the way. And after dispatching said bear, I was granted access to an area that saw me one step closer to unlocking a new ability.

It compelled me to explore more and take on bigger challenges while I played the game. It not only lets the player unlock new ways to play as Lara, but every weapon has different customisation options that will let you decide how you want it to ultimately function.

One last note, it’s important to know that Lara as a character changes the most in the title, something I did mention earlier on, as she uncovers truths behind her past and how certain people in her life vanished, and how other people helped form who she is today.

Rise of the Tomb Raider not only plays extremely well with a dozen brand new features that improve on every aspect of the game, but the story, well, what I experienced of it, is one of the strongest to date.

I cannot wait to get back into it when I launches in November.


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