Hands-on with Rise of the Tomb Raider


Ever since 2013’s successful, gritty reboot of Tomb Raider, fans have eagerly been looking forward to a sequel. First announced at Microsoft’s E3 2014 conference, Rise of the Tomb Raider continues the story of Lara Croft by taking her to new depths in search of more adventure. It was playable at rAge 2015, and I got a chance to see what it’s like.

The rAge demo started with a cinematic showing Lara and another character driving out into a desert. Unfortunately, given the frantic nature of playing a game in a huge dome packed with thousands of people, most of the demo’s storyline was entirely lost on me. It quickly unfolds that Lara is raiding a tomb trying to reveal secrets relating to a secret organisation called Trinity.

The game feels mostly identical to Tomb Raider (2013). Lara jogs, dodges and jumps with a realistic sense of weight and momentum, and her body, clothes and hair are spectacularly animated. The graphics are gorgeous, taking full advantage of the Xbox One. The demo showed off a small, linear slice of the game, and it didn’t feature animals, crafting, the day-night cycle or the promised weather system. Instead, it allowed expo-goers to experiment with some light platforming, exploration and puzzle solving.

The level in the demo was packed with minute details, secret areas and tons of loot. There were numerous paintings and collectibles that revealed some backstory, and these sorts of things will clearly offer good incentive to explore every nook and cranny. Puzzles in the demo were mostly water-based and saw Lara smashing walls with her now iconic pickaxe to allow certain regions to flood. Raising the water level allowed players to reach goals, or grab previously out-of-reach handholds.

None of the puzzles were truly complicated, and they all slightly built upon what the previous puzzle taught. The irony that Lara Croft is irreparably destroying these ancient tombs with water was not lost on me, and it’s funny that she’s so comfortable with ruining further archaeological expeditions into these locations. The demo ended with a brief gunfight against armed mercenaries, a fight which strongly brought to mind the Uncharted franchise. Check out the below video, in which Polygon explored the same demo location.

If you loved Tomb Raider, all signs point to the fact that you’ll love this. Lara has further evolved into the self-confident badass of earlier games, and there are many more features to come in the final game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed Xbox One exclusive and launches on November 13th, 2015. The PC version is expected early 2016 and the PS4 version in the fourth quarter of 2016.

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