When Rise of the Tomb Raider was released on the Xbox One 11 months ago, I was impressed with the direction of where the game was going. The game ultimately had a great story, perfect pacing, and a narrative that can compete with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. For those who only have a PS4, they were left out at the peak of the game’s popularity. Months later, Square Enix finally released Rise of the Tomb Raider on the PS4. This time, it’s packed with all of the DLC and of course, VR support. Almost a year following its release on the Xbox One, it’s time for Lara Croft to shine on the PS4 and I must say that PS4 owners will be pleased that they have waited this long to play it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place a year after the events of the first game. As with all of Lara Croft’s adventures, she sets out in Siberia to search for the Divine Source that is said to contain the secrets of immortality. Through her father’s research, she ventures through many treacherous snowy mountains to find the ancient city of Kitezh that holds the information on what she’s after. Unfortunately, there’s an adversarial group that she has to take care of called Trinity, which happens to be after the Divine Source as well.
Since we’ve seen how Lara was in her younger years in the first Tomb Raider reboot a couple of years ago, Rise of the Tomb Raider will now focus on Lara’s past. Fans can expect to see a lot of flashbacks back when her father was still alive. From the naive treasure hunter she was in the first Tomb Raider, fans will get to see her transformation to a far more experienced hunter as her survival skills in the wild become more refined. What Rise of the Tomb Raider focuses on is her personal story, which is a good thing since we don’t know much of Lara’s origin and this title will expand what the reboot intended to show – more of Lara’s dark past and origins.
Compared to the Xbox One version, not much has changed when it comes to the content. The same exact gameplay remains intact, as well as the story. What changed is that the game now supports VR. For those who have the PlayStation VR, they can explore the Croft Manor through it. Also, all of the previously released DLC, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, Cold Darkness Awakened, and the Endurance mode will be released in the 20 Year Celebration edition. Also, the newly released DLC called Blood Ties will also be included. Pretty much, what PS4 owners are getting is the complete package of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Expect the game, along with all of the DLC to take roughly 20 hours to complete.
Gameplay wise, Rise of the Tomb Raider remains similar to the reboot that was released several years ago. One of the drastic changes that Crystal Dynamics did to the game is the amount of quick time events. Fans who were annoyed with the excessive QTE back then, they are now limited.
Exploration is a big thing in a Tomb Raider game and luckily, there are a lot in this game. Fans will get to explore more dungeons compared to the reboot, as well as solve puzzles. Veteran Tomb Raider fans who have played the previous game before will see that Rise of the Tomb Raider goes back to its roots with its emphasis to dungeon raiding. There’s still gunfights however, though it’s not a lot as the first game.
As for combat, they aren’t improved at all. The combat feels shallow and unpolished just like the first game. There is precision in gunfights but the way the combat is executed is flawed. The good thing is, Rise of the Tomb Raider gives you the option to tackle the mission in a stealthy approach, similar to the first game.
Surviving is a big thing when you are alone in a place like Siberia. Lara will once again rely on her survival skills. Players will be doing the same things she’s been doing in the original game and that’s using her core survival skills. Crafting will be present in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which means you have to scavenge materials as you explore the beautiful scenery of the game.
Since Lara has matured now and and has more experience compared to her last outing in the first game, there are skills that you can do that aren’t available in the first game. The skills available that Lara can use varies from using locking picks, using a knife to cut down ropes or use a bow with two arrows firing at the same time. These skills can be obtained through a variety of ways such as doing side-quests. For the first time, you can now do side-quests given by NPCs in the game. Rewards in doing side-quests vary from skills to items. As for the kind of side-quests, they aren’t quite hard.
Having played the Xbox One and PC versions of Rise of the Tomb Raider, I must say that the PS4 version looks on par with those iterations. The frame rate is solid and there are almost no texture pop ins that I encountered. One of the first things that fans will get to notice right away are the beautiful landscapes where environments are rendered well with detailed textures. The lighting and shadows found in many dungeons and tombs look exceptional. Character models are improved and they depict realism. As always, the voice overs are phenomenal and they utterly give life to the game’s narrative.
Instead of putting back the multiplayer mode that was seen in the reboot, they replaced it with Expeditions, in which you can revisit areas you previously completed and do challenges. There are a total of four different modes in Expedition: Score Attack, Chapter Replay, Chapter Replay Elite, and Remnant Resistance. Think of the Score Attack mode as time trials with a lot of twists that you can implement in the stage. Chapter Replay will allow you to go back to the story and complete the challenges again with modifiers, where the Chapter Reply Elite will allow you to use your skills and items from the campaign while redoing past missions. For Remnant Resistance, you will create a level where you have a list of objectives that you have to do like collecting munitions, eliminate a certain target or recover relics. Out of the four modes, Remnant Resistance is my favorite as it’s quite challenging doing different kind of missions with objectives in place.
For the 20 Year Celebration Edition of Rise of the Tomb Raider, all of the DLC packs pertaining to the Expedition mode are included as well. Which means if you ended up liking the Expedition mode, this version will have lots of cards that you can use to further improve your expedition experience in the game.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is pretty much everything a fan could ask for in honor of the series 20th anniversary. Not only does the story have a thrilling narrative, coupled with beautiful landscapes, the whole experience feels surreal. Something that you can truly enjoy through expedition mode. Needless to say, Rise of the Tomb Raider is back to where it should be and something PlayStation 4 fans should strongly consider.
[Editor’s Note:Rise of the Tomb Raider was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration (PS4) Review,