Aiming Higher For Rise Of The Tomb Raider 20th Anniversary Edition

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, it’s kind of strange that we don’t have a new game coming out in the Tomb Raider series this year. Rise of the Tomb Raider first released on Xbox One at the end of last year, but “19th anniversary” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, I think you’ll agree.

The infamous timed exclusivity for that game has given Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix an opportunity to celebrate the series alongside the game’s release on PlayStation 4, with Sony’s consoles having long been seen as the series’ home.

Of course, we know full well just how good Rise of the Tomb Raider is, from all the high scoring reviews and critical acclaim it received last year. Just re-releasing this on PS4 wouldn’t be much of a celebration, so Crystal Dynamics have gone quite some way beyond that, bundling all the existing DLC and more into one easy package.

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Blood Ties in particular is a great exploration of Lara and her family. She’s always been a character that has tried to live up to and surpass her own idolised memories of her father, and this gives you an opportunity to explore that while wandering around a version of Croft Manor that has seen better days.

In the wake of his death and Lara’s disappearance, her right to own the estate is brought into question. So you’re walking through, picking up photos, relics, letters and cassette recordings, piecing together clues and solving puzzles as she hunts for the last will and testament of her father.

You can also play this on PlayStation VR, with both a free control mode and what Crystal Dynamics are calling Comfort Mode, which lets you look and teleport to where you want to stand. As Tuffcub found while playing Robinson: The Journey, Lara can occasionally feel disconcertingly short for a 6’5″ man to embody, but there’s something quite special about standing inside the manor and exploring.

It’s just so much more immersive to explore through the darkened halls and rooms as a thunderstorm batters the house, and you face up to the decrepit state it’s in. I can imagine spending far more time playing through Blood Ties like this than when playing in third person on a TV.

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But that’s not all there is to Blood Ties. Lara’s Nightmare almost certainly isn’t the worst thing that could haunt our heroine, but facing off against undead in her own home has its own particular terror. It’s dark and foreboding, as you struggle to survive with what few bullets you have and whatever guns you can find, while also knowing when to fight and when to run away.

This isn’t a horde mode, though. You have to hunt through the building for demonic skulls to destroy, find keys to unlock other wings of the manor, and so on. At the same time, there’s extra challenges that you can aim for, such as getting ten pistol headshots, which can add to the longevity and replay value.

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The same is true of the new Co-op Endurance mode; it’s not a horde mode, but plays around with the modern Tomb Raider gameplay and multiplayer once more. It’s a much more fitting form of multiplayer for the series than 2013 reboot had, it must be said.

It essentially builds on the Endurance mode which was part of the season pass earlier this year, by adding a friend to endure alongside you. You’re dropped into a procedurally generated wintry wilderness and forced to try and survive as many days and nights as possible. With someone there to revive you, things aren’t quite as challenging though, so they’ve also removed the slow motion effect that occurs when you trigger booby traps.

You have to manage your hunger and warmth, hunting for food, building fires and making use of abandoned camps. You also need to worry about predators, be they Trinity’s goons or wolves and bears that fancy a Lara-sized snack. You can find respite in caves and at camp sites, where you can also upgrade your gear as in the main game, but it’s always a balancing act. There’s no food in caves, for example, but you get to stay away from the cold.

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There’s also risk and reward in trying to stay in the wilderness for longer. Once you find the necessary gear, you’ll be able to call in a helicopter to extract you, but those gunning for a high score will have to tough it out well beyond this point. Do you want to aim for the tops of the leaderboards? You’ll have to contend with the elements for that much longer.

It all adds up to an anniversary package that feels much more substantial than the game that was released last year. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a great game to start with, but Crystal Dynamics have worked hard to try and make the Anniversary Edition – or at least its DLC packages – essential for fans.

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5 Comments

  1. Depending on how well fleshed-out the co-op is, I’m tempted to pick this up for Hannypoppie (my other half). This assumes it’s coming to the PC.

  2. The Croft Manor stuff looks interesting but no way in hell am I paying for this game. I’m like Jaws. I don’t sleep, I don’t eat, I never forget. Well, I do eat and sleep but I definitely don’t forget. Actually I think that might have been the Terminator, not Jaws. Anyway…

    Let’s make Crystal Dynamics pay for their treachery and buy the game half price in December. Or rent it and don’t but it at all.

    Cue John Williams’ Jaws theme (or Brad Fiedel’s The Terminator).

    • Original Jaws or the later sequels Jaws?

      Same with da Terminator. Original Arnie at his prime Terminator or old man Arnie Terminator??

  3. Am I right in thinking you get a download code for the last Tomb Raider remastered game too?

  4. I’m more interested in the main story but it sounds like there’s enough extras to keep the disc in my drive for much longer than i might otherwise.

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