You're cold, you're alone, there are wolves snapping at your heels and the only escape is down a treacherous mountainside blanketed in snow. But in your head are recently-uncovered ancient secrets. You're Lara Croft, the tomb raider, and this is what life's all about.
Crystal Dynamics breathed some much needed fresh air into the Tomb Raider series when it rebooted gaming's most famous heroine, Lara Croft, back in 2013. The game was stripped back to its roots with greater realism and a focus on survival that was reminiscent of Far Cry. With Rise of the Tomb Raider the studio is building on that success, going bigger and introducing us to a more seasoned Lara.
The game takes us to Siberia. It's a quasi-open world split across several hubs. Each one is riddled with items Lara needs to gather for survival, as well as hidden caves, hideouts and (of course) tombs to explore. Getting through them takes platforming, puzzle-solving and the occasional use of a blunt instrument. Crystal Dynamics has, in particular, really upped the ante with the number of tombs to explore in this one, with challenges that are sure to exercise the old grey matter.
With the open world comes an open approach to combat. Players might opt for a stealthy approach with the bow and arrow, or they might charge in, guns blazing. Sometimes, though, the circumstances might push you out of your comfort zone. While poison arrows are a great way to quietly take down anyways, they won't always be on hand. Crafting bombs, on the other hand, might be a no-brainer...
Rise of the Tomb Raider makes a real adventurer of players, including having them make the tough calls that might mean the difference between survival and death.
With this 20 Year Celebration edition, players get not only the core game, but a raft of additional content too. All the DLC released for the Xbox One and PC versions is available right out of the box, but there are additional goodies too. There's also a new, even tougher 'extreme survivor' mode that ratchets up the difficulty of survivor mode and removes checkpoints, so players have to gather resources to build campfires.
There's also a new online co-op expansion, Endurance mode, that has two players team up in the wilderness to survive the elements by day and fend off dangerous beasts by night, scavenging resources to make sure they have everything they need.
Nixxes Software has chipped in with additions that celebrates Lara over the last 20 years, including a re-envisioned version of the cold-weather outfit and Hailstorm pistol that Lara used in Tomb Raider III and a card pack that allows players to replay the game with five classic Lara models from over the years, including the one that started it all in 1996.
And, perhaps most importantly for PS4 owners, there's the new Blood Ties premium expansion in which players explore Croft Mansion and search it for proof that Lara is the true heir to the Croft fortune. Then as an added bonus, defend it from wave after wave of zombie invaders! To really sweeten the deal, however, those with PlayStation VR will be able to use it to explore the mansion in first-person.