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Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider and the eleventh entry in the main Tomb Raider series. The game was released by Microsoft Studios for Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2015. Square Enix released the game for Windows and PlayStation 4 in 2016.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider.jpg
Cover art featuring protagonist Lara Croft
Developer(s) Crystal Dynamics
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Square Enix (PS4, PC)
Director(s)
  • Noah Hughes
  • Brian Horton
Producer(s) Rose Hunt
Designer(s)
  • Jason Botta
  • Michael Brinker
Programmer(s)
  • Scott Krotz
  • Steve Austin
Artist(s) Brenoch Adams
Writer(s) Rhianna Pratchett
Composer(s) Bobby Tahouri
Series Tomb Raider
Platform(s)
Release
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

The game's story follows Lara Croft as she ventures into Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh, whilst battling a paramilitary organization called "Trinity" that intends on beating her to the city's promise of immortality. Lara needs to transverse the environment and combat enemies using firearms and stealth as she explores several semi-open hubs. In these hubs, she can raid challenge tombs to unlock new rewards, complete side-missions and scavenge for resources, which can then be used for crafting useful materials.

Development of Rise of the Tomb Raider began as the development of the 2013 reboot wrapped up. The development team listened to players' feedback and made several improvements, such as reducing the number of quick time events and introducing more puzzles and challenge tombs. The team also organized trips to several locations in Turkey including Cappadocia, Istanbul, and Ephesus when creating the team's vision for their designs of Kitezh. Camilla Luddington returned to provide voice and motion capture work for Lara. Powered by an engine named Foundation, the game was also worked on by other developers, including Eidos Montreal and Nixxes Software.

The game was announced at E3 2014 by Microsoft Studios. It was revealed as a timed exclusive for Microsoft at Gamescom 2014, which sparked players outrage and widespread criticism from gaming press and community. Upon release, Rise of the Tomb Raider was critically acclaimed, with critics praising its graphics, gameplay, and characterization, though some felt that it did not take enough risks. As of November 2017, the game has sold nearly 7 million copies. Additional content was released, including a story campaign and several gameplay modes. A sequel, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, will be released in September 2018.

Contents

GameplayEdit

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a third-person action-adventure game in which players control Lara Croft, who is on a quest to pursue the legendary city of Kitezh. Combat plays a big part in Rise of the Tomb Raider, with Lara having a large arsenal of weapons at her disposal, including assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols, some of which have an alternate mode of firing.[1] Players can also utilize stealth in order to achieve their goal. For instance, they can use bows and arrows to silently take out enemies or create distractions which would draw enemies' attention away from Lara. Lara can also hide in bushes to evade from enemies without drawing their notice. Lara has the capability to use the environment to fight enemies, such as shooting explosive barrels, using rope arrows to destroy certain structures, or kill an enemy by ambushing them from high ground.[2] In addition, Lara can use her pickaxe and combat knife to engage in melee combat with enemies.[3] Completing objectives and side content and eliminating enemies grant players with experience points (XP). When players reach a sufficient amount of XP, they will level up, in which a Skill Point will be given for players to spend at the base camp. These skill points can be spent on the game's three skill trees: Combat, Brawler and Survivor.[1] Combat enhances Lara's efficiency with weapons, granting her abilities such as retrieving arrow from corpses and steady aiming. Brawler boosts her resilience against enemies' attacks and unlocks new combat skills such as dodge kill. Survivor covers a wide range of skills ranging from creating incendiary bombs to making booby traps.[4] By unlocking these skills, Lara became more competent in her quest in different fronts. Throughout the game, Lara will learn new languages, which would enable her to discover relics like coins that can be traded to purchase new equipment.[5]

 
Protagonist Lara Croft discovers and explores one of the game's challenge tombs featuring an ice ship.

Rise of the Tomb Raider features semi-open hubs which are free for players to explore. In these hubs, there are numerous items for Lara to collect, including crafting materials and survival caches. These useful items, along with collectibles like relics and documents, can be revealed to players using "Survivor Instinct", a mechanic which highlights all items of interest.[1] By collecting these materials, players can craft any items at will even during combat. For instance, Lara can craft ammo, poison arrows using death cap mushrooms, and molotovs and hand grenades from cans and bottles.[6] These open areas are filled with natural wildlife, which can be hunted to collect more resources.[1] There are also challenge tombs for players to discover and explore. Exploring these tombs grant players new items like new skills and outfits. Lara's outfit, which affects her combat performance, can be changed at base camps found in the world.[1] These base camps also allow Lara to change her weapon loadouts,[1] and serve as fast travel points that allow players to explore previously searched area.[7] The game also features numerous side missions and challenges, which sometimes grant players new equipment.[8][9] The game often involves intricate environments that players must navigate in order to progress. She can use her pickaxe to climb certain cliff surfaces such as glaciers,[10] and her rope arrows to create ziplines[11] in order to assess areas that are difficult to reach.[6] Lara also has an extended suite of movement options, with her being able to climb trees and swim.[12] Players also need to solve various puzzles in the game in both the main campaign and the optional content. These puzzles are often based on physics,[13] and that multiple puzzles are connected with each other, meaning players need to solve all of them before they can solve the overall puzzle.[12]

Unlike the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider does not feature any multiplayer. However, it introduces "Expeditions", which allow players to replay the game but with new constraints and requirements. There are four modes, namely Chapter Replay, Chapter Replay Elite, Score Attack or Remnant Resistance. Chapter Replay and Chapter Replay Elite allow players to replay any level, though Elite allows players to carry their skills and weapons already unlocked into the level. Score Attack introduces score combo chains to the game.[14] Remnant Resistance allows players to create custom scenarios, which can then be shared with other players. By completing Expeditions, players earn credits which can then be used to purchase collectible cards. These cards act as modifiers to gameplay.[6] Common cards are only for one-off use while foil cards can be used repeatedly. These cards can also be purchased with real-life currency via microtransactions.[15]

PlotEdit

One year after the events of Tomb Raider, archaeologist Lara Croft is struggling to explain her experience of the supernatural on Yamatai and suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. Looking for answers, she turns to her late father's research into the lost city of Kitezh and the promise of immortality. Her father's partner Ana attempts to warn her off as his obsession with Kitezh drove him to ruin and suicide. Lara ignores her and organises an expedition to Syria, hoping to uncover the tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople, a key figure in the legend of Kitezh. Although successful, the tomb is empty, and Lara is interrupted by Trinity—an ancient order of knights that now exists as a paramilitary organization investigating the supernatural—and their leader Konstantin. As she flees, Lara discovers a symbol etched into the tomb that she links to a book on Russian religious history in her father's study back at the Croft manor. A Trinity assassin infiltrates the manor and steals the book, prompting Lara and her friend Jonah to go to Siberia, which they believe has connection with the symbol. The two are separated after an avalanche while climbing a mountain and Lara is forced to continue alone.

Lara discovers that Trinity has taken over a Soviet-era mining installation as a base of operations in the search for Kitezh. She is caught attempting to retrieve the book and placed in a prison cell with Ana. Konstantin forces Lara to reveal what she knows by slowly strangling Ana in front of her, but Lara is unable to tell anything of use. Ana then reveals herself to be Trinity's spy who had been manipulating her father. The two interrogate her as to the whereabouts of the "Divine Source", an artifact believed to grant immortality. Lara escapes, and in the process aids Jacob, a stranger who leads her through the mines after Lara agrees to aid Jacob and his people in fighting Trinity. Jacob is revealed to be the leader of the Remnant, the descendants of the Prophet's followers. He also warns Lara that the Divine Source is not what she expects it to be.

Konstantin's forces repeatedly attack the Remnant, justifying the slaughter as God's will. However, Lara discovers that Ana is dying and seeks the Divine Source to save herself. Jacob and Lara decide that the only way to protect the Divine Source is to retrieve it before Trinity can. In order to do this, Lara recovers the Atlas, an artifact that serves as a map of Kitezh. She is reunited with Jonah, who has been spying on Trinity forces, and they locate the path into the city. However, Konstantin had been aware of Jonah's presence and followed him hoping that Jonah would lead him to Lara. Trinity ambushes them and takes the Atlas, stabbing Jonah in the process. Lara takes Jonah to Jacob, who miraculously heals Jonah, revealing that he is the Prophet and the Divine Source granted him immortality.

With Trinity advancing on the glacier that rests over Kitezh, Lara is forced to enter the city through a dangerous path where she encounters the Deathless Ones, the immortal guardians of the city. Following the journals of a Trinity agent, Lara realizes the truth of Jacob's warning: that the Divine Source grants immortality to the person who beholds it at the cost of their sense of self. The Remnant attack the Deathless Ones, giving Lara time to reach the heart of the city. She encounters Konstantin who is blocking the path and critically wounds him. Before his death, he claims that Lara's father did not commit suicide, but was in fact murdered by Trinity. Lara is too late to stop Ana from retrieving the Divine Source. Ana is overwhelmed by its power, giving Lara a chance to destroy it. The Deathless Ones perish and Jacob's immortality is lost. However, he is happy that his death has finally come and thanks Lara for bringing his end as he peacefully disintegrates.

In the aftermath, Jacob's daughter Sofia takes over the Remnant. Jonah recovers from his wounds and joins Lara in planning their next expedition, with Lara vowing to investigate more of the world's mysteries as well as thwart Trinity's plans. In a post credit scene, two weeks before Lara and Jonah left Siberia, Lara confronts Ana about whether she killed her father. Ana denies it, despite admitting that Trinity gave her the order. Before she can reveal anything else, a sniper shot hits Ana, killing her instantly. The sniper then asks his unseen superior about killing Lara, but is told to stand down for the time being.

Baba Yaga: The Temple of the WitchEdit

The Baba Yaga downloadable content sees Lara investigating a disturbance within the Soviet mining facility. After fighting off a Trinity patrol, she discovers a young girl named Nadia hiding in a sawmill. Nadia confides in Lara, recounting her search for her grandfather, Ivan. Ivan has disappeared while trying to enter the Wicked Vale, a valley rumoured to be haunted by Baba Yaga, a witch from Slavic folklore. Ivan blames the witch for the death of his wife and seeks to kill her. Lara is skeptical of Baba Yaga's existence, but as Nadia is injured, she agrees to enter the Wicked Vale and locate Ivan.

Once in the Vale, Lara is exposed to a rare pollen with potent hallucinogenic properties. After stumbling through a forest, tormented by visions of her father's suicide, she encounters Baba Yaga and a pack of demonic wolves. Lara narrowly escapes with her life and finds herself in a small Soviet-era outpost. There she unearths evidence of a secret Soviet biological weapons project that attempted to harness the pollen as a weapon; however, the project came to an abrupt end after the researchers—including Serafima, a biochemist imprisoned in a nearby gulag—succumbed to the hallucinations.

Realising that Serafima resented her captors, Lara correctly deduces that she had successfully weaponised the pollen and developed an antidote and kept her research secret from the military. With Nadia's help, Lara synthesises a rudimentary antidote from Serafima's recipe and returns to the Wicked Vale. Resisting the effects of the pollen, Lara finds Ivan injured at the entrance to Baba Yaga's lair.

Unable to leave the Wicked Vale so long as Baba Yaga continues to control it, Lara ventures on to confront the witch and is forced to battle Baba Yaga under the effects of the pollen. Lara prevails, destroying the source of the weaponised pollen. Baba Yaga is revealed to be Serafima, who was led to believe that her husband, Ivan, along with their daughter was dead, and so used the pollen to become Baba Yaga and torment her captors in revenge. With Ivan, Serafima and Nadia reunited, Lara leaves the Wicked Vale.

Cold Darkness AwakenedEdit

The Cold Darkness Awakened content sees Lara enter a decommissioned Soviet weapons bunker that has been breached by a Trinity patrol. Trinity have inadvertently released an unstable pathogen into the air, which causes the people it infects to regress to a zombie-like state. Men are particularly vulnerable as the virus stimulates testosterone and adrenaline production. The pathogen was created by a Soviet researcher with the intention of creating an army of unstoppable super-soldiers, but all of his experiments ended in failure. Following an accident that released the pathogen, he died in the facility, proud that he had at least created a weapon to protect his homeland. With Sofia and Nadia providing support from a helicopter, Lara attempts to find the source of the pathogen before an enormous cloud is released into the atmosphere and contaminates the Remnant valley.

The three women hatch a plan to channel the pathogen from three towers into the central tower, and cause it to explode, which will hopefully burn off the toxin. Lara shuts down each tower while collecting equipment, rescuing female prisoners and eliminating waves of the infected Trinity soldiers, and finally enters the core tower. While fighting off the infected soldiers, she triggers a catastrophic explosion and jumps from the tower to Nadia and Sofia's helicopter. Nadia and Lara watch the explosion as they fly to safety. Although the resulting fire burns the remaining reserves of the pathogen, documents found throughout the facility reveal that the release was no accident; Trinity reactivated the facility to acquire a sample of the pathogen, and an agent of Trinity escaped with it before the bunker was destroyed.

Blood Ties and Lara's NightmareEdit

Blood Ties begins with Lara reading a note from her uncle, who claims that since her mother went missing, leaving the manor in his care, he is the rightful owner of the Croft Estate. With trees working their way into the side of the manor and the roof caving in, Lara's childhood home is in desperate need of repair. She finds her father's safe and searches the manor for the clues for the safe combination, hoping to find his will proving her ownership inside. She roams around the manor, coming across various artifacts from her past, some of which she has never seen before, and finally figures out the safe combination. However, she finds no proof of her ownership inside the safe. She continues to search through the Manor among the hallways, bedrooms, studies, and the basement, eventually finding her mother's tomb underneath the grand staircase, a proof of her mother's death. With both of Lara's parents proven dead, all her parents' properties are passed on to her by law, successfully proving that Lara is the rightful owner of the Manor and moves back in.

In Lara's Nightmare the sequence begins similarly to Blood Ties, but instead Lara's uncle is unwilling to give her the Manor. She fights off hordes of zombies and skulls before finding the Master Key. Finally, she kills the large skull in the main hallway, successfully ending her nightmare.

DevelopmentEdit

The game was developed by Crystal Dynamics with Eidos Montreal providing additional development support.[16] Development of the game began two weeks after the team finished polishing the 2013 reboot.[17] The game's development was led by Noah Hughes and Brian Horton, who served as the franchise creative director and game director respectively.[18] Rhianna Pratchett returned as the game's writer,[19] and Camilla Luddington reprised her role as protagonist Lara Croft. Bobby Tahouri, most known for his work on Game of Thrones, composed the game's original soundtracks.[20] Development of the game was completed on 9 October 2015, with Crystal Dynamics confirming that the game had been declared gold, indicating it was being prepared for duplication and release.[21]

Story and gameplayEdit

"When we think about what Lara's gone through, she's suffered through these traumatic events, seen friends die, and come out of the situation forever changed. [...] What she needs is a way to reconcile the pain that she has suffered and also the draw that she has, this compulsion, to discover more of these things now that she's just glimpsed them on Yamatai."

— Brian Horton, game director of the game on the state of Lara after the 2013 reboot

One of the intentions for developing the game was to craft a more "personal" experience for players. The team wanted to explore the journey in which Croft finds her way to become the tomb raider. At the end of the 2013 reboot, Lara becomes more determined to uncover more myths and convinces the world that they are real. This would become her major driving force in the sequel.[22][18] Lara still has to struggle for survival, but she was more confident and competent. The team attempted to find a balance to make Lara more experienced and competent, but still vulnerable when facing high stakes so as to make her relatable to players.[23] The team hoped that through the story, players can witness discernible character progression for Lara.[24] To show that Lara is hungry for knowledge and answers, the team introduced gameplay adjustments to the collectibles, in which players would learn a new language during the game which would then unlock new content and upgrades.[17] The new crafting system also reflected that Lara was a resourceful person, while Lara's being able to use the environment against her enemies highlights her intelligence.[25]

Pratchett found the story of Rise of the Tomb Raider more difficult to write than the 2013 reboot, and that she spent a lot of time figuring out Lara's initial mental state and character introduction. The cast of characters featured in the game was significantly smaller than the reboot so that more screen time and progression could be given to each individual character.[26] To help establish the tone and visuals of the entire game, Crystal Dynamics developed a "rippomatic", which was a collection of movie scenes. These films included Rambo: First Blood Part II, which brinstormed the team regarding the game's stealth mechanic; Terminator 2: Judgment Day, whose protagonist Sarah Connor and Lara Croft are both "burdened with a truth that no one believes"; The Edge and The Grey inspired scenes in the game in which Lara fought against Siberian wildlife like bears and wolves; Hanna and The Descent inspired some of the game's weapons like bows and arrows and pickaxe; Aliens vs. Predator and The Day After Tomorrow helped the team conceive the tundra settings of the game.[27]

The team worked on improving the story's pacing, which Horton thought was as important as the story itself. Several features that have gameplay potential but do not fit the game's context were cut. For instance, vehicles and an early scene in which Lara battled enemies in a jeep were forced to be removed.[17] The team also listened to players feedback regarding the original game and made several gameplay adjustments such as reducing the number of quick time events, expanding the hunting system, and increasing the significance of transversal and stealth.[25] Cinematic moments and high octane action sequences, designed by an internal team named "OMS" which stands for "oh my shit", were retained in the sequel.[22] The theme of "survival" remained as the core pillar of the story, and the team introduced gameplay modifications to reflect this. For instance, the expanded crafting system meant that players need to leverage the environments more.[24] However, Crystal Dynamics avoided making the game a survival game as the team felt that it would discourage players from exploring.[28] Like its predecessor, the game adopted a structure similar to a metroidvania because the team wanted players to feel that Siberia is a living and dynamic world and that the game was not just merely a long sequence of events.[24] According to Michael Brinker, the game's design director, the team intentionally decided to make the game not as "grindy" as other titles, thus players would not be forced to complete any of the optional content. To give players more choices on how they want to play, the skill upgrades system have been overhauled to include more options for players to choose.[22]

The game also put more emphasis on tomb raiding than its predecessors after listening to players' feedback.[29] According to Hughes, the team analyzed some of the older Tomb Raider titles and distilled their best features, while incorporating the physics-based puzzles from the reboot. The team also intended to add more ancient tombs which have deep stories so that players would feel like they are actual discoverers and be awe-inspired by it. The tombs were made larger than the reboot and that puzzles were expanded with the inclusion of water puzzles, which were featured in older Tomb Raider games. These puzzles were often interconnected, as the team adopted a method named "Nested Puzzle Approach".[12] Optional tombs were made more meaningful to players, as it now gave players unique skills and items rather than simply awarding players with experience points.[17] The difficulty of each tomb will slowly increase as players progress.[30]

Art and musicEdit

 
The Library of Celsus in Ephesus inspired one of the game's tombs named "The Flooded Archive".

The game's world was designed to be a reflection of Lara's distorted mental condition, and the team introduced the concept of "ominous beauty" in order to accommodate this. The color scheme featured in the game was more vibrant and colorful in order to reflect the game's large scale. To create the world of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the team was inspired by other video games and fine arts, as well as Russian realists.[17] The team also organized trips to several locations in Turkey including Cappadocia, Istanbul, and Ephesus as well as the Yosemite National Park, and researched Byzantine culture and Greek architecture so as to find inspirations when creating the team's vision for their designs of Syria and Kitezh.[31] The team took six months to create the game's snow technologies, such as snow tracks and avalanches, which helped to increase players' immersion into the game. To add variety to the game's landscapes, the team introduced the Oasis, which has a drastically different look than Siberia.[23]

Tahouri acted as the game's composer. His main goal when composing the game's music was to support the game's narrative. In 2012, Tahouri spoke to members from Crystal Dynamics, which later entrusted him to write the score in late 2013. He was delighted that he was given more time to compose the music when compared with his past projects. Tahouri listened to the soundtracks of previous games so that he could "immerse [himself] in the Tomb Raider world". The game's music was performed by a 52-piece string and brass orchestra in Nashville, and Tahouri recorded music using cello, woodwinds, dulcimer, and percussion such as a handpan created by Saraz Musical Instruments. When creating the soundtracks for Siberia, he used a plucked instrument similar to that of Gusli and low male vocals. The game also used a middleware named Dynamic Percussion System, which would create music procedurally during the game's stealth section.[32] Crystal Dynamics also partnered with Karen O and guitarist David Pajo to produce the game's theme song named "I Shall Rise".[33]

TechnologyEdit

 
Camilla Luddington provided the voice and motion capture work for the Lara Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Luddington voiced Lara and she performed motion capture at a studio in Los Angeles over the couse of two years. Luddington stated that one of her greatest challenges when voicing Lara was that she had to "yell over wind and snow". [34] Luddington trained for the role, and had experts teaching her how to hold weapons.[35] The team spent a lot of time to ensure that Lara's first game for the eighth generation of video game consoles looked great. Using a fluorescent paint named "Mova" to spray on Luddington's face, the team captured 7,000 points of reference on the actress' face.[36] The team found it very difficult to create Lara Croft from motion capture since the footage filmed by Luddington were often too real and not representative of Lara, thus the team often had to edit the footage repeatedly and produce new arts for the animations. Since Lara is a young female protagonist, the team paid additional attention when creating her facial expressions, which were described as "subtle". The team also focused on creating Lara's physical details in cutscenes, in which her muscles would contract on the screen when she was climbing and that her skin would be filled with red patches when the weather was extremely cold. The studio used a technique called "pose-based deformers" so that they could sculpt the "exact shape" of Lara when she was moving. The team also used "wrinkle maps", which allowed for more realistic and natural movement for Lara.[25]

Rise of the Tomb Raider was powered by an in-house engine named Foundation.[37] The team utilized a global illumination methodology and physics based rendering to create lighting and shadows.[5] The team used an editor dubbed as "Horizon", which is a WYSIWYG editor in which text and graphics can be edited in a form closely resembling its appearance when displayed as a finished product. The team adopted an approach known as "kit-bashing technique", in which they would quickly assemble a level using different modules. These levels would then be rebuilt and iterated until it met the team's demands and expectations. To improve the game's graphical fieldality, the team partnered with Nixxes Software, which also ported the game's Xbox 360 version.[22]

ReleaseEdit

On 1 August 2013, Square Enix Europe executive Phil Rogers announced that a new Tomb Raider game was in development for the eighth generation of video game consoles.[38] At E3 2014, Microsoft announced the game during their press conference, while confirming that the game would be released in late 2015.[39] At Gamescom 2014, Microsoft revealed that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be an exclusive for its Xbox series of video game platforms, including Xbox 360 and Xbox One, though Phil Spencer, an executive from Microsoft Studios, confirmed that it was a timed exclusive, similar to Microsoft's deal with Capcom and Crytek on Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome in which both would be released for Microsoft Windows. This had led to outrage from players, since Tomb Raider had a longer history with PlayStation, and that they blamed franchise owner Square Enix over the decision.[40] The fact that Microsoft called the game an "exclusive on Xbox for holiday 2015" sparked confusion among both the gaming press and players.[41] Rogers later explained in 2015 that the timed exclusivity with Microsoft was mainly due to Microsoft's strong support for the 2013 reboot whereas many others did not. Darrell Gallagher, head of Crystal Dynamics, also believed that the partnership can help the team to "deliver the best game that [they] can".[42] Rogers described the arrangement as a "natural" evolution and a "tough" decision.[43]

Rise of the Tomb Raider was released on 10 November 2015,[44] while the Windows version was released on 28 January 2016.[45] Microsoft Studios acted as the game's publisher on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.[46] A 18-issue comics series simply titled Tomb Raider was released starting from early 2014. Produced by Dark Horse Comics and written by Pratchett and Gail Simone, the comics bridged the gaps between the 2013 reboot and Rise of the Tomb Raider, explaining the absence of certain side characters in the sequel.[47] Microsoft released a Rise of the Tomb Raider Xbox One bundle, which includes a Xbox One console, a code for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and the game.[48] A Collector's Edition, which was sold at a slightly higher price than the standard edition, was also released alongside the game. It includes a 12-inch statue of Lara, a steelbook, a jade necklace and a replica of Lara's journal.[49] There is also a season pass, which includes the base game, additional outfits, weapons and Expedition cards as well as access to downloadable content.[50] Players who preordered the game using GameStop will also have exclusive access to the Holy Fire Card Pack, which can be used in the game's Expeditions mode.[51] To market the game, Microsoft launched an event named "Survival Billboard", which was livestreamed via Twitch. Viewers can vote on which types of weather effects they wanted the 8 contestants standing in front of a billboard on Southwark Street to suffer through. After suffering 20 hours of extreme weather effects ranging from snow, wind, rain and heat, Adam Carr was declared the champion of the competition and was awarded a "Tomb Raider-themed trip".[52] Players can also earn in-game rewards by participating and interacting with streamers' livestream on Twitch when the streamers are playing the Expedition modes.[53]

The game was supported by a series of downloadable content. The first post-launch update was released on 4 December 2015. It introduces the Endurance Mode, which features elements of a survival game as Lara needs to hunt and craft items in order to survive while facing numerous hidden dangers and environmental hazards.[54] The first story add-on, titled Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, was released on 26 January 2016 for Xbox One, which sees Lara combating supernatural enemies and Baba Yaga.[55] Cold Darkness Awakened, the third DLC, introduces a horde mode in which Lara needs to combat against waves of infected enemies.[56] Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Year Celebration edition was released for the PlayStation 4 on 11 October 2016. The edition, developed by Nixxes Software in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics, also adds several new features, including a classic outfit inspired by Tomb Raider III,[57] cooperative gameplay for the Endurance mode, Blood Ties, a combat-free mode in which Lara explores the Croft Manor, and Lara's Nightmare in which players fight against infected enemies inside the Croft Manor.[58] All of these content were made free to all season pass owners. To promote the launch of the 20th Year Celebration edition, the marketing team hanged a jeep on the side of a building in Times Square.[59] Blood Ties supported PlayStation VR when 20th Year Celebration launched, while Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were supported starting from 6 December 2017.[60]

ReceptionEdit

Reception
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (PC) 86/100[61]
(XONE) 86/100[62]
(PS4) 88/100[63]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 7.5/10[64]
EGM 8/10[65]
Game Informer 9.5/10[66]
Game Revolution      [67]
GameSpot 9/10[68]
GamesRadar+      [69]
IGN 9.3/10[70]

Critical receptionEdit

The game's graphics received critical acclaim. Kimberly Wallace from Game Informer praised it for being "stunning", and applauded Crystal Dynamics for creating detailed environments for players to explore, though she noted that she encountered several frame rate issues. Spencer Campbell from Electronic Gaming Monthly shared similar opinions, describing the areas as "gorgeous" and that every location featured in the game looked unique.[65] Justin Towell from GamesRadar praised the game's presentation and largely applauded the game's animation, adding that it was one of the top-tier AAA productions. He added that the game graphically was so pretty that he had to take screenshots of it.[69] Steven Hansen from Destructoid called this one of the best-looking games out in the market, though he found some of the lighting unrealistic.[64]

Wallace praised the story for offering several memorable moments, though she thought it was mostly predictable, except the ending scene. She approved the writers' decision to explore the relationship between Lara and her father, as well as with Trinity, which she described as "interesting".[66] Campbell criticized the story for being simple and often formulaic, saying that the story "took too many cues" from Raiders of the Lost Ark while not being able to develop the characters properly, thus making them forgettable.[65] Mike Mahardy from GameSpot, however, believed that the story was emotional and that the characters are grounded and believable, adding that the story's mystical elements "makes sense within the world they occupy". He described the story as a tragic yet uplifting one.[68] Towell praised the story for offering several surprising moments and was largely impressed by the cast's voice acting, though he was disappointed that the story felt too similar to the 2013 reboot.[69] Peter Paras from Game Revolution singled out Luddington's performance as Lara, saying that she "imbues the character with a sense of wonderment and determination".[67] Lucy O'Brien from IGN described Lara as an "endearing" character in the game, who was driven by "complex ambitions". She also described the game's villains as "strong".[70]

The game's combat was applauded by Wallace. She enjoyed the stealth sections and found the combat to be entertaining. In additino, she appreciated the upgrade trees which caters to different playstyles. However, she noted that certain combat sections in the later stage of the game become repetitive.[66] Campbell praised the stealth section for being satisfying and challenging and was pleased to know that the game offered players many choices regarding how they would like to progress in the game. He noted the combat's more strategic nature due to the larger arsenal of weapons.[65] Mahardy described the combat as "superb", also praising the game for providing freedom for players to experiment with gameplay mechanics. He felt that resources gathering was tedious, though the crafting system was well-executed.[68] Towell liked the combat and stealth, comparing it with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, though he noted that Lara often felt like a "cold-blooded killer" due to the abundance of combat encounters in the game. Towell also felt that there were way too many items to collect.[69] O'Brien was disappointed that certain combat sections were uninspired, but she thoguth that they were made more fun due to the new crafting abilities. She felt that the stealth component was enjoyable although redundant.[70] Hansen welcomed the addition of stealth. Despite this, he added that Rise did not address the problems introduced in the 2013 reboot, in which Lara was too violent which cause narrative dissonance.[64]

Wallace praised the abundance of the game's side content, adding that they were intriguing enough to lure her away from the main story. She also liked the Metroidvania world design, adding that these large hubs encouraged her to explore. She also praised the game's expanded tombs and the puzzles for being deeper and more intricate than the previous game.[66] Campbell praised the hunting mechanic, which he felt had successfully made the world of the game more realized. He commented that the shortcomings of the narrative were compensated by gameplay complexity, in particular, the optional tombs puzzles.[65] Mahardy praised the large open hubs for adopting a "waterfall structure" in which every action performed by the players may unlock new possibilities.[68] Towell however felt that these hubs are filled with aimless content that were not engaging.[69] O'Brien described the challenge tombs as the game's real highlight and that they pay homage to the older Tomb Raider games, though she felt that the game did not have enough puzzles for players to solve.[70] Hansen was disappointed that that many of the content was "open world busywork", which he compared to the Assassin's Creed series of games.[64] Paras felt that the Expedition mode was a worthy inclusion and described it as a "real treat",[67] though Oli Welsh from Eurogamer critizied the mode strongly, saying that there was no reason for the mode to exist other than to please YouTubers and gain extra revenue from microtransactions.[14]

Wallace called Rise of the Tomb Raider "better in every way" than the 2013 reboot, and that the game had high replayability.[66] Campbell was disappointed by the story, but commented that the game was still largely an improvement over its predecessor.[65] Towell described the game as a "safe sequel" that does not take much risks, but added that the formula it had adopted was a successful one.[69] O'Brien believed that it had refined the formula of its predecessor successfully.[70] Hansen noted that many of the game's content felt bloated. While recognizing it as an improvement, he condemned it for not fixing many of the original's shortcomings.[64] Paras believed that after 20 years, the Tomb Raider franchise finally surpassed some of gaming's all-time classics like Resident Evil 4 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves with Rise of the Tomb Raider.[67] The game received "generally positive reviews" upon release according to review aggregator Metacritic, with the PlayStation 4 version attaining the highest score of 88 out of 100.[63]

SalesEdit

Some gaming journalists were concerned about the game's sales since it was released on the same day as Fallout 4, a highly anticipated game from Bethesda Game Studios which also had Microsoft as its marketing partner. However, Microsoft was confident to release the game as it felt that they were not completely competing with each other.[71] The retail version of Rise of the Tomb Raider was the fourth best selling game in its week of release in the UK and Ireland, debuting at No. 4 in the UK retail software sales chart, behind Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops III and FIFA 16.[72] However, in its month of release, it did not sell enough to be featured in NPD Group's chart.[73] According to Square Enix, the game's initial commercial performance was "solid".[74] Brian Horton, the game's director, and Aaron Greenberg, a Microsoft's executive, claimed that both Microsoft Studios and Square Enix were satisfied with the game's sales.[75] Digitally, the Windows version sold three times the amount of the Xbox One version in the first month of release.[76] By the end of 2015, the game had sold over 1 million copies.[77] As of November 2017, the game has sold nearly 7 million units.[78]

AwardsEdit

SequelEdit

On 15 March 2018, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was officially confirmed by Square Enix. It will serve as the third and final game in the rebooted origin story. Eidos Montreal replaced Crystal Dynamics as the game's lead developer. It is currently set to be released worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on 14 September 2018.[92]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit