Rise of the Tomb Raider Review
It feels like I just wrote the preview for Rise of the Tomb Raider a month ago, but the game has been out for about four months now. Well, I just picked up the game a few weeks ago and have finally played it enough to write a thorough review. It’s much better than I expected, and I do believe it was the best XBOX One Exclusive launched last year—tied with Halo 5.
Why do I think it was the best? Because when I play Rise of the Tomb Raider I get that challenge that I used to love about action/adventure games growing up. It’s not the most difficult game by any means, but it’s not simple, repetitive or ever dull. The graphics are top quality, as in the best of the best. People look real, environments look real too.
Within five minutes, I was hooked.
Sometimes Lara climbs so fast I think I am playing an Assassin’s Creed game, but really I know I’m not. Moving around and climbing your way through obstacles is challenging at times, but if you pay attention to your surroundings you might discover something new. The environment and your surroundings are a crucial part of the game. Especially since scavenging is crucial to your survival and remaining stocked up on ammo for your gun or bow.
However, I am also talking about combat. There are a ton of different ways you can take out your enemy, and I often find myself up in a tree trying to get a head shot. However, picking up bottles and making molotov cocktails to throw at them is also fun.
Fighting bears? Not so fun. I died like 5 times in a row during the first bear fight. I caught on quick after that! The hunting element is strong in this game, as you will find in the first level, there are a ton of animals to hunt.
Leveling Up and Character Progression
Rise of the Tomb Raider has a simple character progression system. When you arrive at your campfire you will be able to assign a new skill point if you have any available. This is also where you will be able to fast travel and craft/upgrade your weapons.
There are three areas in which you can assign a skill point, and each area has its own set of specific skills you can assign the point to. There is the Brawler group, which has your melee and healing skills. The Hunter skills, which feature abilities for both hunting and scavenging. And then there is the Survivalist group of skills, which will make you better at crafting and exploration.
Lara Croft is properly trained with all things rope. If there are two rope-wrapped stumps (one where you are and one where you want to go – usually higher up), Lara can shoot the far one and latch the rope onto the one nearby so you can climb up. It’s very convenient, and it made for some fun puzzles throughout the game.
For instance, there are times when you will use the rope arrows to grab and pull things, so there isn’t just one use for the tool.
There are times when you will use the molotov cocktails to set things on fire (to do something like burn a pile of wood out of your way) and times when you will use them in combat. They can be crafted very fast while in a fight so you will find yourself using them quite often.
Puzzles are highly connected with the main storyline, and I found myself rushing from one to the next as they are definitely my favorite part of the game. They range widely in difficulty, some of them were easy and didn’t require much thinking, while others took me a couple hours to work at before I made it past. The tough ones are always worth it and you get a real sense of accomplishment after completing them.
Puzzle-solving in Rise of the Tomb Raider is exactly what I hoped for, although I wish there was more of it throughout the game. Still, I give the puzzle-solving element a 5 out of 5 any day.
Combat is not something you will necessarily try to avoid, although at times you certainly can do that if you want to. Lara Croft is so skilled in combat and it’s not hard for you to take out a dozen or so enemies. Of course, I did not play on the toughest difficulty so don’t mind me if you’re one of those hardcore players, I am not.
I usually dislike third-person shooting, but in this game it isn’t so bad. It’s easy to switch weapons, craft weapons, and I find it very easy to aim in this game. This is why the third-person shooting isn’t so bad in my opinion.
What’s really good about the combat is how you can quickly heal, quickly craft and quickly hide when needed. There are usually items laying around that you can throw to distract your enemies while you craft molotov cocktails or special ammo to quickly take them out.
Stealth is of course important and you do get XP bonuses for stealth take-downs, but it just doesn’t feel necessary 90% of the time. When I go for a stealth kill, it is for the pure joy of sneaking up and pulling off an awesome kill.
Rise of the Tomb Raider has a great deal of content for you to discover outside of the main storyline, so you have every reason to explore the world. It’s not like exploring an open-world game, but it’s as good as a semi-open world gets. There are optional tombs to explore, and you never know what you will find inside one.
There are also NPCs in the game that will give you jobs in exchange for coins, XP and outfits. It’s really a complete package as far as exploration and extra side content go. You have so many things to find, and if you truly want to complete the game you’ll be looking for caves, documents, murals, and relics – all over the place.
The average playthrough time is 15 hours, but if you want to find everything there is to find then that time can double, possibly taking up to 40 hours for you to complete the game. Not everyone is interested in finding every relic, but if you enjoy that kind of stuff then you will love Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Expedition mode has been added to Rise of the Tomb Raider as a replacement to the 2013 multiplayer, and it allows you to compete against friends (and yourself) in challenges. You can modify the challenges using collectible cards, and modifiers can make you weaker or stronger. I didn’t play this much due to a busy schedule but I have nothing negative to say about it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is everything we hoped for – beautiful environments, highly detailed graphics, excellent storyline, challenging puzzles, fast crafting, exploration, hunting, and exciting combat. Stealth combat in this game is fun, however not necessary because your combat skills and ability to take down a large group of opponents with ease.
I was expecting Halo 5 to be my favorite game from 2015, but it is clear after playing it that Rise of the Tomb Raider was the best XBOX One game launched last year. Overall, the experience is solid and it never gets boring. There is adventure, action, shooting, crafting, puzzle-solving, and everything was pulled off flawlessly.