When Crystal Dynamics released its Tomb Raider reboot in 2013, the studio changed how we viewed heroine Lara Croft. Instead of the fearless, gun-toting explorer we've come to know, this adventure took place in her younger years, during a time when she was finding herself.
The game re-energized the series, and the developer immediately got to work on the sequel, promising bigger and better things for Ms. Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider, due to arrive this year.
Following the events of the original game, Lara Croft learns an organization called Trinity covered up events from her original adventure. Determined to expose the truth and prove she's not insane, Lara sets out to the city of Kitezh (located in Siberia), where she vows to find out more about the legacy of the Grand Prince of Vladimir, which dates back to the 13th century. While on this quest Lara faces great odds, including hostile weather conditions (detailed in the video below), wild animals and Trinity agents who will stop at nothing to keep the truth from coming out.
Similar to the first game, Rise of the Tomb Raider introduces a number of situations where Lara must act quickly to survive. These include running along the sides of mountains, using stealth to avoid detection by a roving Trinity patrol and relying on techniques to find her way through large, elaborate stages.
There’s a crafting system so Lara can improve weaponry and skills over time. She can scavenge a number of materials in the stage, including animal skins and plants to improve her weaponry – like the strength of her bow. She can also learn new moves, including improved stealth skills to avoid detection, as well as hunting techniques when the situation calls for it.
In addition, players will encounter puzzles, such as activating switches in certain levels or looking around to find important items, such as wood necessary to start a campfire, which prevents Lara from succumbing to the cold.
Exploration tools include the return of the climbing axe, which enables her to reach higher ground by climbing up walls she wouldn't be able to traverse by hand. Of course, her versatility also plays a role, as she'll need to grab onto ledges and swing across areas to avoid death.
Along with the beautiful (albeit dangerous) new levels, Rise of the Tomb Raider will introduce new combat tactics, which Lara will utilize when battling either humans or animals. Weapons play a big part in the game, especially the bow and arrow, which enables her to strike silently without detecting Trinity goons. Various modifications can be made to weapons as well, such as a gaseous arrow that stuns an enemy momentarily – long enough for Lara to do damage. She can also use makeshift weapons, such as a handmade explosive that when thrown into a campfire, can take out anyone nearby.
How you play the game is a big part of Rise of the Tomb Raider. You don't necessarily have to go into every scenario guns blazing – Lara can climb across tree limbs and under logs to avoid detection. If you prefer combat, you can use a number of options, such as silently stabbing someone with a knife, or engaging in ground combat.
It helps to have combat in mind, especially going up against more powerhouse enemies. As you see in the video, Lara encounters a large grizzly bear and must kill it to keep moving forward. She'll need cunning to avoid its attacks, while at the same time chipping away at it with her bow and arrow and other weapons if she wants to successfully defeat it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a much bigger experience than the original, based on what we've seen so far. Adventurers should be thrilled with the results when it arrives on November 10th for Xbox One.