Rise of the Tomb Raider - main 3

If you’re a PS4 gamer and have been avoiding any form of media that could spoil the plot and experience of last year’s excellent Rise of The Tomb Raider on PC and Xbox One, I salute your outstanding willpower. You can get out of your cave now because it’s finally released on the PS4 in an awesome package that includes all previously released DLCs along with some cool extras to commemorate the franchise’s 20-year celebration.

Rise of The Tomb Raider is set a year after Lara Croft’s first adventure in the franchise’s reboot by Square Enix in 2013. This time, we follow her through the freezing harsh environments of Siberia as she seeks out an ancient artefact known as The Divine Source, which is rumoured to stave off death itself. Of course, getting in between Lara and her goal are Trinity – an ancient order of knights who also seeks the artefact – and also the hostile environment of Siberia itself, which includes complimentary killer, Russian bears. Storytelling in Rise of The Tomb Raider shines bright thanks to its cinematic presentation, well fleshed out villains, and Lara’s excellent performance as the protagonist.

While pre-reboot Lara could wade off most problems with her signature akimbo pistols and stylish acrobatics, her post-reboot self-prevails with cunning survival and crafting skills. The survivor system from the previous game is carried over with major improvements that include more crafting options, as well as additional equipment and skill upgrades.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - main 4

Combat remains pretty much intact from the previous installment, but with major additions that could help Lara survive in tough situations. She can now craft healing items, explosives, and even ammunition on the fly by holding down the corresponding buttons. She could also use the environment to gain the upper hand in stealth by hiding in bushes or even stalking her prey on high tree branches.

Rise of The Tomb Raider‘s locations are played out in an open-world fashion but are divided into separate areas. Each location has their own activities such as mini challenges, NPC quests, unique treasures, and even hidden tombs to be explored. Aside from crossing out your trophy list, these activities will also reward you with extra crafting materials, currency to purchase equipment upgrades, and also parts to construct powerful unlockable weapons. The payoff is far more worthwhile, unlike the previous game where completing hidden tombs only rewarded players with trophy achievements as Lara gawks at an in-game artifact that serves no purpose at all.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Lara's Nightmare
Lara’s Nightmare

The two major hidden tomb DLCs – Baba Yaga: The Temple of The Witch, and Cold Darkness Awakened –  and the Endurance Mode missions are immediately accessible in the PS4 port. Now that we’ve covered the core content of Rise of The Tomb Raider, it’s time we move on to the new stuff. In Rise of The Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, we are introduced to two new additions to satisfy our tomb raiding desires: Endurance Co-op, and Blood Ties.

Endurance Co-op pretty much explains itself with the title and is a self-contained experience which is played out separate from the main story. With a partner, you both get to tackle the tougher aspects of Endurance and survive as long as possible by not succumbing to freezing temperatures, starving to death, or getting mauled by wolves. Oh, the bears are in this one too. The objective of Endurance is to seek out smaller tombs or caves for artefacts within a certain map, and escaping it with all of your innards intact. With a partner around, the chances of survival should be a bit better than going on it alone. Right? Co-op is only available online, so those hoping for a local split-screen session will be left disappointed.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Co-op

Blood Ties is a new and separate story mission that has Lara exploring the ravaged Croft Manor to search for clues about her family’s past. The mission serves as a good extension to the rebooted Tomb Raider lore but contains no combat whatsoever. While the latter might sound like a major turnoff, but the experience itself is quite fulfilling and pays tribute to ye olde’ adventure games. The best part? Exclusive to the PS4 platform, you’re able to explore the Croft Manor in Blood Ties with the recently released PlayStation VR.

Interestingly, those who still long for action in Croft Manor are not left out. Blood Ties comes with Lara’s Nightmare; a horde mode set in the same location where Lara struggles to stay alive and defend her home from invading zombies. Yes. Zombies. Bizarre as it may sound, but remember, this is just a nightmare but a fun and challenging one at that. Unfortunately, this mode from Blood Ties is not available to be experienced with VR. Bummer.

Was Rise of The Tomb Raider’s 11-month long wait worth it for PS4 gamers? Thanks to a complete package, new content, and even VR support included in the 20 Year Celebration edition; it’s a worthwhile pickup. Especially for those going through the Uncharted 4 withdrawal, Rise of The Tomb Raider will scratch that itch with its excellent gameplay and story.

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