2013’s reboot of the Tomb Raider series was awesome, visceral, pulse-pounding. But Rise of the Tomb Raider feels like what that reboot was building toward: This is the new Lara Croft, an extremely capable, suitably badass heroine that does what she needs to.
Whereas in 2013’s Tomb Raider, Lara Croft was a somewhat vulnerable character who learned to become what she had to be, this Lara Croft is seemingly well acquainted with weaponry, and has no qualms about doing what she needs to do. And it’s a good thing, too, as her enemies – the mysterious, military-grade-weapon-wielding Trinity – will stop at nothing to beat Ms. Croft to the punch.
In the gamescom 2015 briefing demo, we got to witness Lara’s array of attacks, both stealth-based and all-out assault. With her trusty bow in hand, Lara can take out enemies from far away, and can even fire two arrows at once – simultaneously dropping a pair of unwitting guards. Creeping through the underbrush or leaping from rooftops both allow Lara to take out all the baddies she pleases. Loose bottles and other objects can be used as distracting sound lures, or as weapons for surprise attacks. Lara has no dearth of ways to drop fools.
But it’s not all about sneaking around and silently ushering unwitting guns-for-hire to their demise; Lara can bring out the big guns when she needs to. We got to watch as Croft blew up an explosive barrel, and used the opportunity to launch a full-on attack, shotgun in hand. With a combination of grenades, smoke bombs, and heavy artillery, Lara gunned down enemies like the most badass action star on the planet.
Both of these differing strategies showcase a major new element in Rise of the Tomb Raider: customization. Players can fine-tune Lara to fit their play styles, upgrading her abilities as they see fit… which means that the way one player experiences Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be different from the way a friend does. Is your Lara Croft a methodical ninja-like assassin, or a gun-toting warrior?
Outside of combat, Lara shows off her strength and dexterity with an insane amount of climbing, leaping, ledge-grabbing, and all-around impressive upper body strength.
And, of course there are the tombs themselves. We got the chance to get a peek at one of the tombs offered in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which are positioned similarly to the previous game’s – as bonus areas to seek out and explore. Tight skeleton-littered passages, raging rivers, crumbling scaffolding, and deadly booby traps all await Lara as she seeks out ancient burial places and long-lost treasures.
We’re pretty excited about the tombs. They promise to be larger, more diverse, and more challenging than before, and that’s awesome. The series is after all, still called Tomb Raider, so it’s excellent to see a lot of love given to them. And with the diverse world presented in the game – ranging from blinding snow to tropical heat – there’s a huge diversity in tombs to explore.
Rise of the Tomb Raider comes out exclusively for Xbox One on November 10. We’ll be bringing you a hands-on look at one of the tombs next week!