Now that Rise of the Tomb Raider has finally arrived, fans and critics alike are praising the game for its return to the franchise’s roots. While it follows in the footsteps of 2013’s Tomb Raider, this is a game that’s very much about adventure. Exploration, puzzle-solving, and treasure-hunting make up the bulk of the game – and that means there’s more subtlety and complexity than Lara Croft has seen in years. Here are seven clues to help you on your adventure.
There’s an obvious choice for your first skill unlock.
When the time comes to level Lara up, make the Avid Learner skill your first purchase. It adds a boost of extra experience points whenever you find a Document, Relic, Survival Cache, or complete a Challenge. That means you level up quicker, which makes every other skill point slightly easier to obtain. And if you’re looking for a suggestion of what to unlock next: Go for Breath Control. Otherwise, you’ll go insane trying to use your bow.
A good ear is as important as a good eye.
When Lara is nearing enemies or hostile animals, the game helpfully clues you into this fact with two changes: First, you’ll start to notice an increasingly urgent drum beat added to the score. And second, Lara will begin to crouch down to be a little stealthier. Recognizing those cues makes it easy to travel around without worrying too much about stumbling into trouble.
Optional Challenge Tombs are not optional.
OK, well, technically they are, but the rewards are so incredibly worth it that you’d be silly to pass them up. Unlike in the previous game, optional tombs don’t award XP or maps. Instead, they give Lara a new skill, one she can’t pick up anywhere else. So, yeah, take that “optional” challenge every time you can.
Optional side missions are optional… but you should do them anyway.
Similarly, don’t ignore the handful of extra quests that you get from non-player characters. These almost always offer incredibly useful gear, from weapon add-ons to outfits that confer bonuses when worn. Plus, they fill in a little of the game’s story, too.
Reading is fundamental.
Unlike in most games, documents (and murals) are much more than a simple box-ticking collectible. Each one you read increases your proficiency in various languages. That proficiency allows you to decode monoliths. Those monoliths tell you the locations of coin caches. And those coins can be traded in for sweet gear. The moral of the story? Reading gets you sweet gear.
Missing gear doesn’t stay missing long.
Fairly early in the game, you’re going to encounter doorways that require rope arrows, and ropes that require a combat knife to cut. Don’t bother hunting around the area; these aren’t hidden away in a tomb or anything. Instead, they’re unlocked over the course of the main story, and pretty early at that. So ignore those ropes for a bit, and plan to come back later.
You can almost always backtrack.
Speaking of coming back later: With very, very few exceptions (primarily cinematic sequences where stuff is breaking, blowing up, or otherwise becoming impossible to return to), Rise of the Tomb Raider lets you revisit any area pretty much whenever you like. Many areas can be traveled to on foot simply by retracing your steps, but those that can’t still allow you to fast-travel to a campfire. So don’t obsess about getting everything in an area. Of course, you probably will anyway.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is available now, exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360. And it’s really, really great.