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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

Rise of the Tomb Raider(s)? Online play modes in the DLC

I've been using my extended sojurn away from home (thanks Covid) to play games I haven't found time for - high on the list was Rise of the Tomb Raider. I've been a Tomb Raider fan ever since the heady days of Tomb Raider 1 released in 1996. I wasn't initially sold on the 2013 reboot for many reasons (there's a whole different article about that I'll post later) but Rise of the Tomb Raider did a lot of things right, honouring Classic Lara in a way that was fitting. I was not a fan of the frightened girl they presented us with in 2013 but this Lara appears to have matured a bit more into the unflappable heroine I knew as a girl.

I played on PS4 so I benefited from the 20th anniversary edition of the game with all the DLC. The Wicked Vale was entertaining enough, and Blood Ties really shone, reminding me of why I loved the series in the first place, but other packs did not really fit.

The co-op modes and the challenge maps seemed a little out of place. I know that modern gaming happens online mostly, and that games as a service can be a valuable source of revenue. However there is a difference between adding a multiplayer mode to say, Doom, and adding one to Tomb Raider. It's not exactly in keeping with the series. Tomb Raider was never about competition, and it was never about teaming up to face the challenge. Lara is a one woman army and has no need of backup.

So why did they add these modes instead of, perhaps, more story content? My guess is management panicked about releasing a purely single person experience in the age of Fortnite and Apex Legends. It was a concern that was voiced when Cyberpunk 2077 was released too, critics worried how well the game would sell without any online play modes. Considering it made back development costs on digital pre-orders alone, it's clear to see there is definitely still a large market for single player content.

That's not to say that the online play modes are bad, however. I really enjoyed the "Tomb Raider meets zombies" Cold Darkness mode. This involves tearing through hordes of infected enemies, rescuing prisoners and solving puzzles to stop a cloud of poison gas travelling down to the valley where the Remnants live. Very, very silly of course, but quite fun.

I would have preferred story content for sure, but perhaps more will come during the 25th anniversary celebrations this year. If Crystal Dynamics had just been a little more confident in their product as is, maybe we could have hunted a new myth or discovered a lost city instead of grinding for achievements in challenge modes. A missed opportunity.

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