Tomb Raider's Microsoft marriage
When it was first announced, Rise of the Tomb Raider was controversially touted as an Xbox One and Xbox 360 exclusive. However it was later clarified by studio Crystal Dynamics as a timed exclusive. That means PS4 and PC players will still get to shoot Lara's bow and arrow - however it'll just be a little later.
Noah Hughes, creative director of the game, sat down with us during a preview event to discuss the upcoming title and stated that the team wanted to focus on one SKU (stock keeping unit) - in this case, the Xbox - to make the "best version" possible of the game.
This doesn't mean the PS4 and PC/Windows 10 have been left out in the dust. Hughes emphasized the team is still devoting time and effort into optimizing the game for the other platforms - Microsoft's consoles were simply prioritized first.
Regardless, we'll all eventually get to play the new game and see that Tomb Raider was the origin story of Lara becoming a resilient survivor, while Rise of the Tomb Raider will show us her evolution into the fierce Lara Croft we know and love.
Read on for new and returning features Hughes mentioned, alongside new screen shots of the game.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Well, bears. There will be new ferocious beasts for Lara to fight with different methods to take out the creatures where you'll have to be creative and quick on your feet.
There's also more wildlife in general that will be scampering around. You can definitely take advantage of this by hunting and crafting - which is explained more in the next slide.
More ways to kill
Crafting is back and more integrated than ever. Animal parts gained from hunting and salvaging boxes will again play a role in how Lara upgrades her weaponry. Her bow and arrows have also been enhanced with better customization options.
Instead of one axe, she'll also be equipped with dual axes. You'll also have the option to use guns more often and customize them at base camps.
Lara goes non-lethal
Molotov cocktails can be thrown by Lara as distractions or to do damage. However, you can also play non-lethally to avoid combat altogether. Hughes mentions the option isn't always there but generally you'll be able to try this out. take down moves, can be non-lethal
One of my favorite parts is sneaking in games then performing crazy takedowns. Thankfully, this gameplay is back again in Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Hughes says there are different types of ways to fight enemies and you can "approach combat very intelligently."
I particularly enjoyed hiding out in bushes and sniping guys with the bow and arrow for extra points. Running and gunning was also fun but I'd have to craft arrows on the fly pretty often to resupply.
Lara the explorer
Hughes says the sequel is perfect for explorers. There are certain sections, or hubs, that are now larger letting you play side quests and mini games in addition to the main story. These areas are fairly open, allowing you quite a bit of freedom.
The game in general is much more expansive than the first one in terms of sheer scale. You can go more places and do more stuff.
Optional tombs filled with lots of collectibles are available to explore and of course, the puzzles aren't going anywhere.
Lara will also learn languages along the way and improve by reading more murals and documents. She'll level up this ability and be able to translate and decipher various languages, which ties into the Lara we know from the older games.
As the story unfolds, we see that Rise of the Tomb Raider is essentially a celebration of Lara's evolution and role as the "tomb raider." Through flashbacks, we're shown significant moments of her life that make her an even more compelling figure. The studio amped up the animations of her facial expressions to convey more emotion and passion for this particular storyline (while her hair is just as beautifully rendered in this game as the first).