Game play footage of Rise of the Tomb Raider has been shown at E3, following on from the teaser trailer released a few weeks ago. The words ‘game play’ are probably a bit generous as the footage shown looks more like an interactive movie than an actual game being played. This is par-for-the-course with modern action-adventure games, of course, but in the above video it is very difficult to tell which parts are actually being played by the gamer. It looks like Lara is being controlled for a few seconds before a small cut scene plays, then Lara is being controlled again, then another cut scene, and so on. Hopefully the game will settle down, and presumably Crystal Dynamics chose this sequence because it was exciting and crowd pleasing. Personally, I would have preferred to see something calmer to get a sense of how the bulk of the game will play. I wanted to know if tombs and puzzle solving are a more important element than they were in the previous game, though according to people who are actually at E3 and have seen a demo, this appears to be the case.
The teaser trailer did suggest that Lara would be on her own, however the game play footage shows her with Jonah, one of the supporting characters from the previous game. He talks a lot, too much in fact, though he never quite reaches Zip and Alistair levels of irritation. There is a suggestion that they become separated early on as much of the rest of the footage of the game shows Lara on her own. For me this is what Tomb Raider should be, Lara alone in the wild with no one but herself to rely on.
The part of the video I found the most interesting was the final minute in which we are shown moments from the rest of the game, giving us further hints as to what we can expect from it. Several of the shots show Lara using the climbing axe to cut up a dead animal and pull down part of a wall, suggesting there are uses for this tool beyond what was in the previous game.
We also see her maintaining, or perhaps even constructing, a bow, which would suggest that once again we are scavenging for items and using them to create and maintain stuff. I’m hoping for more of a real world approach to this that involves using actual instruments and resources and not just finding generic ‘scrap metal’ that magically turns into a weapons upgrade. Several bloggers who have reported on further E3 footage have stated that Lara will collect items such as animal hides and antlers to aid her in creating the items she needs.
We also see a variety of locations beyond the snowy mountain tops we’ve become accustom to. One location suggests a prison in an unpleasant corner of the world and is somewhat reminiscent of the one Bruce Wayne finds himself in at the beginning of Batman Begins. I do love that old brick and iron look, and presumably this will be the caught-by-the-bad-guys-and-having-to-escape part of the game that Core was always so fond of back in the day. We also see a very sunny location, which is said to be Syria, as well as a jungle location. These contrasts in location are a nice return to the previous games in which Lara would find herself in all manner of countries with one overarching mystery that unified them. The previous game took place in one location and its idea of variety was to contrast a small forest area with a shanty town. Hopefully, Crystal Dynamics have learned that Tomb Raiders ability to globe trot is a strength and not a weakness.
Overall, I’m still very much looking forward to Rise of the Tomb Raider. There’s just one small problem:
The one question I wanted answered is the one they won’t answer: PlayStation 4 – when? Tomb Raider has never strictly been a PlayStation exclusive, but Lara was, for a long time, thought of as a PlayStation icon. Now, a timed exclusive has prioritised X-Box owners with the developers giving no hints as to when the rest of us can expect to play it. It’s hard not to feel, as a long term player of these games on various iterations of the PlayStation, that I’ve now become second rate, an after thought in the minds of the people who make them. Interesting* way to treat a chunk of your potential buyers.