RoTR has a vast game world, though not on par with a Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3. Still, the new open world setting really marries well with the explorative theme we associate with the franchise. Picking up where the previous game left off, the story begins as Lara is customarily isolated in a harsh and unforgiving environment. Also, again her body is battered hard by the terrain and the elements.
Yet quickly the player takes Lara from hunting and tree-limb bow-building to wielding military grade weapons and taking down more sophisticated AI than just deer and bears.
There are plenty of side quests and diverging paths to quell your inner-Indiana Jones. Yet much of the gameplay comes down to exploring the expansive locales which includes a great deal of vertical terrain to get to and traverse through the crypts and tombs. Physically moving objects to solve large puzzles makes a return, but this is mostly confined to larger tombs and its not a major part of each new discovery. You will however, gather resources from the environment to take back to the various campsites in the game.
There you can craft better gear, weapons or additional consumables such as your various arrows and other ammo types. Lara is also encouraged to hunt the wildlife for some of her resources and engage in firefights decidedly more exciting than the previous game with smarter enemy AI behavior. Yet more inviting are the many ways to engage the enemy with stealth playing a larger factor. Overall, the game is at its finest when flexing its survivalist muscles pitting you against the elements, terrain and wildlife.
Crystal Dynamics has done a fine job populating the world with plenty to do and see. On the main and side quests, players will find much to investigate for documents, relics, crafting resources and other means to upgrade Lara’s various weapons and abilities or awareness of the world around her. For instance, there are over 50 skills to unlock and upgrade. One of these is the Language skill. Acquiring specific items will upgrade or allow Lara to learn new languages to better glean pertinent knowledge when deciphering complex tombs, paintings and other artifacts. It’s a subtle more passive gameplay mechanic that adds more to the thematic foundation of the game than any of the gun battles found throughout.
Rise of the Tomb Raider offers a well-rounded single player gaming experience excelling in exploration features for which the franchise was founded. In addition, it expands on this in a way that feels organic via an open world survival theme, character customization, loot acquisition and other familiar RPG tropes.