Also available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows
I was a fairly later comer to the Tomb Raider reboot several years ago. I skipped it on PS3, thinking "Eh, Tomb Raider was okay, but I'm not in any big hurry to play the reboot." I ended up picking up the PS4 rerelease on a whim because it was less than $20 at Gamestop, and my whole view of that series changed. I was sucked into the world and the exploration, and when Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced, I was extremely excited. I almost got it for Xbox One on release day, but as I prefer collecting for the PlayStation 4, I decided to wait and see if the exclusivity would be a timed thing with a later (and probably superior) PS4 version later released. My patience paid off.
First off, if you've played the reboot from a few years ago, then you've basically played this game. They play almost exactly same. This one just has a different setting, different foe, and takes places at the beginning of Lara's tomb raiding career. In this case, however, more of the same is fantastic. You get a LOT of optional quests, tombs, and collectables, and there are numerous weapon and equipment upgrades to get in addition to level up perks. One area in which Rise of the Tomb Raider VASTLY improves over its predecessor is the design of the optional challenge tombs. In the first game, the optional tombs were almost all extremely short and extremely simple. There are still a couple of short optional tombs in Rise of the Tomb Raider, but the puzzles that you have to solve in order to complete the tomb are MUCH better designed. They actually make you think instead of insulting your intelligence like some of the tombs in the previous game came off as.
Oddly enough, one of my favorite parts of the game wasn't the story (though it was quite good) or the wide array of special ammo for the weapons (though that was awesome) but the hunting. I really, really enjoyed being able to sneak up on a rabbit or a squirrel and blow it to smithereens with a grenade fired from a rifle mounted launcher or rush into a bear's den and unload into its gaping maw with a submachine gun or an assault rifle. The best is when there's a Siberian lynx running at you to eat you and you fire a flaming shotgun blast into its face. The possibilities are wide and universally entertaining.
Since I have the PS4 anniversary edition, I have all of the DLC, but the only one I've played was the Baba Yaga mission set since it's accessible during the main game as opposed to being an extra game mode. It fits in very nicely with the rest of the game and is a REALLY fun little set of side missions. My only grip with it is the challenge. Most areas have at least one challenge, something you can do just for the sake of experience and completion. With the Baba Yaga area, you have to shoot ten hanging lanterns. Easy enough, right? It would be if I hadn't had two glitch out one me. The actual lantern part just vanished entirely, so I was left to try to hunt down two tiny wooden blocks floating WAAAAAY above me as I'm on a moving platform that I can't control. To make matter worse, the tiny wooden blocks are all hanging right in front of and underneath large wooden beams, making them practically invisible. To make matters worst, part of their glitch-seizure was that they were pinging all around the radius of the rope from which they were hanging, making it virtually impossible to shoot. I had to equip my shotgun with the fastest firing rate and just spam in the general direction in hopes that I eventually hit something. It took a few passes before I eventually did manage to shoot them, completing the challenge, but damn, it was annoying.
One of the features that most impressed me is one that most players of this game will never experience, and that's the optimization options if you have a PS4 Pro. Xbox One players won't experience this for obvious reasons - they have an Xbox One. PC players always get a wide range of performance tweaking options because of the wide array of computers out there. Most PS4 players probably won't use this because I doubt the PS4 Pro will ever outnumber the standard PS4 (though I could be wrong). For those of us who have this game on PS4 and do have a Pro, however, the game offers three different performance options, something I think is fantastic and worth praising. You can choose between having the standard 1080p visuals but running the game at a solid 60 fps, having the resolution stay at 1080p but using enhanced textures with a minimum 30 fps frame rate, or having the game run natively at 2160p (4K) and target 30 fps. Normally I'll always pick frame rate over visuals, but when the options are two entirely different resolutions, even I will opt for the resolution bump. I tried out on all three settings briefly just to compare, and they're all fantastic. The 1080p60 setting is smooth as silk and a definitely boon to gameplay. The 4K setting that I played almost all of the game on isn't a smooth as I'd like - there were several times the frame rate dropped to between 20 and 30 fps, though those weren't extraordinarily frequent - but looked beautiful, especially when looking at the wider landscapes. The enhanced 1080p30 setting I found to be a sort of inverted Goldilocks, personally. It performed worse than 1080p60 and looked worse than 4K. If you only have a 1080p display, then it will definitely make the game textures look a bit more detailed, but I personally would suggest foregoing that slightly improved texture detail in lieu of the higher frame rate. The lower frame rate drop is really only worth it for the bump to 2160p IMO. The enhanced 1080p definitely improves textures and lighting effects over the standard 1080p, but it's just not enough of an improvement to justify 30 fps.
Regardless of what platform you play on, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a dream for fans of third person adventure games. It may be Uncharted with a heroine, but that heroine kicks ass and has a kick ass game. There's plenty to keep you busy if you go after the optional collectables, and the DLC is solid. I'd suggest playing it on PS4 just because the DLC is bundled, but the important thing is to the play game, no matter if that's on PS4, Xbox One, or PC.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.