Rise of the Tomb Raider first hands-on impressions

Lara Croft's next outing is getting quite the publicity. Not least because, initially anyway, it'll be exclusive to the Xbox One. I think it's fair to say that I got drawn too far into the hype. I don't like it when that happens, because you often set yourself up to be let down.

Fortunately that doesn't seem to be the case with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Because it looks like we're in for a treat.

We managed to snag some brief play time at EGX in Birmingham, where Rise of the Tomb Raider was the main Xbox attraction alongside Microsoft's crown jewel, Halo 5. The lines for Tomb Raider were on par with those for Halo, reinforcing the idea that there's an awful lot of interest in it. Microsoft is, after all, including the new Lara Croft adventure in its "greatest Xbox line up of all time."

Rise of the Tomb Raider

The demo I got to see at EGX was something of a traditional Tomb Raider style mission. It takes place in what's best described as, well, a tomb. We're a far cry from the snowy mountain scene we've seen in previous gameplay videos here. Instead, we're in the Middle East, charging along a dusty trail along the Syrian border. There wasn't much hint of what the prevailing storyline is but it appears that the gentleman driving Lara has "sold her out" as bullets come raining down.

Next thing you know you've had a crash and you're underground in a network of catacombs. From here on out the experience is very familiar. We've all heard about the new, grittier, more lethal Lara Croft, but in what I saw in this mission at least, there's also plenty of the 'old' Lara, too. You've got some puzzles to figure out along the way to your objective, because what fun is an easy ride? Shooting things, climbing, swimming, it's all there. And then you stay underwater too long.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

The gameplay feels very familiar too, or it does if you've played the previous Tomb Raider game. To be clear, that isn't a bad thing. Not at all. The previous game was superb, as this one is shaping up to be. But I've come to a couple of key takeaways from my all too brief encounter with Rise of the Tomb Raider.

This game feels good for all the right reasons. It looks great, it plays great, it's challenging and overall enjoyable. It could turn out all the other missions are terrible, but somehow, I don't think that's going to be the case. It may not be too much of a departure from the previous game, but that's fine. There's an old saying that fits well here: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The other thing that I'm left with is a feeling that it's the stuff we haven't seen yet that will really make this game shine. I wouldn't say the demo on the show floor was boring, but it was closer to traditional Tomb Raider than perhaps some of the earlier videos were. Lara wasn't too much of a badass here, but we know from earlier gameplay demos she's not going to take any prisoners.

There's so much we haven't seen yet and I honestly think its that we should get excited for. There's the potential for a great story to be told, and thankfully we don't have to wait too much longer to hear the rest of it.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

30 Comments
  • I didn't understand what is meant by "And then you stay underwater too long." Can you elaborate?
  • I died ;-)
  • I get it now, thanks.
  • Can't wait for Rise of Tomb Raider on PC!
    I'll be jealous of Xbox One owners for getting it earlier...
  • You still play games on a PC? Hahahahahaha!
  • Yes and Consoles.
  • PC is definitely superior to Xbox... No comparison. 
  • Don't forget that it is coming to multiple PC stores, including the Windows 10 Store, so if you want to maximize your support for Microsoft, get it from there.
  • I played this at EGX in Birmingham too. I'm looking forward even more now but Vermintide is still the game I enjoyed playing the most there.
  • How 'bout that Tornado energy drink, huh?!
  • Just finnished the previous game, and it was awesome. Great scenery, cool story, graphics were good and Lara herself has a great clevage. There, I said what we all think ;)  Really looking forward to this one :D 
  • Only 12 percent into it. But I love it. Family takes up. A lot of time, so less time for Laura
  • Can't wait for this. Never ever liked TR, but I loved the reboot. I need finish mgs5 first, damn you Destiny!
  • Shame it's xbox exclusive :/ I myself just prefer to Playstation. I don't want to get xbox too. And please people don't hang me because this! ^^ Xbox is good too.
  • Ps4 sucks. Sell it. NOW
  • If you can wait a year, I believe it is coming to the PS4. There is no reason to hang you mate.
  • yeah its coming to PS4 after Xbox exclusive ends (1year)
  • I just wish Street Fighter V was only a one year exclusive to PS4. That one's going to be tough for me. But there's no way I'm adding another console considering my very limited gaming time. Sigh.
  • Get it on steam for PC, forget playstation, Sony did that deliberately. And capcom agreed to it. The question is will they play sf5 for evo. Xbox has less input lag and is the better console for fighting games.
  • There is no question - SF5 will definitely be at EVO. Even if it's hot garbage, it will be there at least once.
  • Killer Instinct is the best 2D fighting game on the market. I'd forget about Street Fighter 55 and get into KI instead.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed exclusive and should be out on the PS4 about a year following the Xbox One release. It's a shame anyone gets left out with exclusives. Personally, I prefer Xbox, but that decision certainly wasn't built upon any exclusivity of a title or franchise. It's a sad, but understandable, state of affairs where hardware vendors dump piles of money to bring a title to their platform, even for a short time, to entice the impulsive buyer to get hooked on their system. Simply, they need to drive the platform sales. There are games on the PS4 that I would enjoy trying, but there are too few of them for me to justify buying a 2nd current generation system. I will be buying the next Tomb Raider game regardless of it being an exclusive, timed exclusive or multiplatform title. While a suitable library of games is important on any platform, being a mainstream platform one is generally certain to see the main selection of wide release titles, platform selection should be based on the inherent strengths of the platform features not just what the vendor has bought to dangle in front of you in a cliché carrot and stick approach. It's in these situations being a gamer is somewhat exhausting.
  • Its fine liking playstation. I'm just disappointed in the lack of exclusives Sony has over the next 18 months. They have alot of Japanese games, but those games are terrible. Japanese games from the 90s and early 2000s were amazing. What's coming now is a shadow of its former glory. Microsoft certainly has a far more impressive lineup this year and next. All these indie games on ps4 just isn't gonna cut it. I have no idea why Sony refuse to give us decent exclusives. The only decent one coming is uncharted 4. Just indies and poorly made Japanese games.
  • Soon in my saloon on the 40" LED light HD screen night lamps vodka window and sky... Will be a long night.
  • Looking forward to this one. As Toub rader was free on the Xbox one, I started playing it again....
  • So when do we get this on PC?
  • Next year I think.
  • First impressions, its not on ps4 yet. Impression over. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So impressed with xbox one over the next 18 months. The lineup is so impressive. Forza 6 which om currently playing is just a masterstroke of a racing game. Best so far this generation by a country mile. I regret buying project cars now I've played forza 6. With halo 5, tomb raider, quantum break, crackdown 3, scalebound, gears of war 4, sea of thieves, forza horizon 3, killer instinct season 3, recore and halo wars 2 all confirmed 100% coming in the next 16 months I don't know what im going to do. Very impressive aaa lineup.
  • http://goo.gl/IIw7MC