Last year, Square Enix released one of the best games we saw in all of 2015, Rise of the Tomb Raider. The time has come for the game to land on PS4 and still, few games can measure up to the excellence found in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is a collection that encompasses all of the DLC released for the game as well as the full game. Not only does it deliver the amazing experience we saw last year, but it also adds a new piece of DLC in the form of Blood Ties.

Blood Ties is a narrative add-on that reveals more background info on Lara Croft and her family. Unlike the game’s previously released DLC Baba YagaBlood Ties is more about exploring and listening rather than exploring and combat.

Blood Ties shows off the Croft Manor and the secrets that are hidden within it. Square Enix did a great job of creating intrigue behind Lara’s relationship with her father, mother and even her brother. It will be interesting to see how Crystal Dynamics chooses to incorporate her family into future Tomb Raider installments.

Croft Manor looks rundown and broken, with water trickling down into its main hall. There are nooks and crannies filled with artifacts and documents for players to find. At times, the building looks more like a structure out of The Last of Us with trees and branches having broken through windows and walls.

A peek inside Croft Manor from the Blood Ties DLC (Courtesy of Square Enix).
A peek inside Croft Manor from the Blood Ties DLC (Courtesy of Square Enix).

While Croft Manor was not a focus in Rise of the Tomb Raider at all, perhaps Crystal Dynamics is building up to it being featured more prominently in their next Tomb Raider game. Will players use Croft Manor as a base? Is this going to be a location where Lara can train, acquire new equipment or gain missions?

As Lara herself states at the end of Blood Ties, she wants to honor her family and ancestors. Perhaps this is a nod to where Crystal Dynamics will head with their follow-up to Rise of the Tomb Raider.

For those who haven’t yet had the chance to play Rise of the Tomb Raider, it’s an amazing experience. The game challenges players both with its combat and its tombs. There are many, many secrets for people to find, not just in the form of relics or documents either.

I remember playing through the campaign last year and it was an absolutely joy to do so again recently. Crystal Dynamics delivers one of the more underrated narratives, with exceptional plot twists and compelling characters you can relate to.

One of many beautiful views gamers will find in Rise of the Tomb Raider (Courtesy of Square Enix).
One of many beautiful views gamers will find in Rise of the Tomb Raider (Courtesy of Square Enix).

Characters in Rise of the Tomb Raider are some of my favorite in any action game over the last year. Jonah is a loyal friend of Lara’s who sticks by her no matter what. Jacob is a influential local who you find out has an unusual set of skills. Finally, Ana, Lara’s stepmother, turns out to be the character you think she is.

Each of these characters deliver compelling performances and their motives aren’t always clear. The level of unpredictability in Rise of the Tomb Raider makes the narrative a must-have. Crystal Dynamics didn’t go too far with the twists, and made sure each of them made sense.

Lara Croft continues to evolve and be a very relatable character for players to get behind. Her struggles are real and the issues she grapples with are true. Crystal Dynamics has brought Lara into the present through a compelling evolution and I’m thrilled to see where her journeys take her to next.

Crafting is a very important part of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Scavenging and searching for resources is essential to building up Lara’s arsenal. Each of her weapons have upgrades or customizations players can make.

Choosing Lara’s outfit, customizing weapons and picking new skills for her to learn are all part of making the experience your own. While the gunplay is rewarding, I found Lara’s bow and arrow to be the most satisfying. For me, her bow creates the most compelling combat of all the weapons. That said, the shotgun is a fun one to use her and there.

One of the first tombs you'll find in Rise of the Tomb Raider (Courtesy of Square Enix).
One of the first tombs you’ll find in Rise of the Tomb Raider (Courtesy of Square Enix).

Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have hit their stride with the Tomb Raider franchise. Lara Croft has proven to be one of the best heroes you’ll want to root for. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is one of the most complete experiences you’ll find this year.

To learn more, we spoke with Square Enix about Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Tomb RaiderSquare Enix provided We Write Things with a PS4 code of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration for the purposes of this review. 

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that. Contact me at weplaythingssteve@gmail.com

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