Gamescom 2016, you have been magnificent. As the crowds withdrew on the final day of Gamescom, I was able, for a second, to sit back and reflect upon my spectacular week in Cologne. What a week it had been, I had seen and experienced so much, but at the end of the show, one game bounced around my brain and refused to let my imagination lie: Rise of The Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition.
More Gamescom 2016 reports:
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4 Fantastic Surprises: The Best Games I Played At Gamescom 2016
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Square Enix and Xbox have collaborated brilliantly to create something very special for the 20th anniversary of the iconic Tomb Raider franchise. To celebrate the occasion at Gamescom, Square Enix took VR to the show floor. That’s right, for the first time ever; fans were able to play through an, all new, environment as Lara Croft in virtual reality.
The new game chapter, that we were able to play through, is called ‘Blood Ties’ and sees the player stumbling through the dilapidated interior of Croft Manor as Lara Croft. Ownership of the mansion is in repute between Lara and her Uncle, so Lara must explore the Manor, including all the hidden areas, in order to find proof of ownership.
As this is a Lara Croft based game, set in virtual reality, the first chapter, 'Blood Ties' does not include any combat. Instead it leans towards the puzzle based aspect of Tomb Raider gameplay and has the player scrambling high and low looking for secret doors, hidden switches and other surreptitious pathways as we progress ever further through the derelict Manor.
The gameplay is delicious both in and out of VR – it truly captures the spirit of the franchise, the secrets, the hidden treasures and the subtle clues that lead you through your adventure. Lara Croft has never looked, felt or sounded better; Square Enix have taken this golden franchise, and given true longevity – they have guaranteed the future of one of gaming's most beloved protagonists.
So, exploring the manor in VR was awesome, exploring the manor without VR was awesome, but the experience was not over just yet. Something truly unexpected and terrifying awaited the fans – Lara’s Nightmare!
Lara’s Nightmare introduces a real quality horror element to the already brilliant game. If this were a dedicated zombie horror game, I would have been happy – Lara’s Nightmare sees the player, either in or out of VR, taking on hordes of zombies as Lara fights to take back control of her house.
The introduction of zombies to a video game is nothing spectacularly new but honestly, this latest chapter is brilliantly brutal. The spirits of the underworld stalk the halls of Croft Manor in this genuinely terrifying chapter of Rise of the Tomb Raider. You must both, outwit and outgun the evil scourge that bears down upon you.
The essence of Tomb Raider remains strong, the introduction of such a pronounced horror element doesn’t in anyway feel out of place, it is a fabulous achievement for Square Enix that have managed to engineer this horror element so perfectly. I tell you what though, this will not be an easy ride for those of you that play Lara’s Nightmare in VR – prepare yourself!
Both chapters will be available to play across, Xbox One, PS4 and PC, come October 11. This includes PlayStation VR.
Certainly one of my top picks from Gamescom 2016, this truly is worth trying, especially if you are a PlayStation gamer. PlayStation may have been late to the previous Tomb Raider parties due to Xbox exclusivity, but now, not only will you be able to pick up the game, you will be able to play in VR. Thank you Gamescom 2016 and thank you Square Enix!