2015 was considered by many to be one of the most impressive years for gamers. Titles like Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront marked the fulfillment of longtime fan expectations, while other titles such as Bloodborne and Splatoon show the new ideas of innovators in the industry. With such a host of games coming out in such a short period of time, the majority of gamers were forced to choose just a handful of titles to spend their hard-earned money on. Unfortunately, this left some truly breathtaking worlds unexplored and forgotten, including Crystal Dynamics' Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Stumbling Out Of The Gate
Rise of the Tomb Raider's November 10, 2015 release date placed it right in the thick of the pre-Black Friday release frenzy, in theory setting it up to be a runaway holiday success. However, this release date also pitted it against Fallout 4 — a game many considered to be the most significant release of the year.
This wasn't the only challenge that Rise of the Tomb Raider would have to overcome. Like it's predecessor, it was released as an Xbox One console exclusive. While it was eventually released on PC (a move that significantly boosted it's sales), the majority of gamers tend to play on consoles. Needless to say, alienating the PlayStation 4 users from the release certainly didn't help Rise during its already challenging uphill battle against the other Goliath releases of the season.
At the end of November, Rise of the Tomb Raider didn't even manage to make it into the top 10 in the NPD report for the month. However, the game did begin to make a comeback as the year drew to a close, with it being named the best-selling digital Xbox One title during the week of Christmas (you have to spend those gift cards on something, right?) and actually ended up hitting 1 million copies sold by the end of 2015.
As the awards season was beginning to wind down, the public's perspective of Rise of the Tomb Raider became abundantly clear. The game was both nominated for and the eventual winner of several awards honoring everything, from the game's writing and narrative to the sheer technical achievement. However, it was placed in the backlogs and on the wish lists of many as they continued to scavenge the Wasteland of Boston or lead Blue Team as Master Chief.
'So You're Saying There's A Chance...'
After nearly a year on the market, Crystal Dynamics' underappreciated gem is making its way to the PlayStation 4, with a few bonus bells and whistles to make this Rise of the Tomb Raider experience the definitive one. With Lara Croft celebrating 20 years as one of the most iconic gaming heroines in the medium, we will be celebrating with PS4's Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration.
This version of the game comes bundled with all the downloadable content that was released for the original release, including more story-based content, a survival mode, and a zombie-style expansion in addition to bonus weapons, outfits, and in-game bonus cards. However, the fun of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration doesn't end there.
With the impending release of PlayStation VR, Crystal Dynamics is also adding more experimental content by way of the story-based DLC, entitled "Blood Ties." In contrast to the rest of the game, this sequence features no actual combat, but rather, lets the player wander around the crumbling remnants of Croft Manor in search of a secret room. Aside from "Blood Ties," Endurance Mode is getting cooperative play, the main campaign will be more challenging, and Lara gets more gear with the addition of outfits and weapons that commemorate both the anniversary and the origins of the Tomb Raider franchise.
Is History Destined To Repeat Itself?
All of these new additions to the experience are certainly welcome, especially for PS4 owners that have had to wait nearly a year for the title to go multi-platform. However, Rise of the Tomb Raider finally hopping the pond and spreading out to the other end of the spectrum is more than just a simple port. It's the fulfillment of what Crystal Dynamics' continuation of Croft's story should have been last year. Now, what many people consider to be a narrative that rivals the masterful works of Naughty Dog's Uncharted franchise isn't held back by exclusivity.
However, with games like Battlefield 1, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, and Shadow Warrior 2 coming out, it seems all too possible that Rise of the Tomb Raider may experience a strong case of déjà vu. It's not rocket science — people love nostalgia. Events like walking through the gates of Whiterun in Skyrim or infiltrating radioactive zones controlled by the Russians in "Ghillie in the Mist" are iconic moments for an entire generation of gamers that grew up as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 rose to popularity.
Let's say that a guy or gal of this generation is working hard at college and manages to scrounge up $60 to spare for a new game to kill time on the weekends. Will this person be more likely to choose a graphically remastered title that played such a huge part in their formative years, or a relatively new reboot of an older franchise? The answer varies from person to person, though it wouldn't be too outlandish to believe that nostalgia factor could have a strong influence on the gamer's choice.
Aside from spreading the message of how extraordinary every aspect of Rise of the Tomb Raider actually is, there isn't much else that can be done to convince gamers across platforms that the game is worth their time and money. Regardless of whether or not history looks back on Rise of the Tomb Raider as the work of art that it truly is, the game itself will always serve as evidence of the incredible creativity and technical achievement of those passionate developers at Crystal Dynamics.
Do you plan on playing 'Rise of the Tomb Raider'?
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is out now on PlayStation 4.