Video Games

Less is More: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the follow up to the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider series. It had a few missteps but was overall a really enjoyable experience. However in certain aspects I have to say that sometimes less can be more. Throughout the game you collect a number of different power ups, items, etc, but by the end I felt a few of them just weren’t needed. The following is things that I think Rise of the Tomb Raider could have done without.

Arrow Climb

When I first found out this would be in the game I was actually kind of excited. It makes sense for all the climbing that Lara does, and the use of the new bow. Logically it would seem she would find some way to use arrows in order to help her climb. The execution of this particular power up fails to impress though. It suffers from a number of problems. One, it doesn’t show up until nearly the end of the game. You are on the last moments before Lara unlocks this ability, and by then you’ve gotten so many other abilities it just feels like one too many. Also since it doesn’t unlock until so late in the game, it feels like the developers try to cram as much use of it as possible towards the end. It’s overused at such a late stage. The second problem is it slows down action to almost a complete stop. Placement of the arrows needs to be just so for this to work, and it takes time. The game is nice enough that every time you want to use it the action comes to a grinding stop so that you have the time to get the placement down. It’s nice that they do that to make it easier to use, but is pretty terrible that you will be in a fast paced moment then just bam, stop. Considering Lara has tons of other options when it comes to climbing, many of which don’t break the pace of the action, I don’t think anyone would miss the climbable arrows if they weren’t put in.

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Different Versions of the Weapons

Once again this makes a lot of sense, and is pretty close to being spot on. There are four main weapons, and then a few versions of each one. The problem is many of those versions are just unnecessary and becomes something to collect without actually being helpful. It’s not hard to unlock the best version of a weapon before completing some of the lower stage versions of it. So you are stuck looking for parts to a pistol that frankly you will never use, or need. If I am going to grind out collecting parts for a weapon I want the reward to be worth it, in this game most of them just aren’t. I wouldn’t say take out all of the upgrades to the weapons, it’s rather nice to build up to those moments. That being said the game probably wouldn’t have lost much if there were one or two fewer of each weapon.

The Coins/Shop

This is another really great idea, that just fails to execute. Throughout the game you can find coins, which you can then use to buy various things like outfits, guns, etc for Lara. The idea is cool, though none of the items really feel like they need to be purchased that way. There is something equivalent to everything you can purchase from the shop that can be found in various ways through the game. You can buy outfits from the shop, or find outfits in the world. You can buy weapons from the shop, or find them in the world. Basically the shop just seems like filler for what already exists in other ways. It feels like coin hunting is identical to chest hunting because the rewards/benefits are nearly identical. The shop could have been completely left out of the game, and instead just put all the shop items in chests that you find through the game. The only way I could really see getting behind leaving the shop in, is if the items were truly unique to the shop. For instance if outfits could have only been unlocked by purchasing them with coins.

On the Fly Crafting

Once again an idea that seems really good, just doesn’t actually work out. On the fly crafting is mostly meant for Lara to pick up items to craft into various throw-able weapons. They are extremely useful, such as an exploding grenade. The problem is the actual system doesn’t work well. First and most annoying Lara will often fail to pick up the items needed. You will be running around like mad and see a bottle to make into a molotov cocktail, it seems perfect to help clear the enemies, until Lara missing picking up the item over and over and over. To really make sure that you can grab the right items for this on the fly crafting you often need to stop, adjust Lara so she’s targeting it just right, then hit the prompt. This makes it less “on the fly” and more “pause action and hope you don’t get killed”. The on the fly crafting works great when you are stealth, but that’s usually not when you need it. So you have something that in theory is really helpful, but in actual execution works exactly wrong for the gameplay. The other problem is the further you get into the game the more realize all the on the fly crafting items are basically the exact same thing, and that the crafting system isn’t really fleshed out enough to be worthwhile. A better solution would be the option to have throw-able weapons on you at all times.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider seems to suffer from trying to do too much in it’s limited hours of gameplay. In an effort to be something more than the first game you end up with things that actually hurt the overall experience. It’s an important lesson for all sequels, adding things just to make it different isn’t always going to help. While you want the second (or third, or fourth) in a series to be different than the previous games, you don’t want to add things that damage the experience, just to have more. These four things could have been removed entirely, or fleshed out, without damaging the overall experience and still making Rise of the Tomb Raider a great sequel. All that negativity aside though, the game is still a lot of fun, it just could have been a bit more so.

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