October 7, 2015

Rise of the Tomb Raider Game Modes, Season Pass and Microtransactions

Earlier today I posted some Rise of the Tomb Raider pre-order details, including the recently announced Season Pass. Additional info has since been released. As we know, the game will not include a traditional multiplayer mode, but players will be able to extend the 15-30 hours of gameplay in the main game with extra game modes, leaderboards, and a single-player challenge tomb.* The game will also feature "Expedition Cards" to enhance the post-game experience in various ways. Cards can be earned through gameplay or purchased with real money.

While many players, myself included, are not fans of microtransactions outside of free-to-play games, this certainly isn't new for the Tomb Raider series. Recent games have offered buyable perks that could also be unlocked through gameplay, as well as DLC packs with skins, weapons, and playable levels. Love it or hate it, the days of free DLC appear to be dead and buried so deeply that not even Lara Croft could unearth them.

For those who haven't already closed this page and scampered off to rage about the Rise of the Microtransaction, here's what we can expect in terms of DLC.

After completing the main game, there will be several ways to add challenge to replay. These Extra Game Modes will be available at launch:

  • Chapter Replay: Replay earlier chapters of the story. Complete challenges to earn credits.
  • Chapter Replay Elite: Replay earlier chapters of the story with your upgraded skills and equipment and complete challenges to earn credits.
  • Score Attack: Replay levels from the game with a new set of rules. Finish the level quickly for a time bonus. Chain together attacks, movements and collectibles to keep your multiplier high. Complete challenges and collect medals to earn credits.
  • Remnant Resistance: Replay Hub spaces with a new set of goals. Craft your own missions by choosing the objectives, enemies and more. Once you've mastered the mission, challenge friends and the community to beat your high score or play other custom missions created by the community.

Score Attack Mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Remnant Resistance Mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Expedition Cards can be earned through in-game challenges and exploration or purchased with real-world currency. When used, these cards become modifiers in game modes outside of the single player campaign. Some cards are rarer than others, and some offer serious bonuses, while others just have humorous effects like "Big Head Mode," similar to the "Curse of Bes" in Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Common cards can only be used once. Special foil cards can be used any number of times.

Xbox.com now lists Gold, Silver, Challenge, Advantage, and Wild Packs, each containing 5 cards including at least one rare card.

According to Creative Director Noah Hughes, "Expedition Cards offer hundreds of ways to customize your Rise of the Tomb Raider experience. You can also set up challenges for your friends to see if they can beat your scores with the same card setup. We'll have about 300 cards available at launch, and more will be added in the weeks that follow."

Remnant Resistance - Craft custom missions

Score Attack - Customize your cards and experience

The Rise of the Tomb Raider Season Pass, priced at around $30, includes three major releases: Endurance Mode, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch (a new single-player tomb), and Cold Darkness Awakened. These are detailed in my earlier post about Rise of the Tomb Raider pre-orders.

Again, according to Hughes, in addition to the Season Pass DLC, "a steady stream of outfits, weapons, and Expedition Cards beginning on Day 1 and continuing over four months will keep you customizing, expanding, and challenging your friends to new adventures."

For more info check out the official Tomb Raider Blog and this interview with Noah Hughes on Xbox Wire.

Rise of the Tomb Raider will be released on Xbox One and Xbox 360 November 10 in the Americas and Asia, November 13 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The PC version will follow early next year, and the PlayStation 4 version in late 2016.

*The developers have estimated 15 hours of gameplay to finish the story, 30+ hours for 100% completion.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Pre-Order and Season Pass Recap

With the November 10 launch of Rise of the Tomb Raider just over a month away, it's time for the traditional post about pre-orders. Here are the details I've been able to gather about the North American editions. Please check with local retailers or Tomb Raider fansites if you live elsewhere.

Microsoft has just announced the specifics of their Xbox One digital pre-order packs and the Season Pass. The Rise of the Tomb Raider Deluxe Edition (digital version) is priced at $89.99 and includes the following:

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider game download.
  • Season Pass - Includes a range of content that will extend your single-player campaign, and also allow you to compete with friends. Three major releases will challenge you to survive the extreme conditions of Endurance Mode, explore a new tomb that houses an ancient terror in Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, and combat waves of infected predators in Cold Darkness Awakened. In addition, a steady stream of outfits, weapons, and Expedition Cards beginning on Day 1 and continuing over four months will keep you customizing, expanding, and challenging your friends to new adventures.
  • Remnant Resistance DLC pack - Includes the Remnant outfit (shown below) which gives Lara a chance to bandage without using any resources, the Matte Ebony Handgun skin, and the rare Bullet Resistance foil card, which gives Lara extra damage resistance to gunfire.
The regular digital pre-order edition is priced at $59.99 and includes the game and the Remnant Resistance DLC pack but no season pass.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider Season Pass is also available separately through most game sellers, including Xbox and Amazon.

Physical pre-order editions are available through various other North American retailers. Here are the details, according to the official Tomb Raider Blog.

The physical Rise of the Tomb Raider Collector's Edition is priced at $149.99 and is available exclusively online through the Tomb Raider Store. It includes:

  • Full retail copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • 12-inch Lara Croft statue
  • Collectible steel case
  • Replica of Lara's leather journal featured in the game
  • Model of Lara's jade necklace

The Apex Predator Pack is available when you pre-order the game through GameStop and includes the following:

  • The Apex Predator outfit (shown below), which reduces damage inflicted by animals.
  • The upgradeable Python Hand Cannon, which offers incredible stopping power.
  • A card pack including the rare Holy Fire card, which causes enemies killed with melee to burst into flames, damaging and igniting other enemies nearby.

The Hope's Bastion Pack is available from Amazon and includes:

  • The Hope's Bastion outfit, which boosts charged bow shots.
  • The Wreckoner Battle Axe skin.
  • A card pack including the rare Juggernaut foil card, which gives Lara additional armor with each kill for a limited time.

The Sparrowhawk Pack is available through Best Buy and includes:

  • The Sparrowhawk outfit, which boosts Lara's hunting ability.
  • The White Wood Recurve Bow skin.
  • A card pack including the rare Master Hunter foil card, which deals double damage on animals and yields double the resources when hunting.

There is also a Xbox One console bundle, which is available for $399 from Microsoft, Best Buy, and other participating retailers. This includes the following:

  • Xbox One console with 1TB hard drive and wireless controller.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider game download.
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition game download.
  • Exclusive Tactical Survival Kit Content Pack, which contains a new outfit and weapon skin for Lara.

The Xbox 360 edition is also available to pre-order from most of these retailers. As far as I know, there are no special bundles for that version.

As a reminder, the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is available free to Xbox LIVE Gold members through October 15, in case you just bought an Xbox One and don't have that game yet.

I know many of you won't be pre-ordering because the game isn't available yet for the systems you own. Others are boycotting the game due to the Xbox exclusive. I understand that completely. But if you are pre-ordering, I'd be interested to hear which pack you've chosen and why. Please leave a comment below or tweet me @stellalune.

October 2, 2015

Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever Novel Coming in November

Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever, a new novel featuring pre-reboot Lara, will be published November 3.

This stand-alone adventure was penned by Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent, who also collaborated on Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals, which bridges the gap between the 2013 TR reboot and Rise of the Tomb Raider.  Although The Ten Thousand Immortals received mixed reviews, Abnett's Warhammer novels are fan favorites. The prolific writer has also worked on a number of comics and novelizations, several of which were co-authored with Vincent.

According to the blurb on Amazon.com, Blade of Gwynnever was created in conjunction with the game developers at Crystal Dynamics and is set in the same alternate timeline as Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Temple of Osiris. It promises "enough dual-pistol wielding action and sharp wit to please nostalgic fans of the franchise."

Fans of Lara's earlier incarnation can also look forward to a new comic series, Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen from Dark Horse Comics. The first issue of five comes out October 7.

Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever
Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever releases November 3. Order a copy on Amazon.com or Amazon UK.
Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen
Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen issue #1 is now available from Dark Horse Comics. Order at Things From Another World.