October 29, 2015

Tomb Raider 2 Now on Android

While most fans were distracted by all the hype surrounding the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider  release, Square Enix stealthily dropped their brand new Tomb Raider II Android app in the Play Store. Like the Tomb Raider 1 app released earlier this year, this mobile port of the classic game includes updated graphics, touchscreen interface, and the Golden Mask expansion pack.

I've only had a chance to take a peek at the first level, but it looks pretty good—well worth the 99¢ price!

TR2 was previously released for Macintosh OSX and iOS, and it's still available for Windows PCs on Steam and GOG.com, and for PS3/PSP/Vita through the PlayStation Store.

As always, you can find my Tomb Raider 1 walkthrough and Golden Mask walkthrough in the usual place.

October 19, 2015

Rise of the Tomb Raider Season Pass and Expeditions FAQ

When the Rise of the Tomb Raider Season Pass and Expedition Cards were announced a few weeks ago, many fans immediately wanted to know more. Crystal Dynamics has provided this Q&A with details on the new game modes, in-game purchases, and unlockable content.

In other news, IGN released a video earlier today showing the first 27 minutes of Rise of the Tomb Raider. I have not watched it yet and will not post it here, since it's obviously chock full of spoilers, but you can follow the link if you want to check it out. Now, on to the FAQ....

UPDATE 7/19/16: The 20th Anniversary Edition for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC includes all Expedition modes, everything in the Season Pass, and more.


Remnant Resistance - Craft custom missions


Score Attack - Customize your cards and experience

EXPEDITIONS

Q: What are Expeditions?

A: Expeditions are additional modes of gameplay in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Each mode allows you to play "Expedition Cards" to modify your experience, and complete challenges for credits, which can be then used to acquire additional cards. At launch, the Expeditions you'll be able to play include Chapter Replay, Chapter Replay Elite, Score Attack, and Remnant Resistance.

Q: Will Expeditions be available on the Xbox 360 version of the game?

A: Yes. Extra gameplay modes will be available on both Xbox One and Xbox 360 with the same content.

Q: What are Chapter Replay and Chapter Replay Elite?

A: The Chapter Replay modes allow you to select and replay parts of Rise of the Tomb Raider's campaign. In Chapter Replay, you start the chapter with pre-determined inventory and skills. In Chapter Replay Elite, you start with the gear in your latest profile data from the campaign.

Q: Can you replay the entire game in Chapter Replay Elite mode?

A: In Chapter Replay and Chapter Replay Elite you choose specific chapters to replay rather than starting the game over in full.

Q: What is Remnant Resistance?

A: Remnant Resistance is an objective-based challenge mode that is played in Rise's large "hub" spaces. You can choose to play existing Remnant Resistance missions made by your friends and the Tomb Raider community, or create your own mission. A Remnant Resistance mission is composed of 5 objectives, which can involve things like taking down a high value target, collecting intel documents, hunting animals, and more. Additionally, as the creator you can set Lara up with the costume and weapons of your choice, as well as apply up to five of the standard expedition cards. Lastly, you can choose where the challenge takes place, at what time, and what weather is active.

The harder the mission, the higher the reward (in credits). However, you must beat your own mission for it to be posted to the leaderboards. Difficulty can vary from objective to objective. For example, a normal difficulty objective to rescue hostages, followed by a high difficulty objective to take down a bear. Players familiar with Hitman: Absolution's Contracts Mode should feel right at home in Remnant Resistance.

Q: Are cards kept forever once I get them, or are they consumable?

A: It depends on the card. The majority of cards are consumed once you've completed a mode. If you've created a Score Attack mission that is too difficult to complete and choose to quit, you won't lose your cards.

Some cards are what we call "Foil Cards." Foils are cards that are not consumed on use. All costume and weapon cards are foils to make sure Remnant Resistance players don't have to worry about setting up player inventory.

Q: Are there any cards that can only be acquired with microtransactions or by buying the seasons pass? Is Big Head Mode gated behind a pay wall?

A: Cards associated with pre-orders and DLC will be available with their associated downloadable content. The Big Head Mode card is not a pre-order exclusive and has a chance to show up in any card pack.

Q: Do I have to buy or earn credits to start using cards when I first play the game?

A: You're automatically given a starter set of cards when you first begin playing so you can experiment with our extra game modes. Earning or purchasing additional cards beyond the starter set is up to you, and you are never required to purchase a card in order to play a gameplay mode.

Q: Do I need cards in order to play Expeditions?

A: Chapter Replay modes and Score Attack can be played once you've unlocked a level, without using any cards. Remnant Resistance requires location and objective cards, several of which are provided when you first start the game.

Q: How do I get credits?

A: There are many ways for you to earn credits to use in Rise of the Tomb Raider's Expeditions:
  1. Playing the campaign. Various activities such as challenges, finding relics, and story progression will gift players with additional credits.
  2. Challenge Tombs. Completing challenge tombs while playing the campaign will earn you additional credits.
  3. Backpacks. Similar to Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris' canopic jars, when people on your friends list die they will occasionally leave a backpack where they fell. Finding one of these backpacks while playing campaign will net you some credits.
  4. Expedition Challenges. In Chapter Replay, Chapter Replay Elite, and Score Attack, you can select up to five challenges to attempt when selecting a chapter to play. Completing challenges results in a credit reward, the value of which is determined by the difficulty of the challenge.
  5. Score Attack. As previously mentioned, if you score high enough in a game of Score Attack to earn a medal, you will earn credits based on which medal you earn.
  6. Remnant Resistance. Playing and completing missions will earn you credits both for completing objectives and for entire missions.
  7. Playing other Square Enix games. Players who register as a Square Enix member will get credits for playing other games such as Life is Strange, Hit Man and Deus Ex.
There are additional ways to earn credits in Rise of the Tomb Raider, ensuring you always have enough cards to experiment and challenge your friends in Expeditions.

Q: How many credits do I get when I earn some? How many credits do I need to buy card packs?

A: We've worked hard to ensure card packs can be unlocked as quickly as they are consumed.

Q: Are credits used to unlock outfits?

A: No. Expedition credits are only used to purchase card packs. There are alternate means of crafting and unlocking costumes in the single-player campaign.

Q: When you guys talked about letting players compete with each other, what did you mean? Is there a competitive multiplayer mode?

A: There are no multiplayer modes in Rise of the Tomb Raider. However, there are ways in which you can face off against your friends and the Tomb Raider community:
  1. Score Attack. You can look at Score Attack leaderboards and see how your friends or the community have scored per chapter. You can bring up the details of a player's performance, including their kills, deaths, and what cards they used. If you think you can do better than they did, you can challenge their score, which costs a small value of credits per card the player used. This way you can challenge your friends' scores, even if you don't have the cards they used.
  2. Remnant Resistance. When you post a Remnant Resistance challenge, your friends are able to play it. When you play someone else’s Remnant Resistance challenge, your score on their challenge is tracked, with the top 3 players being posted on the challenge. A week after the challenge was posted, the player with the highest score in that challenge is awarded credits and the challenge is removed.


Score Attack Mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider


Remnant Resistance Mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider

SEASON PASS

Q: Is there a difference between the season pass for Xbox One and Xbox 360?

A: The content for the Season Pass for Xbox One and Xbox 360 will be the same.

Q: Is there an edition of the game that comes with the season pass?

A: Yes, the digital deluxe edition on the Xbox Store includes the full base game and the season pass. You can also pre-order to receive the Remnant Resistance pack.

Q: Was extra content pulled out of the core game for the season pass?

A: No. After Rise of the Tomb Raider went gold, the team shifted focus to creating content for the season pass, including much-requested story DLC, and two additional Expedition modes.

NOTE: The Season Pass also includes the upcoming expansion packs Endurance Mode, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, and Cold Darkness Awakened. The Official Tomb Raider Blog has details.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Expedition Cards
Rise of the Tomb Raider Expedition Cards can be purchased or earned by completing in-game challenges

October 18, 2015

Reminder for Email Subscribers

I know I've posted a lot today, but I wanted to send one final reminder about email subscriptions. As of October 31, I will no longer be using Feedburner to deliver updates. If you'd like to continue receiving posts from Stella's Tomb Raider Blog in your inbox, or if you're a new subscriber and want to sign up, please do so through Bloglovin'.

Just follow this link to subscribe.

After verifying your email address, you can choose to receive email for each post, weekly updates, only read posts only on the Bloglovin' site, or download the Bloglovin' mobile app.

If you are receiving more email from Bloglovin' than you'd like, you can change your preferences by going to the Bloglovin' settings page and checking/unchecking various options. You can also edit your privacy settings (i.e., whether other users can see which blogs you follow) from that page.

If you still follow my blog using an RSS feed reader, nothing will change for you.

Those who do follow me through Bloglovin' and Feedburner will receive a few duplicate posts during the few weeks when both services are active, but after November 1 everything will be handled through Bloglovin'.

If you have any questions or problems with the service, please do let me know. Thanks for following! —Stella

Lara Croft GO Soundtrack Free on SoundCloud

As if a major Relic Run update wasn't enough, this week developers Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix Montréal treated fans to a free soundtrack release in honor of "Lara Croft GO Music Week."

These atmospheric tracks were created by Pixel Audio, a three-man team comprised of Ulric Corbeil Trudel, Eric Shaw, and Mathieu Beaudet. Listen using the player below or pop on over to SoundCloud to download the entire Lara Croft GO OST.


Crystal Dynamics' SoundCloud also includes a recently released preview track from Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is being scored by Game of Thrones composer Bobby Tahouri. The complete Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris OST is available as well.

Lara Croft Go screenshot

10 Million Downloads and an Update for Lara Croft Relic Run

Earlier this week Lara Croft Relic Run passed a major milestone: 10 million downloads across all platforms. To celebrate, the mobile adventure-runner received a content update, which includes a revamped interface, new game modes, and the much-anticipated Mountain Pass area.

Lara Croft Relic Run new menu interface
Lara Croft Relic Run updated level menu. Screenshot courtesy of Raider Daze.

Here's a quick rundown of the new features:

Structured levels – Instead of two major locations with endlessly repeating scenery, each area is now broken down into 40 smaller levels of increasing difficulty. Levels alternate between relic finding and other challenges, such as score/coin collecting, killing enemies, collecting gems, and so on. Endless running is still an option, though. Once you've completed a level, return to the main menu, tap the infinity icon at the bottom left corner of the screen and go, go, go!

Upgrades tied to advancement – In the original game, most weapons and other upgrades were solely dependent on the number of coins or gems you were able to collect. Play enough, even in the first area, and you would be able to unlock most of the goodies. In the updated game, upgrades are linked to level progression.

Mountain Pass area – Upon beating level 80, players unlock this icy location featuring new enemies like spiders and yeti, a new vehicle: the snowmobile, and a new unlockable weapon: the minigun.

Clue counter and ability to save clues – In Relic Run's original incarnation, players collected clues during each run in order to unlock relics. This is still the main way to advance, but now the clue meter clearly indicates the number of clues you've found and how many are needed in order to unlock the next relic. (This is not shown in the screenshots below but can be seen here.) Also, if you fail a run before unlocking the next relic, a new feature allows you to save your clues. You must spend gems to do so, but it may be worthwhile in the more difficult later levels.

Revamped in-game purchases – There are a few new things to buy, and more of the upgrades require gems to unlock. On the plus side, achievements are now rewarded with gems, and there seem to be more gems scattered through the levels. Still, I've heard many players complaining that it's difficult to advance in the later parts of the game without buying gems.

Overall I like most of these changes, and I'm looking forward to exploring the Mountain Pass. Unfortunately, after installing the update, the game no longer runs on my phone. I hope this will be fixed eventually. I had to wait a few months beyond the initial release before my device was supported. Most players I've spoken with have found the transition trouble-free, and were able to keep their accumulated progress, unlocked items, achievements, and in-game purchases following the update.

Just to recap, Lara Croft Relic Run is free but includes optional in-app purchases. It's available for iOS and Android. There is also a Windows Phone version, but it has not yet received the update.

If you don't own a device that can run the game, it is possible to play on PC or Mac using the Bluestacks Android emulator.


Lara Croft Relic Run Mountain Pass screenshots

GameSpot Rise of the Tomb Raider Week

With Rise of the Tomb Raider's Xbox launch less than a month away, the game has been gettingg a lot of press. This past week, GameSpot ran a series of interviews with the game developers focusing on the evolution of Lara Croft both physically and psychologically, as well as technically. In case you missed any of those stories, here's a recap. Note that these features and the accompanying videos do include some minor spoilers.


A more realistic Lara Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Is Lara Struggling With Her Sanity? – Game Director Brian Horton and Creative Director Noah Hughes delve into the motivations that drive Lara forward into her next adventure.

Lara Croft Isn't a Super Hero – This video explores the ideas and the tech used to bring the newest Lara Croft to life.

Rise of the Tomb Raider's True-to-Life World – Game Director Brian Horton discusses the location scouting and research behind the game's settings and reveals several new pieces of concept art.

5 New Badass Skills in Rise of the Tomb Raider – Short video detailing some of Lara's new skills and upgrades. Needless to say, this contains some minor spoilers.

Rise of the Tomb Raider and the Writer Behind It All – Writer Rhianna Pratchett talks about the special challenges of writing for videogames and crafting a compelling story for a blockbuster sequel.

Expanding on the coverage in the last feature, Pratchett pointed out in a recent series of tweets that writing for this or any video game is a team effort. She stressed that "the narrative of a game will be created and supported by many different team members." For Rise, that includes Lead Narrative Designer John Stafford and writers Cameron Suey and Philip Gelatt. "I did flag up the guys in my answers," Pratchett said, "but they didn't make it into the [Gamespot] feature, it seems."

Other recent GameSpot coverage:


Rise of the Tomb Raider premieres on Xbox 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.


Rise of the Tomb Raider concept art.

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.

UPDATE - October 19: A follow-up post, Rise of the Tomb Raider Season Pass and Expeditions FAQ, provides further details about the features introduced here.

*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.
Tomb Raider Archives - Collecting all the classic Top Cow Comics
Tomb Raider Archives 4-volume set collects 50 issues of the best-selling Top Cow comic. Order from TFAW, Amazon, or Amazon UK.