Tomb Raider was successful, so most people knew a sequel would be coming. At E3 2014, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix made it official at the Microsoft press conference. No platforms for Rise of the Tomb Raider were confirmed at that time.
Just a few short months after E3, Microsoft announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be an Xbox exclusive at gamescom, releasing on both Xbox One and Xbox 360. You could almost hear the jaws dropping around the world.
After the surprising Xbox exclusive announcement, Microsoft's Phil Spencer explained that the exclusivity is a timed one. "Yes, the deal has a duration [on Xbox]. I didn't buy it. I don't own the franchise." The game was set to release during the holiday season of 2015, but he didn't say when it would release for PlayStation or PC.
Uncharted 4 was supposed to release in 2015 before it hit several delays into 2016. Regardless, at the time Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced, both Sony and Microsoft believed that PlayStation 4 owners would have Uncharted 4. As such, Phil Spencer said in a gamescom interview that snagging the exclusivity for ROTR was totally an answer to Uncharted 4.
I’m a big fan of Uncharted and I wish we had an action adventure game of that ilk. We’ve started some, and we’ve looked at them. But we don’t have one today of that quality. This is an opportunity.
In between game releases, Crystal Dynamics recruited Dan and Nik Abnett to write a novel that would lead into Rise of the Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals takes place immediately after Lara's return home from the first game and sends her on a crazy adventure across the world to unearth the organization behind recovering Immortality artifacts. It's not required reading for ROTR, but it gives more information on the group Lara goes up against in the game.
Lara doesn't lose all the gear she amassed from the first Tomb Raider title. Instead, she compounds on top of it. Her axe can be upgraded even further, as well as her bow, clothing, and ammunition.
PlayStation 4-owners everywhere collectively breathed a sigh of relief as they learned a year after Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced that it would indeed go to the PS4. The PS4 release would not happen until nearly a year after the Xbox release, meaning Fall/Holiday 2016. With the announcement came the first gameplay reveal for the title.
Game Director Brian Horton said in an interview that the sequel's "exploration spaces are 3 times larger than they were in the last games." However, they have also guaranteed that it will still be a "seamless experience."
There is no multiplayer mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider, as Crystal Dynamics did want to focus on building an incredible core campaign experience. The developer has said that they want to possibly revisit adding in both cooperative and competitive experiences.
Lead Designer Mike Brinker said that the core campaign of Rise of the Tomb Raider should take between 15 and 20 hours to complete. For completionists, however, there is over 40 hours of gameplay and exploration available.
Xbox players were treated to a Season Pass of DLC content that would "extend your single-player campaign, and also allow you to compete with friends." The DLC at this time included the Endurance mode, Baba Yaga tomb DLC, and Cold Darkness Awakened. It's since been announced that PS4 owners have all of this DLC on day one.
After completing the chapters in Rise of the Tomb Raider, players will have the opportunity to replay them with extra challenges.
The purpose of the credits is to purchase Expedition Card packs, which players can use to add modifiers in these extra game modes. Card Packs can be purchased for real world currency as well.
Endurance Mode is an online co-op expansion that allows players to tackle tombs with a friend in "harsh elements" in the wilderness. Check out the 22-minute gameplay video to see how this works out.
The PS4 version of Rise of the Tomb Raider gets fancy new box art and a new title: Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. As a makeup for having to wait a year, PS4 owners will receive all of the Season Pass DLC, a new story DLC called Blood Ties, PSVR support, the Endurance mode, and additional outfits, weapons, and Expedition Cards.
Spoiler-tastic video released of the first 27 minutes of Rise of the Tomb Raider. The video includes the beginning tutorials, cut scenes, and a flashback. View at your own risk, but it will give you a good idea what to expect with the title.
Lead Writer Rhianna Pratchett said in an interview that the oversexualized Lara Croft with the ginormous pointy boobs is a no more. She explains that Lara is still beautiful and strong, but she's not marketed to be sexualized.
The way Lara is marketed now is not sexualized…it’s still beautiful, it’s still strong, it’s still characterful, but it’s not sexualized in the way it was done before.
To be fair, a lot of the sexualization of Lara in the past has been solely for purposes of marketing, and it had a huge sway…As a young female gamer, I’ll admit that I was put off by that kind of marketing of Lara. It was very much like, ‘Hey I’m being sexy for boys here.’ I thought … I’ll go and play another game, then. That’s definitely something that’s very, very much in the past.
Crystal Dynamics made it a goal to get Rise of the Tomb Raider to 1080p resolution and run at 30 frames-per-second (fps), something they could not achieve with the Xbox One. This goal is a bare minimum, where "anything beyond that is a bonus."
Those who pre-order Rise of the Tomb Raider from the PlayStation Store will receive a bonus copy of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. The Definitive Edition was Crystal Dynamics remastering of the 2013 title for the new generation of hardware.
Blood Ties is a new DLC for Rise of the Tomb Raider that was not previously with the Xbox Season Pass. Once the PS4 copy of the game releases on October 11, 2016, the Blood Ties DLC will be available on the Xbox Season Pass. In Blood Ties, Lara will explore her manor and unlock various secrets, including a zombies mode for the mission.
Crystal Dynamics has already worked in PS4 Pro support for Rise of the Tomb Raider to be nice and ready when the new hardware releases.
The Blood Ties DLC will include PSVR support with two control schemes: free mode and comfort mode. The comfort mode allows players to place a virtual transparent Lara "anywhere in your field of vision," and then they can teleport to that point. Blood Ties is strictly an exploration mission with some puzzle solving, which makes it a perfect experience for PSVR. The zombies mode of the DLC, Lara's Nightmare, will also include PSVR support.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration releases October 11, 2016 with PS4 Pro support, PSVR support, all of the DLC, new outfits, new weapons, and even a retro Lara Croft skin as shown to the left.