Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC Hands-on Preview – Better Together

Shadow of the Tomb Raider may be an end of sorts for Lara Croft, but the adventures aren’t over yet. Eidos Montreal is hard at work on its post-launch content, with some of the most impressive support I’ve seen for a single-player game. Starting November 2018, Eidos Montreal plans to support Shadow of the Tomb Raider the next seven months, bringing a new content pack every month. The studio is planning something new with its DLC output, and we got to see it first-hand at NYCC.

Here for the Long Haul

The main focus for each DLC pack for Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be a brand new challenge tomb. These features have quickly become fan-favorites ever since Crystal Dynamic’s 2013 reboot, so it’s great to see more of them being introduced. Each DLC pack will also contain weapons and outfits for Lara to equip. While the first six DLC packs can be bought standalone, the seventh and final will only be available to those who have the season pass.

Eidos Montreal didn’t want to simply bring more tombs to players. Instead, the team wanted to offer something special, thereby introducing co-op challenge tombs for the first time in the series. Five of the seven upcoming tombs are online co-op compatible—no local co-op—but not co-op required. Speaking with the developers, I learned that balancing co-op and solo play proved to be quite the challenge. The team wanted each to be distinct, though they didn’t want one to offer a distinct advantage over the other.

That being said, playing with another player as opposed to alone does completely change the experience. There are paths and puzzles that can only be accessed while in two-player mode. Yes, you will likely be able to beat the challenge tomb faster in co-op, but it’s not necessarily easier. It’s simply different. Co-op is so encouraged that even if you don’t own the Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC, but you own a copy of the game, you can join in on the fun, though you won’t reap as many rewards.

Forge on Ahead

The first Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC is The ForgeIn it, Lara will have to traverse the lava-filled Forge of the Fallen Gods. Seeing as co-op was an early idea for the DLC, and that it is billed as a completely new way to play, I decided to play it with another player. One of the developers was glad to join me on this adventure, and truthfully, I’m lucky I had him. He was my guide during our escapade, and while he let me figure out the challenges on my own, he also had very wise advice to give.

While there are no story expansions for the Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC, they each contain a narrative component. Each one will focus on a different supporting character from Shadow of the Tomb Raider, thus fleshing out the faces Lara meets on her journey.

The Forge focuses on Abby Ortiz, whom you meet early on in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While each person does play as Lara, the other player will appear as another character on their screen. So in my case, while I controlled Lara, and the other player was Abby, the opposite was true on the other screen. It may seem confusing in text, but trust me, it makes playing the tombs a whole lot easier. The tombs, when released, will be peppered throughout the story, depending upon what character each pack focuses on.

While solo mode is certainly an option as mentioned earlier, some puzzles will require a degree of back-and-forth, therefore taking longer than one would in co-op.

Coming Back for More

One of my biggest takeaways from the event is that these DLC packs are highly replayable. In addition to playing solo or co-op, each tomb also has three modes. You will be able to raid the tombs in Exploration, Time Attack, and Score Attack modes. Exploration is the main mode, whereas Time Attack challenges players to get through the tomb as quickly as they can.

Score Attack, on the other hand, is a little more complex. In this mode, you’re tasked with collecting various colored orbs to rack up points.  As soon as you collect one, you will have a time-sensitive multiplier combo that you can keep up by collecting more and more orbs. There are two kinds of orbs, green and blue. Blue ones are the standard, while the green ones will keep your combo up for a longer period. There are also glowing red lanterns that boost your combo depending upon the color orb you last collected. While there is a time limit of sorts in effect here, you are encouraged to think of paths that will allow you to maximize your score as much as possible.

There will be a leaderboard for both Time Attack and Score Attack, and solo and co-op will be ranked separately, as well.

End of One Chapter, Beginning of Another

Even though we don’t know what will become of Lara Croft following her most recent adventure, don’t expect Shadow of the Tomb Raider to climb its way into the sunset yet. With seven months of new content on the horizon, there will be plenty for fans of Tomb Raider to come back to. The number of DLC packs alone is impressive, but the sheer replayability each one will provide means players should keep this game on the ready for a while.

The Forge, the first Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC pack, releases on November 13, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Releases dates for the remaining expansions were not given, though they will be released monthly.