I’ve never played any of the Tomb Raider games before and since I recently picked up the new trilogy for free from Epic Games I decided to give them a try.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and had decently high expectations going into the second one.

I’m happy to report that the second entry in the new series is a fantastic improvement on the first game and I enjoyed it even more than the last one.

First, let’s take a look at the trailer.


Exploring ruins in the geothermal valley

The Story

The story is definitely a step up from the last game. In Rise Lara Croft is searching for a magical device that’s supposed to grant immortality.

Of course there’s a group of bad guys in the form of an ancient secret society / private military corporation called Trinity that’s after it too.

Lara’s father had been searching for this artifact before he was disgraced and committed suicide but it seems Trinity may have been involved with that as well. You get some interesting back story about Lara’s family and father in this game which helps flesh out her character a bit more.

The villain of the story is fantastic as well. He’s a tough, sort of evil but believes he’s doing the right thing and will succeed no matter the cost kind of person. When you learn more about his motivations what he’s doing does make a lot of sense.

You start off searching for clues in Syria at the beginning of the game in the intro segment and then move onto Siberia for the rest. You end up finding a village full of people this time that includes a few interesting characters and helps give more background to the world and story. They also provide optional side missions which help flesh things out more as well.

One weird thing though it the character Jonah from the first game is back but while his race was Pacific Islander in the first game now he’s African and looks completely different. I’m not sure what’s going on there.

But overall the story is great. You can’t beat going after a Holy Grail-like artifact while being chased by an excellent villain leading an army of mercenaries.


Jumping through ruins in Syria

The Gameplay

The gameplay takes the foundation from the first game and builds onto it a lot.

The combat, stealth, platforming and Uncharted-like action sequences are all just as polished and excellent as they were before.

This time though you’re now able to do things like swim which adds an extra element to movement.

There’s also much larger areas to explore than the first game while the game still maintains the focused not-so-ridiculously-large open world type feeling as before. And like you did in the first game you return to areas and unlock new ones as you progress through the story and collect more tools.

One major addition to the game this time is the crafting system. There’s now a ton of different resources to collect which can be used to craft items and weapon upgrades.

The first game really wanted you to hunt animals but there wasn’t much point to it before, all you got was a tiny bit of experience. Now you collect different pelts which can be used for crafting.

At first I was a little bit overwhelmed by the crafting, especially because the game seemed to want you to craft ammunition as well but I quickly got the hang of it and it was a great addition (I really don’t hate crafting systems like so many people seem to do).

There are also coins hidden around the world to find which can be redeemed at a shop for various weapons, costumes and upgrades.

Like in the first game I was actually excited to explore each area, find every secret and get that 100% completion on the map.


Entering the observatory

The Graphics, Performance and Environments

This game came out in 2015 and does look a lot better than the first one.

I was almost able to play in 4k with 60fps on my RTX 2070 but ended up bumping it down to 1440p which ran perfectly. I do recommend turning off the motion blur setting though. It made everything look super weird when you rotate the camera and seemed to improve performance.

In general I have no complaints about the graphics. All the environments and character models look great, even by today’s standards.

One complaint I did have about the first game was that a lot of the environments were kind of boring and there was too much gray, green and brown.

This game does improve on that a lot.

The first area, Syria has some great orange desert colours and you end up exploring a gorgeous tomb with lots of plant life, beautiful ruins, water and sunlight. It makes an excellent first impression.

Later you head to Siberia and there’s a ton of snowy mountain environments and ice caves. The rest of the game is more or less in these sort of environments but it is a big improvement over the first game. There’s a lot more interesting stuff to look at such as in one of the early challenge tombs where you encounter a giant Byzantine sailing ship embedded sideways in a glacier.


The villain

Sound, Music and Voice

Overall I’ve got no complaints here. The voice acting is all excellent, as are the sound effects.

The music was great and fit the scenes but nothing super special or memorable. The Uncharted games do have that great Uncharted music theme that kicks in from time to time and is instantly recognizable. This Tomb Raider trilogy unfortunately doesn’t seem to have anything like that.


Sneaking around


If you’re getting this game today you’re most likely going to get the full version with all the DLC.

It comes with a ton of additional costumers which are nice but the main focus I think is the Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch side mission.

This adds a whole extra area, story side mission and is pretty fun. It’s based on the Russian folklore of Baba Yaga. It’s a few extra hours of gameplay, and an interesting story to play through.

There are what seems to be supernatural elements here as well but unlike the main story it ends up with a completely rational explanation for all the weird Baba Yaga witch powers.

Finally there’s some DLCs that add an endurance mode with procedurally generated levels and some zombie fighting horde mode thing. I didn’t really get into either of these that much.

I think there’s also some kind of multiplayer and I kept unlocking various cards which I think were related to that but I wasn’t interested enough to try to figure that part out.

The highlight of this game is definitely the single player campaign.


Close up on Lara Croft's Face

In Conclusion

I really did enjoy the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and this game takes everything great about that and makes it better.

There’s a very interesting post-credits sort of cliffhanger that’s got me quite excited to get into the third game.

One thing too that I have to mention is they definitely toned down the gruesome death animations from the first game. You’ll still die a lot from getting impaled on traps or falling off cliffs but the animations are no where near as crazy and detailed as they were in the first game.

So if that’s something that turned you off from the first one there’s nothing to worry about here this time.

Overall it took me around 20 hours to mostly 100% complete the single player campaign and Baba Yaga DLC which I think is a fantastic amount of time for a game like this. It’s a good solid amount of gameplay without overstaying it’s welcome.

In conclusion, this was another fantastic game and I can’t wait to start the third one now.

Screenshots are from the Rise of the Tomb Raider page on Steam and IGN used under Fair Use.