Skip to main content

Exploring Croft Manor In VR: 'Tomb Raider' at Gamescom

We first met Lara Croft in Tomb Raider in October 1996, and to commemorate, Square Enix is making a special edition of the game: Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. While we were at Gamescom we got a preview of what’s coming in the bundle, which includes all of the downloadable content (DLC) in a single game, along with some extra goodies, like a new co-op endurance mode, new skins, and a new story chapter called “Blood Ties.”

Whose House Is It Anyway?

The highlight is in the new story chapter. It begins immediately after Lara returns from her first (involuntary) expedition. She comes home to Croft Manor where she finds a letter from her uncle, who is taking legal claim over the estate. Lara’s parents never left a will, so it is up to her to search the house for any evidence that proves that it belongs to her.

In the demo, Square Enix showed us the manor is in a severe state of disrepair. The roof was leaking, and a tree fell into Richard Croft’s old study. As we explored the house, some locations would cause flashbacks to Lara’s childhood that gave us clues about where we could search next.

Because the “Blood Ties” chapter is all about uncovering the secrets of Croft Manor’s past, it doesn’t have any combat. However, Tomb Raider has always incorporated platform-based mechanics, which meant that we had to climb to reach a few places, squeeze through tight passages in the service corridors, and move heavy wine racks aside in the cellar to reach a destination.

Croft Manor in VR? Yes Please!

If you own a PS4 and plan to purchase Playstation VR (PSVR), you’ll be happy to know that the entire mission takes place in VR as well. The demo we played used a rather unintuitive teleportation system. To move around the manor you hold down a trigger on the controller and use its Sixaxis feature to aim the controller where you want to go. You then use the right joystick to aim in the direction you wish to face after teleporting, and then use the other trigger to activate the teleport. It works, but it feels stiff and takes some time to acclimate to the feature.

The Square Enix spokesperson informed us that there would be a free-walking mode too, but because of the dizziness that it may cause it was disabled for the demo. Even so, seeing the Croft Manor in VR was like a childhood dream come true.

The spokesperson refused to say whether the PC version of the 20 Year Celebration would support the Rift or Vive HMDs.

Coop Endurance Mode

The co-op endurance mode allows two players to explore a procedurally-generated world to find and raid tombs. It is important that you stay close to one another because resource management is an essential part of this mode. Resources include food, weapons, and warmth, and in order to survive together you need to hunt wolves and other animals for food. You’ll also have to craft arrows for hunting and make fires to stay warm.

Overall, there wasn’t too much depth to the co-op mode, and although it was fun to be able to play together in a Tomb Raider game, it wouldn’t take long before you’re bored of the repetitive gameplay.

When Can You Get It?

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is slated to be released October 11. You’ll be able to buy it as a standalone game with all the content included. If you already own the Season Pass you’ll get all the new content for free.

NameRise of the Tomb Raider
TypeAction/Adventure
DeveloperCrystal Dynamics
PublisherSquare Enix
PlatformsPC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Where To BuySquare Enix StoreSquare Enix Store (20 Year Celebration)SteamAmazonBest BuyTargetWalmartGameStop
Release DateNovember 10, 2015 (Xbox One)January 28, 2016 (PC)October 11 (PlayStation 4)