Rise of the Tomb Raider review (PC)

We look at Rise of the Tomb Raider, previously released on Xbox One and now available on PC.

Last year’s release of Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One didn’t get quite the attention it deserved. It was one of the year’s best action adventure titles, and a great successor to the Tomb Raider reboot of 2013. The reason? Most likely the fact that it was an Xbox exclusive being released during a time where there were a ton of multiplatform AAA games being released. Lara didn’t receive as much attention and got snowed under – we also weren’t able to review the Xbox One version at the time, but have now been able to play through the (upgraded) PC version. Later this year we’ll also see a PS4 release, but Playstation owners will unfortunately have a bit of a wait ahead of them.

Luckily, the wait should prove to be worthwhile – although PS4 owners will have been spoiled by the likes of Uncharted 4 at that point. Let’s wait and see, and focus on the PC version for now. Instead of just being a straight up port of the Xbox One version, there’s been a great amount of polish added. For one, you can push the game up to insanely high resolutions – up to 4K, if your system can handle it.

Of course, that kind of processing power is only really reserved for a select few at this point, so we did most of our testing at 1080p – for a good comparison with the Xbox One version. Here, it immediately stands out that the PC version has a lot of graphics options to tweak the balance between graphical splendor and silky smooth performance. One system’s 1080p visuals aren’t the same as another system’s – and they’re definitely not the same as the Xbox One’s visuals.

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Customization can be done using many of the usual filters, but it’s the texture detail that you want to boost as high as possible here – as well as the hair effects. It may sound trivial, but in Rise of the Tomb Raider the visual fidelity of the game really rivals that which we’ve seen in computer generated movies – and the hair effects (if turned on) are spectacular indeed.

Enough about the technical side of things though – we should also mention the incredible work that has been done in terms of the visual design and the detail work that has gone into crafting the environments of this game. We’ve already touched on how something as little as hair rendering can make a difference, but there’s tons of detail like that in the game. Wind plays a role, leaves on the floor move (and sound) like you’d expect… and it makes for a really immersive, movie-like experience.

In that sense, Rise of the Tomb Raider really builds on the foundations of the previous game. The style of older games has been replaced with a much more cinematic approach not too unlike what we see in the Uncharted games. However, the sequel brings back some of that classic tomb raiding, often in the shape of side quests you can undertake in order to unlock extra items, skills or secrets – and all of these are well-designed and bring rewards that help you in your main quest.

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As for the main story – it follows the events of the previous games and takes place a year later. For those who missed (or forgot about) the events in the first game… this is where a young Lara finds her inner adventurer and quickly learns many skills to aid her in her adventures. Since Rise of the Tomb Raider picks up a year later, Lara is now a seasoned and highly skilled woman – and will once again cross paths with the evil organization she encountered before. The story starts with you heading off to Siberia in search of a lost city, and plays out like an epic adventure novel – though one with sidequests.

Crafting is part of the game, but can be kept to a minimum for gamers not too interested in those non-action filled parts of the game. For those who are, the options are vast – allowing for a host of different gameplay styles, ranging from careful sneaking to careless rampaging, armed to the teeth with guns and bombs.

So was the PC version worth the wait? Definitely – the game’s excellent presentation has just gotten better and the already excellent gameplay is fully intact. It may not have gotten the accolades it deserved a few months ago, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best action adventure games you can get on your PC.

Score: 9.2/10

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