Square Enix was kind enough to invite us to their meeting room at CES to check out the multiplayer feature of the new Tomb Raider game coming March 5th. Multiplayer is rather new to the franchise, if you don’t count the Guardian of Light since that’s a radical departure of the traditional Tomb Raider games.
What Sean Cahill and I played though was the rescue mode where it puts two teams against each other with two different goals. One team’s tasked to find a health pack and take it to a certain point on the map. The other team’s task is to eliminate them at all costs.
You’ll earn experience and can upgrade your weapons as you play more and more, like in most multiplayer games these days. We were presented with characters in the level 30 range with a lot of options already purchased so we were able to try out a few different loadouts and upgrades.
There was a machine gun, shotgun, crossbow, bow and arrow, and you’ll have both a primary and secondary weapon. A third object can be carried such as a mine, that I used to place in a few high traffic areas. I mostly played with the machine gun, but Sean used the bow and arrow a few times. From what the developers said, the bow can be very deadly once you get used to how it worked.
The map we played had various traps that could be set. Go and set up a snare to string your enemies upside down. Set a wall trap that will squish your enemies to a bloody pulp. Throw up a sandstorm to obscure everyones view. These traps are littered throughout the map and really keep you on your toes when moving around.
When playing as part of the rescue team, teamwork is the key. See, when a person is carrying the health pack, they can’t fire their weapon. Also, they can’t run or they will drop the health pack. Now, they can throw it and I found that to be a pretty good strategy to try and move the health pack at a quicker pace or when I was confronted with someone and needed to switch to my weapon.
The rescue team needed just five health packs moved to the designated location while the attacking group had to get 20 kills to win. Now, downing a rescue person isn’t as easy as just shooting them until their health ran out. You had to run up and melee them and finish them off before the score counted. This was to help balance out the scoring as it’s a lot tougher to try and get the health pack to the designated area then it is to shoot someone. With the melee finisher, it gave the rescue team a fairer chance to win the game.
Multiplayer Tomb Raider felt a lot like Uncharted sprinkled with a little bit of Gears of War. You can do this melee charge that can take people out with one shot. Action is a little bit slower and more methodical. You could zip line around various areas on the map and that seemed to be a pretty quick way to get around provided a rope was there.
It took a little bit to get the nuances of the game and the controls, but after 30 mins we started to really get the hang of traversing the map and working together on the objectives. Shooting the enemies was easy, but doing the melee finish took a little bit of practice because the downed rescuer can fire back with their secondary weapon. It led to a few times where I got a little frustrated at trying to notch a score only to be killed right before I was able to go and finish the person off.
Of course, it didn’t help that we were facing off against some of the developers, which we didn’t know until the end. As with most games, it can get frustrating facing off against a team that knows what they were doing. Sean and I were put into that position and we had a fun time picking on the “camping” devs after the session was over.
Graphically, the game looked really solid. The single player portion was pretty fantastic and while I don’t think the multiplayer maps have the level of detail that the single player does, they still looked pretty solid. The sandstorm effect was pretty cool to experience and the team really pulled off the effect with some impressive particle effects.
I liked what I experienced with the multiplayer portion of Tomb Raider. While we only played Rescue, it had some really fun moments and I can see myself going back to it with a good group of folks. As an aside, I was able to spend 20 minutes playing the single player mode and it’s a ton of fun, very cinematic and with a lot of great little puzzle solving situations. March 5th will be the date everyone can experience the new, re-imagined Tomb Raider.