Wondering About: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

wondering-about-tomb-raider-def-edition

When I first learned of a new Tomb Raider for next generation systems I was very excited. But then I found out it was just an updated version of last year’s game which was admittedly excellent. But I’m ‘Wondering About’ many things with this version. Is it worth your money? What has changed? Is there another new Lara Croft character? How does she get her hair to look so good?

So here it is, all the things I could dig up about the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Take the poll to let us know if you’ll be grabbing this edition and maybe even let us know in the comments as well?

Overviewtomb-raider-stand-out-oval
As with last year’s Tomb Raider this is still an Action-Adventure game that introduces players to the origin of one of the most identifiable video game icons of all-time, Lara Croft. The game features a blend of survival, stealth, melee and ranged combat, and exploration gameplay as a young Lara Croft is forced to push herself past her known limits to survive and unravel the dark history of a forgotten island. In the process, she will unlock the adventurer within her. Additional game features include: weapons both familiar and new, upgradable items, a variety of play environments, and human and animal enemies.

Storyline
This too remains the same as the last generation version. After a brutal storm destroys the boat she was traveling on, a frightened young woman is left washed ashore on an unknown beach. On her own but not alone she has only one goal, to survive. Here begins the first adventure for a young and inexperienced Lara Croft in a story which charts the journey of an ordinary woman who finds out just how far she must go in order to stay alive.

Armed with only the raw instincts and physical ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Tomb Raider delivers an intense and gritty look at the origins of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor.

Key Features
When it came to the development of the next generation Lara for the Definitive Edition, the team responsible did start with the idea of updating just her skin or a few extra polygons. However, as time went on and they found out about the new hardware and what was possible, they felt Lara deserved even more attention. So the same folks who built her for the initial PS3 version were dedicated to reworking her for the next-gen version. In the end, they’re excited about both this new step in upgrading Lara with her new TressFX hair, new sub-surface scattering on skin, and overall new look. The team said,

“We are anxiously looking forward to feedback from everyone when they see her live on PS4 and Xbox One in January, we listen to all feedback and will greedily take and reflect on your inputs for ways we could even improve her further in the future.”

The core action and story of Tomb Raider remains intact with the addition of all post-launch DLC, as well as a few bonus offerings that let you dive deeper into Tomb Raider’s development. Here’s what you can expect:
· The fully rebuilt game for next-generation consoles
· The Tomb of the Lost Adventurer
· Eight DLC multiplayer maps
· Six DLC multiplayer weapons
· Four DLC multiplayer characters
· Six alternate outfits for Lara
· Dark Horse digital comic book “Tomb Raider: The Beginning”
· Brady Games digital art book “Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival”
· “The Final Hours of Tomb Raider” documentary series

Crystal Dynamics weren’t alone in this next generation version. They worked with Nixxes, a long-time partner and has worked with them since back in the Legacy of Kain days and are fluent in their code base and in Tomb Raider overall. United Front Games was introduced to them through their relationship with Square who had just partnered with UFG to do Sleeping Dogs. The three studios combined to make one larger team with people at all locations working collaboratively on all aspects. UFG certainly did a lot of heavy lifting on enhancing the world and art across the board. The new Lara was handled directly by the guys at Crystal Dynamics and then partnered with Nixxes and UFG to optimize her performance, etc.

Useful Facts

  • The Definitive Edition was talked about as far back as Nov 2012. Work on it began in January 2013, so it will be one full year by the time of launch in January 2014.
  • All in-game characters were updated for next-gen; but Lara is the star so she got the super-deluxe treatment! Not only that, they also re-worked geometry, textures, and other aspects for all primary characters in the story.
  • All of the details for Lara are there… they even added special materials that dynamically change for her when she wades through mud, or gets blood on her, or when in rain/wet so it ties her more into the world’s state as she goes. TressFX was custom written and optimized for Lara this first-time out for them on Next-gen as they hadn’t ever done it before on consoles.
  • The amount of extra work – 3 studios and a full year of development – have pushed the boundaries beyond just TressFX and upgraded textures. They now have a new particle system, new lighting work and enhanced shadow-casters, tons of more visual storytelling elements (more debris, more details on walls, more density in the environment for vegetation), upgraded characters (Lara and main story NPCs), and they’ve also put all of the DLC materials into this version for PS4.
  • They have rewritten the back-end architecture on the multiplayer for next-gen. They went back and looked at the issues and bugs they had last time around so hopefully everything is smoother now.
  • A few of the engineers were dedicated to improving physics both on Lara and in the world. A few quick examples – Lara has equipment on her that she acquires as she goes through her adventure. The climbing axe, her radio, her bow and a quiver of arrows, etc. All of these now have subtle but simulated physics on them so as she runs, jumps, falls, stumbles, they react accordingly giving her more grounding the world.
  • Then the world itself… They added many objects, plants, trees, and then wind and weather effects that also have physics simulation built into them to react with each other. Wind will make trees and leaves sway or flutter; cloth flaps against light or heavy winds accordingly; particles and Lara’s TressFX hair will drift according to the directional wind impact. All-in-all it adds a great additional depth and realism to the world.
  • The PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller lights up red and orange when using the torch, and quick flashes when Lara is shooting.
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition will retail for $59.99 in North America, releasing on January 28th and in Europe on January 31st.

I enjoyed the reinvention of Tomb Raider last year, so much so that I completed the story and was considering going for the platinum but the multiplayer trophies put me off. This is a great game for people who missed it first time around and personally I think it’ll make a fantastic edition to my PS4 collection.

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Most of the information was gathered from various places on the internet including the Eidos Forums and press information.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

If you send a friend request please add ‘PS Nation’ in the subject area.

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  • Sounds like they did a lot of work for this version. But I could never get into this series or character. Least she is no so sexualized in this version.

  • bryan reid

    I’ll wait for it to drop in price. shouldn’t take it too long before it drops.
    seems the price is the biggest issue that people are complaining about

  • Keith Dunn

    Chazz hits another home run with this series of articles! Excellent work, buddy!

    • ChazzH69

      Thanks Keith. I try. 🙂

  • MJC

    So it’s the PC version.

    • ChazzH69

      Better than the PC version, but not sure by how much?