Unlike most other hands-on demos, the Shadow of the Tomb Raider demo (and presentation) was all about DLC and DLC plans. While the devs won’t make anything quite as trippy (or spooky) as the Baba Yaga DLC from Rise of the Tomb Raider, they plan to put the “raider” back in “tomb raider.” Yes. All of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC will revolve around solving puzzles for the chance to obtain some sweet, sweet rewards, and what rewards we shall get.
Each of Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s DLC tombs will reward players with new weapons, perks, and skins. The rewards that were shown off for the first DLC tomb consisted of military gear, a shotgun, and the ability to craft grenades, but not every prize will be little shinies gamers can wear with pride. Each DLC pack will feature a narrative that gives players a little insight into the side characters, including the antagonists. Every piece of DLC will let players delve into the histories and backstories of everyone who isn’t named Lara Croft.
Oh, and one more thing: each DLC pack contains a multiplayer mode, and your friends don’t even have to buy the DLC to participate. Just invite them into a game and bam, you’re making your way past the most implausible examples of ancient traps since Indiana Jones. Don’t ever worry if your partner will throw you the rope to escape a death trap again. How cool is that?
For the playable demo, I teamed up with another member of the press as we traveled up an ancient Mayan elevator, complete with lava and flammable gas. At first, the puzzles were easy; just hold down a lever, let the other player walk across the bridge lowered by the lever, rinse and repeat. But then the elevator from hell threw a twist that caused a bit of confusion: we were forced to split up, and we weren’t exactly the most coordinated of veteran adventurers. Still, we persevered thanks to a bevy of craftable fire arrows (and retries initiated by jumping into lava), and eventually we made it to the top.
The Mayan hellevator blows the tombs from the previous Tomb Raider games out of the water. It was by no means hair-pullingly difficult, but the amount of coordination and communication required really threw us for a loop, mostly because I’ve never had to coordinate or communicate with other players in past Tomb Raider games. All those games had were short, easy puzzles that could be solved in a matter of minutes. But the DLC of Shadow of the Tomb Raider took us half an hour. Still, at least we had more than enough time to admire the multiplayer skins, one of which was classic, polygonal PS1 Lara.
Now, I must mention that the DLC comes with one huge, dinosaur-sized caveat. Aside from the absence of dinosaurs, that is. While each DLC pack can be bought piecemeal, one of them is exclusive to the season pass, so if you want to buy each one as they came out (they’re $5 each), you will miss out on the last one. Unless, of course, you hold off purchasing the base game and the season pass and just buy the inevitable Definitive Edition that comes with all the DLC.
You might think $5 is a little too much to pay for a short, story-driven tomb raid. And you’re right, $5 is too much for that. But lucky for you the DLC isn’t just about finding treasure. According to the developers, each tomb will come equipped with a score attack and a time attack mode that will keep gamers coming back for more. I might not be a speed runner myself, but plenty of gamers are, so who am I to judge?
All in all, I liked the Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC. I was a tad underwhelmed by the 2013 Tomb Raider due to the lack of tombs, but this DLC is a step in the right direction. I only hope this is only the beginning of Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s DLC tombs.