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Mild spoilers for Rise of the Tomb Raider gameplay and early story

Butch:

I got nothing. But it isn’t my fault!

My mother stayed really late.

Then Mrs. McP came home early.

My family does not want me to play games. And I really, REALLY want to get back to this game.

In keeping with the last post here, I STILL haven’t killed anything. Sure, that driver died, but that wasn’t on me. Blame the helicopter. I’m still a pacifist, man!

Though I think that’s gonna change soon.

Feminina:

I played a bit. Killed a couple of people, got some grislier death graphics (spiked pit trap: bad news). It’s possible the children may be scarred after all. I keep trying to aim/shoot with the wrong triggers, but I’ll get it in a bit.

There’s lots of Uncharted-ish running and jumping and climbing, and some Last of Us-ish crafting and resource finding.

And I got to the first campsite.

Remember campsites in this game? You have a whole ‘region’ to explore, and a campfire in the region that you can sit at to improve your skills, and you find scattered documents and relics and supplies scattered around…it’s all coming back to me! In a good way. I’m into it.

Butch:

Oh right, camps! Yeah, it has upgraded and skill points and shit. When that first XP thing came up I was taken aback, but yeah!

Damn it, if I don’t scar the kids I’ll never play. I’ll just avoid the trap. That’s it.

There should be certain rules that apply to all games, all the time: X jumps, L2 aims, R2 shoots. How did they mess with that?

Like fallout. Triangle to jump? No.

Feminina:

X does jump, so that’s all good. But the triggers are the opposite of what I think they should be…I think it’s L1 and R1 instead of 2? Either that or some recent game has trained me that it SHOULD be 1, and so I keep trying 1 but it IS actually 2. I think it might be that one, actually.

I may be able to report back definitively next time I play, or I may forget to pay attention. I do like the way it helps you out by making the target point turn red while you’re aiming, if you’re actually aiming at a thing you could hit.

‘Survival Instincts’ is also going to be pretty addictive, although I kind of liked it better when it was on a trigger like Geralt’s witcher senses: here you have to hit R3 and then the enhanced vision kicks in for a limited time, so you can’t just walk around with it on all the time. I suppose they thought that was too easy.

I set the difficulty on ‘experienced tomb raider’ or whatever that high-middle one is called…so far it’s been fine.

Butch:

As far as I’m concerned, if they use something other than triggers to fire guns, something is horribly wrong.

The worst was switching the grenade button in UC4. I blew myself up so many times…..

Yeah, the sense thing was like that in 1. Many a time did I do the take two steps and sense tango. I anticipate same in this one.

I picked the default difficulty, which I think is just “Tomb Raider,” one click up from easy. We shall see. You turn it up a notch?

Feminina:

I don’t know if I’ve ever played a game where the guns weren’t connected to SOME trigger, which as you say just seems weirdly wrong, but which trigger it is can vary.

Although just for the sake of argument, we readily accept that you can swing a sword or punch someone by pushing X, so why the demand for ‘verisimilitude’ when it comes to pulling a trigger for a gun? Why should it be stranger to fire a gun with circle than it is to punch with X? I blame our nation’s fetishization of firearms.

“Step, step, SENSE! Step, step, SENSE!” It’s a good little dance.

I find it slightly distracting in that it will highlight ‘hints’ for you as well as treasure (i.e., that spot on the wall is glowing, maybe I need to try breaking it), and sometimes I don’t WANT the hint right away, but I do want to make sure I don’t miss the treasures. I suppose I should just be doing a turn around the place first without sensing and see if I can figure out what I need to be doing next, and then sense to make sure I don’t leave any treasures behind…but then what if I figure out what I need to do and doing it pulls me into the next area and I don’t have a chance to scour the place for loot?

So, in short, I have kind of mixed feelings about Survival Instincts, although I’ll probably just wind up using it all the time and accepting the faintly hand-holdy nature of the obvious hints as I go. I DON’T want to miss loot, after all.

I did move the difficulty up one notch from default. Figured I can always turn it down later. It’s been fine so far, spiked pit traps aside, but we are still pretty much in the intro stages where we’re learning how to avoid dying in spiked pit traps and so forth, so I’m sure it will get tougher.

Butch:

Wait, what do you mean hints? Cuz in one, it did highlight, say, craggy bits you could climb or things you could pull on with rope arrows. Is that what you mean? Or is it more HERE! OVER HERE! kinda stuff?

As for the difficulty:

Hmm. Good to know. I suppose it’s also nice that you know you have not one but two safety nets in terms of difficulty.

Though I can never tell in games like this if the difficulty level has anything to do with anything other than combat. I mean, being the options reading guy I am, I did read what changed in the difficulty and it was all stuff like enemy health and speed of health regeneration and that sort of thing. There wasn’t anything like “jumps are easier to do” or “spiky pit traps are harder to fall into” or anything. Nothing about non combat gameplay at all. It’s why I get so nervy when there’s something I can’t do that ISN’T combat (like, say, that sliding and turning and jumping bit near the end of UC4), because I never know that turning it easy will make a lick of difference. I sort of figure it won’t.

Feminina:

Hey, hey, hey, even I read THOSE options. And yeah, they are all about combat…as you say, it’s unclear whether easier combat in any way helps with the twisty-turny bits or the bits where you just can’t get the timing right trying to swing and jump from one vine to another (grrr…). It seems quite possible that even on minimum combat difficulty, the stupid vine tricks would still be miserable, although it’s also certainly possible that they do take non-combat challenges into account. Hard to say.

Hints…mostly it’s highlighting climable spots, but also things like “hey, there’s a crate that’s glowing, I guess I probably have to do something with that to get out of here” (not a literal example).

So slightly more hinty than just “here’s what you can climb on”–although I suppose that your keenly honed survival instincts WOULD in fact give you helpful tips by making you notice that crate, or whatever, so it’s arguably a legitimate, less-obvious-than-loadscreen-hints way for the game to help you be as clever and observant as the character.

Butch:

It is hard to say. And their lack of indication in the descriptions is annoying. I don’t think difficulty affects anything but combat. Which is sorta weird in a game where you can die so many ways OUT of combat.

Oh, right, that kind of hint. I think one did that, too. Like “Here’s things you can manipulate,” which, most of the time was a dead giveaway. “Hey you can manipulate this…..not that you have to…..but yeah….it is the only thing you can manipulate….. but it might not be the answer…the answer could be….uh….that other….uh….never mind, it’s the answer.”

But yeah, it does seem to fit as literal “survival instincts.” In a sequel, too. It was less believable when it was “I’m a scared young woman who has led a protected life of luxury, but I can SO notice everything that could possibly be used in the wilderness.”

Feminina:

Right…”we’re not saying it’s important in any way, we’re just saying you COULD interact with this piece of the environment, if you happened to want to” pretty much tells you that piece is the key to the solution.

Although to be fair, the solution can still be challenging, since it may not be immediately obvious what you have to DO with the thing you can interact with. I did have a bit yesterday where it told me exactly what was important, but I still had to think about how to use the thing to get to the next part of the game. So I suppose we can’t complain too much.

I do look forward to some of those complicated tomb puzzles like we had in the first game. Those were often pretty cool, and it’s a nice break from all the murdering.

I also need hardly mention that I’ve already destroyed a priceless archaeological site even though I’m only about 90 minutes into the game.

Murdering dudes and erasing history: it’s what we do.

Butch:

I have already taught my kids: if it’s in a game, it’s probably important. I should probably add, “unless it’s a mug, in which case ignore it.”

Me, too, waiting for the tomb puzzles! And the word is that there are far more in this one than in one. I mean, she IS a TOMB RAIDER for heaven’s sake.

Ninety minutes, though? Dude! DUDE! Pace! Help me out, here!

That is what we do. And really, her one upmanship with Nathan is getting a little unseemly. “Nice piton. How you like my axes?” “You killed 502 guys? I’m going for 600!” “Took you a whole game to ruin history? I’m doing it before the end of act one!” I mean, guys. Seriously. The players love you both equally.

Feminina:

It’s true: it’s not a competition, people! We love you both!

Although there’s no denying Lara has way better hair.

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