Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by John Gotobed0
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Tomb Raider Multiplayer
Yesterday Square Enix held a community event at their offices in London and showed off a level of the recently announced multiplayer mode for the upcoming reboot of Tomb Raider. We got to play two of the modes that will be available in the game, Team Death match which is a pretty standard kill the other guys before they kill you mode, and Rescue, an interesting twist on the Capture the Flag style objective-based gameplay. The team of Survivors needs to venture out into the map and retrieve 5 medpacks, returning them to a set point near their base to win. The Solari aren’t very happy about this intrusion onto their island, and the stealing of their supplies, so they just need to kill the Survivors. 20 kills will win them the match, but the Survivors are hardy… it’s not just a simple matter of killing them, they can be revived by their team mates if you leave them, so you need to get in close and make sure they are downed with a swift melee attack. While on the ground the Survivor can still fire his pistol, so just because you have sniped them from across the map they are still a threat as you close the distance.
Even the simple Team Death match has a certain sprinkle of the Solari vs Survivors flavouring, each side has a different set of loadouts, and different weapons with different upgrades dramatically changed the playing field even at the lower levels that we were playing at. As a Survivor I felt I need to close the distance, to bring the full power of the default shotgun to bear against my opponent. When the first round finished and we switched to controlling the Solari, I suddenly held in my hands a simple bow, which took a little getting used to but led very quickly to being a stealth, swift killer, stalking the higher platforms and sniping from across the map. Both play styles have advantages and disadvantages, but they both felt balanced, and both were very fun.
The map was reasonable large, and while it could be quickly traversed by ziplines on one side of the map, or by leaping from platform to platform on the other, there was also a tight cave network underground that needed to be blasted open to access, but protected you from sniper fire. The Solari seemed more suited to jumping across the top of the level, whilst the Survivors took the advantage in the cave network, where their shotguns and assault rifles would cut down a simple archer. Traps are an interesting twist on the multiplayer. On the map we played, a number of points could be rigged with snares that would snatch an unwitting opponent and hang them upside from the ceiling until they or their team-mates shot the rope suspending them, or the other side came back to execute their prey.
While I know that this is a common comparison, the multiplayer game really reminded me of the brief experience I had playing the Uncharted 3 multiplayer at the Eurogamer Expo two years ago, and that’s absolutely fine with me. The characters are swift and agile, leaping from platforms the second before a grenade explodes, leaping across platforms and employing a zip line to get the drop on the enemy team by dropping into a new sniper position behind them. It feels amazing to get the drop on people, and terrifying when you suddenly find yourself without cover and in the middle of a rain of bullets, or hearing arrows whizzing past your head.
I was really impressed with the multiplayer side of the game that I saw today, it really engaged my interest, and was lots of fun to play. Whilst playing I leveled from 1 to about level 12 unlocking new weapons, characters and upgrades along the way, with suitably awesome rewards for time invested (a new recurve bow was my favourite). Each of the weapons had their own specific group of upgrades that could be slotted in to improve certain aspects, from the damage to the rate of fire, to the time it took to draw the bow back, and even the length of time you could hold it and full draw without losing an arrow. Other skills could be acquired that affected your character, starting with one that boosted the XP gained from a match, you could quickly swap that out to do more damage, or leave a proximity mine when your character was killed. I know that a lot of people have said that Tomb Raider doesn’t suit a multiplayer mode, and I remember that people said a similar thing last year when it was announced that Mass Effect 3 would feature a multiplayer mode, but that is one of the highlights of multiplayer gaming last year, at least in the eyes of a lot of people around Castle, and so I hope that you will keep an open mind and give this new experience a go, I certainly had a lot of fun playing it.