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It was no secret that the timed Xbox One exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider would eventually head to Sony's PlayStation 4. Even before it was released last November fans knew it would happen, and it would likely parcel up all the DLC in a nice little Game of the Year package. It does this, and a lot more.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the series, and to celebrate Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix wanted to put together something different. So, in addition to all the DLC released over the past ten months for the Xbox One version, PS4 owners will also be getting three new modes, including one playable in virtual reality (VR).
The most noteworthy addition is the return of Croft Manor as the setting of two new modes. In the story-driven Blood Ties, Lara's uncle lays claim to the manor and players must explore the character's childhood home to find evidence that the house is her birthright. In Lara's Nightmare, that same predicament manifests in a zombie-filled, action-driven nightmare.
The other new mode, what was the best of the three from our time with the game at a recent preview event, is Endurance Co-op, which (surprise!) ads co-op play to the survival-focused mode introduced in DLC earlier this year.
Endurance is all about two meters in the corner of the screen measuring Lara's hunger and need for warmth. These are filled by finding or lighting bonfires, and hunting for wildlife and berries. It's a world full of threats (mercenaries, wolves, bears) and tombs to raid. Successfully reach the sarcophagus at the bottom of a tomb and the player's stock of lives will be replenished.
Co-op offers Endurance an element of team-work, but there doesn't appear to be much depth to this beyond the ability to plan together, revive each other and share food if the players are close enough together when a source is found.
The goal is to survive for as long as possible, with each new day bringing new challenges. By day 50 we were told players would be hoping to encounter a bear as it'd be one of the few sources of food left in the game.
Blood Ties is a very different experience. Entirely story-focused, it sees Lara and the player roaming Croft Manor piecing together clues and interacting with objects and relics that delve into Lara's childhood and her deceased parents.
It's an opportunity to explore a little more of the character and – we hope – set things up for the Manor's full and glorious return in the inevitable third instalment teased at the very end of Rise's story. We say a full and glorious return because this version of Croft Manor, while well-designed and filled with secrets, is cluttered and dark. It's a reflection of where Lara is during Rise of the Tomb Raider (Blood Ties is set between the prologue and main story) but over the course of Blood Ties she'll become more at peace with her history and realise how much this dusty old building means to her.
This mode will also be available to play in virtual reality with Sony's PlayStation VR headset, with two modes of movement to accommodate both regular VR users and those who can find it a bit too much. Unfortunately, we were not able to test this new mode, but it will be interesting to see what it offers.
Lara's Nightmare is what it is: a mode for players to enjoy the game's combat. Zombies are a trite addition to any game that didn't originally have them, and this is no different, but as a free mode that can't really be held against it.
Since Rise of the Tomb Raider's release, Crystal Dynamics has seen its post-release content as an area to experiment with what this rebooted series can be and explore what it could be. It's an admirable approach, and it continues with 20 Year Celebration.
All this talk of the new content overshadows the fact that it's all in addition to an excellent single player story worth the price of admission alone. Last year we called Rise of the Tomb Raider "a stellar sequel" in our review, praising improvements made to the core exploration and combat and its stunning visuals.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is out on 11 October for PS4 and Xbox One. Endurance Co-Op will be made available for free to any Xbox One user who bought the original single player Endurance DLC. Blood Ties and Lara's Nightmare will be released to Season Pass holders.