I played Rise of the Tomb Raider last year on the Xbox One and absolutely loved it. I was a fan of the previous installment and the follow up didn’t disappoint. I played through the subsequent DLCs and found those to be highly enjoyable additions to the main campaign.
Despite my admitted love for all things Tomb Raider, I was very skeptical when it was announced that the game would be getting a new DLC that was playable in VR. Though the premise of Blood Ties seemed intriguing, I didn’t know if it would be as worthwhile as the other Rise of the Tomb Raider DLCs, especially in VR.
During a Square-Enix event I attended last week, I got to try a bit of Blood Ties myself. This DLC is set inside of Lara Croft’s crumbling mansion and is very different from everything that has come before. Instead of focusing on action and suspense, Blood Ties is a more subdued affair that has Lara exploring her old home. Comparisons to Gone Home aren’t unjustified as all you really do here is walk around and read old notes left behind by your father, Lord Croft. Unlike Gone Home, this “walking simulator” is much more interesting since you are playing as Lara Croft and you get to read about some of the fantastic events that happened to her father.
Playing this game in VR wasn’t much different than my experience with Weeping Doll. You had to place an avatar of Lara where you wanted to go before being teleported to that location. The camera moved at 30 degree intervals as a way to prevent motion sickness. Since I was already familiar with these type of controls, it didn’t take me long to acclimate and play the game normally (or as normal as you can get with a VR headset on your head).
I explored some hidden catacombs and a large library where I searched for clues as to where to go next. Since this was a demo at an event, I skipped reading any of the notes in order to move along. As with the main game, all of the notes contain narration in case you don’t want to read. I encountered some minor puzzles which were nicely balanced. They were challenging but not brain crackingly difficult.
I recently purchased the PC version of Rise of the Tomb Raider which got Blood Ties as a free update. Here, I played using the standard third person view. I found this to be a much better experience because I was able to play it without having to compensate for VR. I could move around normally and everything. The gameplay was still the same and I was still looking around searching for old notes, but it almost felt like an entirely different game.
Though Blood Ties is certainly an interesting experience in VR, it is much better when played outside of virtual reality. Even playing it with VR, it still provides a unique experience for Tomb Raider and certainly blows away most proper “walking simulators” on the market. This DLC isn’t essential, but if you’re a fan of the franchise it is certainly worth a playthrough as it does act as a nice epilogue to Rise of the Tomb Raider as a whole.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Blood Ties is available now as downloadable content for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.