With the final 2 DLCs, Shadow of the Tomb Raider continues to deliver an intriguing mix of new content that emphasizes action and puzzles.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider may have ended the three-game arc of Lara Croft’s journey to becoming the Tomb Raider we all know and love when it released last fall, but each month since then, Crystal Dynamics has continued to deliver a variety of new adventures for Lara (and the player) to traverse through with some interesting new challenges.
Confession: regrettably, I have yet to actually play through Shadow of the Tomb Raider proper just yet, mainly because it got swept up in my backlog of games from last year that I still need to play. But from playing some of its most recent DLC–and one that is coming up later this month–I can already tell that I should dive in to Shadow of the Tomb Raider soon, especially with my experience now from the collection of great challenges that the game has been getting post-launch.
During PAX East 2019, I got the chance to try out the sixth and seventh DLC packs for Shadow of the Tomb Raider to get a taste of what the final add-ons for Lara’s concluding adventure have in store for players later this month. Even though I didn’t play Shadow of the Tomb Raider for myself just yet–and it’s been a while since I played Rise of the Tomb Raider–once I got the swing of the controls again I found it pretty easy to hop back what these DLC packs were demanding from me (and my co-op partner) during the demo.
To start, I first tried out “The Grand Caiman” (the sixth DLC pack), which emphasized action and platforming in a sort of time trial-style challenge. Set in the midst of a molten underground lair, you and your partner must race against time to solve a challenge tomb where you must overcome a series of different obstacles to make it to the end, without falling to your death (as I experienced more than a few times during the demo).
Though the DLC pack features a lot of the platforming and gasp-inducing stunts that have defined a lot of the earlier games, what really made “The Grand Caiman” stand out to me was its volcanic setting. With Lara and your partner having to reach across perilous jumps and make quick decisions of where to go next, that tension was enhanced by the fact that everything is covered in lava, alongside fiery traps and obstacles that made getting around often tricky. Compared to the dense jungles and frozen mountains that made up parts of the earlier games, seeing such a different setting for a Tomb Raider game made “The Grand Caiman” that much more exciting to run through in co-op, as we had more than a few close calls with some of the fiery traps that waited for us.
“The Path Home,” which is set to release on April 23 as the seventh and final piece of Shadow of the Tomb Raider‘s Season Pass, focused more on the puzzle-solving aspects of the series, and personally was my favorite of the two segments that I played during the demo. Though there were some moments that felt familiar from “The Grand Caiman,” “The Path Home” focused mainly on having players solve a more complex tomb puzzle, and it made for a challenging (but rewarding) co-op adventure.
The main crux of the puzzle involved a giant Aztec statue with several rotating components, where you and your partner have to complete a series of trials to attach the different limbs to the statue and then rotate them into the proper places to advance to the end. “The Path Home” in particular really required a lot from both players in terms of coordination and teamwork, and outside of getting stuck a bit at the very end of the puzzle–as me and my co-op partner might have overthought the solution a bit–it demonstrated to me how much more that co-op added to the Tomb Raider puzzle-solving experience.
Based on what I played from “The Path Home,” I would certainly love to see Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix explore the potential of a fully co-op driven Tomb Raider game, (hopefully) whenever we might get a new title after the end of Lara’s origin trilogy. Though “The Path Home” was a relatively short experience, it already left me wanting more for a full game that could explore the potential of having Lara and another character take on challenges together, as puzzle-solving with the benefit of being able to talk to a co-op partner was extremely satisfying. While we did have the benefit of playing in the same room together as opposed to trying to work out the solution over voice chat online, I loved the challenge of having to coordinate solutions with a teammate and try to work through a puzzle together.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider‘s last two pieces of DLC seem to be ending the game’s post-launch support on a high note, and from what I played between “The Grand Caiman” and “The Path Home,” players will likely have a lot to look forward to if they plan to hop into this new content with friends. With both DLCs having either own focus between action, platforming, and puzzle-solving, both “The Grand Caiman” and “The Path Home” highlight the strengths of the modern Tomb Raider games in the best way possible, and deliver satisfying grace notes to Lara’s swan song.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux. “The Grand Caiman” DLC is available now on all platforms, while the final DLC, “The Path Home,” will be out on April 23.