5 Tips To Surviving Rise Of The Tomb Raider

If there’s one thing Rise of the Tomb Raider makes abundantly clear early on, it’s that Lara Croft has changed since we last saw her in 2013’s Tomb Raider. That game served as a rebirth of gaming’s foremost survivor, but this sequel reestablishes her as the lethal archeologist we once knew her to be. While it’s nice to see Lara rise to the occasion yet again, this is the most complex and charismatic as she’s ever been.

Not only is Rise of the Tomb Raider an evolution for its leading lady, but everything that was already just dandy in the previous Tomb Raider has been fine-tuned here. The visuals, controls, open-world setting, and characters are all more immersive and compelling than ever. This is Tomb Raider’s answer to Empire Strikes Back, and Lara Croft is Han Solo. Watching her repeatedly escape death by the skin of her teeth is more compelling than the majority of today’s blockbusters.

Keeping spoilers to a minimum—because the story is legitimately enthralling and I’d hate to ruin any of it—Lara is no longer a passenger to the events that unfold. Everything that happens this time out is because of her ruthless fixation to find an ancient artifact in a lost city, no matter the cost.

But Lara’s road to victory isn’t for wimps. While this isn’t an overtly easy or difficult game—I’d say it’s just about right—you’ll want to comb enough areas, craft enough upgrades, and take advantage of a few key strategies to give you the edge you need. That said, here are five tips to surviving Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Overcome your surroundings


The opening moments of Rise of the Tomb Raider are just as successful at showcasing the game’s awe-inspiring graphics as they are at introducing players to the deadly environmental hazards that lie ahead. We’re first reacquainted with Lara Croft on a massive, snowy mountaintop in Siberia that she must further ascend by climbing up icy walls with her trusty axe, pulling off death-defying leaps between enormous gaps, grabbing onto slippery ledges the moment before falling to her death, and escaping a colossal avalanche.

There’s not much in the way of epic gunplay or head-scratching puzzle solving at first, just heart-pounding exploration to help familiarize players with the game’s core mechanics that feel as fluid and fun as ever.

Like in the previous Tomb Raider, when Lara dies, it’s pretty gnarly, so watch your step and be ready for unsuspecting booby traps from the get-go. The upshot makes for an adrenaline-fueled experience that puts most blockbusters to shame. Sorry, Lara, but it only gets tougher from here.

Puzzles can be deceiving


One of the earlier brain-busters in Rise of the Tomb Raider involves raising the water levels to progress past a blockade, but the solution is actually simpler than it seems. Having to deal with this so early in the campaign feels a bit cruel at first, but effectively cautions Lara to survey her surroundings and also to not be duped by the occasional red herring. Few of the games trickiest hurdles are as complicated as they initially appear to be.

Once you get the hang of things, you’re probably ready to take on the game’s more advanced mental workouts, which you’ll certainly encounter when investigating its well-hidden optional tombs. The difficulty of these areas can be quite severe, but don’t be discouraged to revisit them at a later point. In fact, you won’t be able to even enter several without the right skills and artillery. Like 2013’s Tomb Raider, lengthy on-foot backtracking isn’t required, thanks to the ability to fast travel to various campsite locations scattered throughout the map. But the more upgrades Lara earns, the more you’ll want to retrace your steps to see what you’ve missed. And the tomb goodies can be quite rewarding—the extra effort is always worth it. As fast-paced and intriguing as the story can be, this is a world you’ll want to fully explore.

Gather resources


More than ever before, it’s essential that Lara collects as many twigs, mushrooms, and relics as possible in order to gain experience, make medicine and, most importantly, craft new weapons. You don’t want to find yourself surrounded by a dozen soldiers with a measly handgun, or confronted by a grizzly bear with a non-poisonous arrow. That’s very likely to happen if you don’t employ Lara’s very handy survivor view that conveniently highlights anything she can pick up, or even blow up. And again, don’t forget to revisit previous locales with new upgrades. Many of the game’s most valuable goodies are initially inaccessible, so take mental note of where they are on your map.

Learn new languages


One of the game’s new additions that will help Lara locate hidden goodies and complete key objectives is translation. As she advances through her perilous journey, she’ll come across various stone tablets, notes, and tombs with a foreign language scribbled on it that she’ll gradually piece together every time she encounters one. As Lara’s language repertoire increases, she’ll be able to decipher these messages to uncover essential clues that will lead her in the right direction. While it’s not imperative to learn everything, the more Lara knows, the more perks and experience she’ll gain to help her along the way.

Bottles are deadlier than bullets


Whether you prefer wielding a semi-automatic or an old school bow-and-arrow, don’t overlook the various household items scattered about most battlegrounds. With the right resources, a tin can turn into a nasty grenade, and a bottle of booze can be upgraded to a fiery Molotov cocktail. When you see a cluster of enemies, there’s probably something you can chuck at them or something you can shoot near them that will cause maximum damage to multiple targets. Going in gun crazy is rarely your best option, so look around for creative ways to eliminate your foes. It’s also really fun to surprise unsuspecting baddies with a huge explosion, overhead kill, or a good ol’ body bomb rigged to one of their pals’ lifeless corpses. Their are countless possibilities, and you should be exploring each one.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is out November 10 on Xbox One and 360. Windows and PlayStation 4 owners will have to hold out until late 2016 to get their hands on it, but the wait will definitely be worth it.