TA Playlist Wrap-Up for February 2024 - Rise of the Tomb Raider

In February, the TA Playlist gave a second chance to a sequel that came in second in a previous poll. Check out all the stats and community feedback for our second journey with Lara Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider!

The TA Playlist Team

The TA Playlist Team


“I seem to have a habit of running afoul of religious zealots. But I suppose it all goes with the territory.”
~Lara Croft
February is the second month of the year, so we decided to make it a Second Chance month for the TA Playlist, picking some previous contenders which didn’t win their polls in the past. To carry the theme further, we only picked games that came in second in their respective polls, and were also the second games in their respective series.

This left us with a narrow selection of games to choose from, but they represented a wide variety of genres and gameplay elements, from the co-op cooking party game Overcooked! 2 to the hauntingly beautiful Metroidvania Ori and the Will of the Wisps to the quirky and fun action/platformer Psychonauts 2. However, none of those choices could compete with intrepid adventurer Lara Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which leapt out to an early lead and never looked back.

The second game in the rebooted Tomb Raider “Survivor” trilogy, Rise of the Tomb Raider was developed by Crystal Dynamics, and launched as a timed Xbox exclusive in November 2015 on both the Xbox One and the Xbox 360, with a PC version arriving in January 2016. It was previously featured in the July 2018 TA Playlist Poll, where it finished just behind Fallout: New Vegas.

Picking up about a year after the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot (which was featured in the August 2021 TA Playlist), Lara Croft is still trying to process the events of her adventure on the island of Yamatai. With all evidence of the supernatural events on the mythical island lost, no one believes Lara’s stories about the Sun Queen Himiko and her army of undead soldiers, and she starts to develop a reputation as “another crazy Croft” chasing ghosts and legends instead of doing serious archaeology.

Determined to prove that her father’s research was correct, Lara embarks on a new expedition to Syria in search of the tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople and the secret of immortality. The tomb itself is empty, but Lara does find a clue pointing to a Russian legend of a lost city called Kitezh, and an artifact called the Divine Source. A paramilitary band of mercenaries called Trinity is also searching for the Prophet, however, and when a Trinity operative steals Lara’s father’s research, it becomes a race to see who can locate the lost city first.

Bitz said:
Would argue this is the best of the trilogy. There were full tombs this time. Where the first game was fun, it was a survival story without any survival mechanics. Rise expanded everything at time before we all burned out of crafting. Rise brings back classic mechanics and puzzles, and added depth to Lara by showing the internal struggle of dealing with how the events of the first game affected her, and the struggles with her mother and father. Lara seems more of a human with flaws, helping to make the journey more relatable. Plus the additional religious themes with Jacob being the prophet who led people out of Constantinople. Every aspect felt improved over the 2013 release. The challenge tombs were enjoyable. The bow and stealth mechanics were satisfying, but arguably overpowered. Typically, only used stealth due to the assault rifles seeming less effective than a single headshot. Enjoyed all the DLC including the coop survival mode.

As Lara heads to Siberia with her friend and fellow explorer, Jonah Maiava, she’ll have to face the harsh elements, vicious wildlife, an army of well-trained soldiers, and even the undead guardians of the ancient city in order to find the secret of the Divine Source. The Lara Croft portrayed in this game has come a long way compared to the inexperienced adventurer we saw at the beginning of the previous game, and the developers put a lot of focus on showing how Lara has grown and changed following her experiences on Yamatai.

Spa1h said:
So finally, during the last hours of February I have beaten the story on survivor difficulty. It was a very fun experience. Good story, good pacing, good mix between parkour and fights.
Compared to the first entry of the reboot trilogy, I like that there were much less over-the-top-Oh-NO-I'M-dying-parts. Also the game has less gore and creepiness, almost no dumb shooting range parts, better challenge dungeons and tombs, a more interesting story and lore and smoother balancing between difficult and easier parts.
I cannot really relate to the motivations and actions of the "prophet", but the combination of story, gameplay and backstories from different time periods (Greek, Mongolian, Soviet and recent...) create an immersive adventure environment. Story twists are well placed throughout the game and hit me by surprise almost every time. Also the ending is satisfying especially considering it's hinting "Shadow of the tomb raider." The visuals are still amazing in the year 2024 and I felt like I was in an interactive movie at times.
Overall one of the best games of its specific kind, I can really recommend. Completing everything it has to offer achievement-wise seems a bit tedious though. I'm not sure if I will go for it.
Most of the commenters in our forums agreed that Rise of the Tomb Raider generally improved on the 2013 reboot game, especially in terms of the gameplay mechanics and side content, such as the optional challenge tombs, which were larger and more intricate than the ones from the previous entry in the series.

hammerpunch said:
Best game in the trilogy imo. Liked the story and mix between puzzles, platforming and combat.
However, as is usually the case when we’re dealing with a game that’s part of a franchise, there were differing opinions about which game is actually the best in the series.

Catatonic Nali said:
Like Rise quite a bit but it's probably the weakest of the reboot trilogy in my opinion. The original games are still where it's at for me.

For those who preferred the 2013 Tomb Raider, the most commonly-cited reason was that the story in Rise of the Tomb Raider didn’t quite live up to the standard of its predecessor, or didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from what happened in the previous game, especially in terms of the enemies. Trinity, after all, is not portrayed that much differently from the Solarii of the previous game, and the Deathless Ones of Kitezh are very similar to the Queen’s Guard from Yamatai.

Cylon 118 said:
I truly enjoyed both this one and the first (still yet to play the 3rd) but felt the first one was better in terms of story as the location and supernatural element felt more unique and interesting than Rise. I mean, we just have undead soldiers again… really hoping the 3rd game’s supernatural element is something new, but gameplay-wise this one improves on everything the first one did, and playing on extreme survivor almost gives me Dark Souls vibes as I was like, “Bonfire, where’s the next bonfire?! Wanna save!”
Thragg Avenger said:
What I never really understood about Rise of the Tomb Raider is that it objectively improves on Tomb Raider (2013) in pretty much every way, yet I prefer the earlier game by a distance. Not sure if that says more about RotTR or me, but there you go laugh
One of our Playlist regulars theorized that the difference came down to Lara’s supporting cast, which featured several of Lara’s close friends and crewmates from the Endurance in the first game, and provided a good amount of Lara’s motivation to survive her tribulations on Yamatai. Jonah is the only returning companion, and while he does need to be rescued here and there, he’s not as big of a factor in the game as Lara’s crew were in the previous story.

TymanTheLong said:
They mostly stood around arguing but the original game did have a bigger crew and perhaps that makes the game feel like it had higher stakes or something. In the next two games Jonah is mostly a voice on the radio. […]
With that said I’m glad to say this is probably the best of the reboot trilogy. I’ve replayed several times as they added Survivor difficulty well after launch and it just doesn’t get old, the game play feels great every time. Lara is more competent than in the first game and less murdery than in the final game. I also really love the section leading up to the game climax, it’s really well done.

The add-ons for this game received a lot of discussion in the forums. Instead of the tacked-on multiplayer from the 2013 reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider has “Expeditions,” which include a Score Attack mode and level replays, as well as the Endurance Mode DLC, which adds hunger and warmth trackers that force you (with an optional co-op partner) to collect artifacts while seeing how long you can survive against the elements and enemies in each level.

CrazeeCoyote said:
This was my favourite of the trilogy. I was unsure if I'd like Endurance Mode but ended up having a good time playing it with a friend.
Not everyone was quite so happy with the new additions, however:

Thragg Avenger said:
Also, every additional game mode outside of the main campaign is horrible and can absolutely do one. I'm sure there's a way to make a Lara Croft Challenge Mode fun to play, but these are 100% not it!
Bitz said:
Never cared for New Game Plus, or difficulty being added. Would have appreciated the Extreme Survivor difficulty being playable before the 20 year celebration. Playing the game again a year later for an added difficulty achievement does not add more depth.
Additionally, the feeling of not getting the full experience existed due to the PS4 20 year anniversary release including the Croft manor in VR. With this being one of, if not the first time I could remember the term “timed exclusive” there were more questions, did I play a less complete version that released in stages instead of one complete package? With exclusivity did the sales underperform, causing the third entry to get passed to Eidos, resulting in Shadow of the Tomb Raider not being as much of a step forward? Even with Rise of the Tomb Raiders faults, it was one of my favorite games of the Xbox One generation. Maybe top 20. Thinking back, it feels like a lifetime ago.
And for some, all the achievements tied to these different game modes simply increased the grind for that 100% completion, and soured the experience of the game as a whole.

IronAznSnsation said:
Love the puzzle aspects but hate collectibles and time trials. I get that it's added replay for some, but it's a deterrent for me. Might one day play a remaster but for now it's a pass.
MorseyBaby said:
Yeah the bulky online list I think is what put me off for so long, but everyone I know who has played it has waxed lyrical about it so I reckon I should definitely give it a go. TA Playlist strikes again.
In addition to the Endurance Mode DLC, there were several other pieces of post-game content, including the Baba Yaga DLC, which opens up a new side quest, and the 20-Year Celebration add-on, which introduces an Extreme Survivor mode and gives the player new missions to explore Croft Manor, bringing the game to a whopping total of 143 achievements for 100%.

Xynvincible said:
I did enjoy this one, but man the completion is brutal.
The other aspect of the game that saw a lot of negative discussion was the two achievements listed as “Partially Discontinued/Unobtainable,” as just seeing that show up on a game’s page is enough to keep some gamers from starting it. In this case, however, those two achievements — “Way to Go” and “Golden Child”, both tied to the Score Attack mode — are only unobtainable if you’re playing the Xbox One version with the 4K patch. A simple workaround is to complete all the requirements on the console, then play one via cloud streaming, which should pop the achievements.

ShinUkyo said:
This is a relief to hear about the workarounds for the ones that are otherwise unobtainable. One of the upsides of shared lists between generations (unlike PlayStation, which lost this capability in the move to PS5 generation. And there's no end of headaches with trophies there because of it forcing separate lists for PS4/PS5 ports of the same games.)

Kerman7 said:
A very good game within a very successful reboot. It's been a while since the last one though. Wondering if there is more coming or if next time will be another reboot. Hope everyone is enjoying playing it.
It was announced in 2022 that Crystal Dynamics had started working on the next Tomb Raider game using Unreal Engine 5 and that it would be published by Amazon Games, although it wasn’t specifically announced as a sequel to the “Survivor” trilogy.

In the run-up to the franchise’s 25th anniversary in 2021, Crystal Dynamics said that they were working to “unify these timelines,” so fans shouldn’t give up hope on seeing future adventures with this version of Lara Croft. The upcoming Netflix anime series Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft, starring Haley Atwell as Lara Croft, will follow on from the events of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, so that series could give us an idea of how the developers plan to bring Lara’s journey full circle.

5,910 gamers popped at least one achievement in Rise of the Tomb Raider during the month of February, including 2,369 who started it for the first time, and 39 who managed to complete one of the tracked versions of the game (143 achievements worth 2,250 Gamerscore for the Xbox One and Windows versions of the game, or 85 achievements worth 1,750 Gamerscore for the Xbox 360 version, which had fewer achievements in both the base game and the DLCs, and never received the 20 Year Celebration DLC at all).

In total, the TA community unlocked 59,975 achievements across all three tracked versions during February, for a total of 891,200 Gamerscore and 1,560,389 TrueAchievement Score.

No surprise, but “Following in Father’s Footsteps” from the Xbox One version was by far the most-unlocked achievement, popped 2,060 times during the month of February. The least-unlocked achievements were the Xbox 360 versions of “Uncovering the Truth” and “Legendary Gunsmith”, both from the “Cold Darkness Awakened” DLC pack, with three unlocks apiece. Both achievements carry a ratio of just 2.56, so they’re not even the highest-ratio achievements in the Xbox 360 version of the game, let alone the highest overall, so that’s probably an indication of how few people joined in with the 360 version of the game this month.

I honestly wasn’t sure we’d have anyone make the February 2024 Shout-Out List, but it turns out there were three intrepid adventurers who managed to start and complete the game during the month. What’s more, we had exactly one Shout-Out for each platform: AmericanEvol completed the Xbox One version, cadillacchavez unlocked all the achievements in the Xbox 360 version, and RoguexCanadian played the Windows version from start to finish during the month. AmericanEvol takes the top prize, with just 88 hours and 21 minutes from first unlock to last, but all three of these gamers deserve a round of applause for completing this game’s daunting achievement list in a single month.

March is almost over, but you’ve still got some time to join in with this month’s TA Playlist game, Cyberpunk 2077. Either unlock an achievement in the game before midnight UTC on April 1, or drop by the Spoiler-Free and Spoiler Discussion Threads to talk about your experiences with the criminal underground in Night City. And stay tuned for the April 2024 TA Playlist Game of the Month! The winner of that poll will be announced at the end of this week. See you in April!

Thanks to BetaSigX20 for this news suggestion.
Written by The TA Playlist Team
The TA Playlist is a monthly community event. Everyone votes on which of four games to play, and then we all play through it in the following month. There's a dedicated hub to discuss everything about the game, from story beats to gameplay tips – and of course, you can track your achievement progress during the month as well. TA Playlist was created by Mark Delaney and is now run by Miles, Nici and Chewie.
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