Tomb Raider multi-player nocks an arrow

Posted by CB Droege

Square Enix has posted a teaser clip showcasing the multiplayer aspects of the new Tomb Raider game.

I doubt anyone is going to buy Tomb Raider specifically for its multi-player component. After all, Tomb Raider has always been about Lara and her explorations and puzzle solving. Yet, it seems like a lot of studios are feeling like they are required to include multi-player, so Tomb Raider will have it. What does multi-player Tomb Raider look like? Square Enix has released this video as part of their Final Hours of Tomb Raider promo series, in which they show off various elements of the game in their final design stages.

In the multiplayer mode, players will face off in teams of Island survivors. They will have access to the tools and weapons of the single-player mode, but tweaked to work in competition. The maps will be strewn with traps that the players can set in one another’s paths, but otherwise includes little variety.

The whole thing is essentially a separate game, however, designed at a different studio. "It's something we talked about when creating the initial design for Tomb Raider," said Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher. "But it was very important that there weren't any distractions from our focus on delivering a great single-player experience, so we parked the idea of creating multiplayer at Crystal Dynamics and looked to our sister studio, Eidos Montréal." (Eidos and Crystal Dynamics are both subsidiaries of Square Enix).

It honestly doesn’t look like there is much to it. I’m sure some players will get some enjoyment out of it, tacking a few extra hours of enjoyment onto the game, once they finish the single-player story, and I guess that’s fine, but it’s surely not doing anything revolutionary here, and it’ll likely be forgotten and unplayed within a few months of release, just like the multiplayer modes of many other games which are primarily single-player experiences, like Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted. They specifically say in the video that it’s not "just some add-on," but that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s not even made by the same studio, how are we supposed to consider it part of the core Tomb Raider experience?

I think the studio would have been much better served by a co-operative campaign. Square Enix could have spent these resources making a few extra environments in which players can work together as a pair or small team to overcome the obstacles and puzzles. That would feel a lot more like part of the spirit of Tomb Raider.

Tomb Raider hits all major platforms on March 5, 2013.