You may have heard the news that a new Tomb Raider game released this week. Before you get too excited, though, temper your expectations: it’s a mobile game.
That shouldn’t completely put you off, however. We’ve put a fair bit of time into Tomb Raider: Reloaded both pre- and post-launch this week, and found it to be rather enjoyable. This is hardly Lara Croft at her best – it’s a generic mobile adventure game that could feaeture just about any action character and still work just as well – but it’s a fun way to pass some time.
You could describe Tomb Raider: Relaoded as a level-based roguelike of sorts. If you die while on a level – which vary in length between 15 and 50 stages – you’ll need to start right back at the beginning. But you’ll have earned various currencies and items that can be used to upgrade your character, making it a little easier to succeed next time.
Of course, being a mobile game, that ‘next time’ is limited by how many tickets you have available. A run typically costs five tickets, and you’ll have a maximum of 20 at any one time. Once you’ve spent some, they’ll refill over time so you’re not too limited, but you can’t play endlessly. Perhaps that’s for the best, for the sake of our productivity. But there are other things to be doing even if you’ve got no tickets.
Various events will become available the more you play, allowing you to take on different challenges, using special types of tickets. And simply rounding up all the rewards you unlock after every run, fiddling around with your inventory to upgrade or craft new items and claiming everything available to you can take some time. It’s not exactly the most streamlined of apps, and you’ll find rewards dotted all over the place.
For starters, Tomb Raider: Reloaded gives you daily rewards simply for logging in. Then, under a different icon, you’ll find daily and weekly rewards for meeting certain goals. Elsewhere are ‘Daily Discoveries’, yet another type of daily reward. Then there’s yet another icon to redeem Exploration Rewards, offering goals for each level you complete. There’s also a Workshop, giving you weapon upgrade materials over time, free stuff available in the store, and event rewards to be claimed. Phew.
So, yes, finding everything you need to redeem in Tomb Raider: Reloaded is quite the task, and it’s easy to miss something. It feels a little messy, having so much stuff all in different places. But it does mean the game is pretty generous in rewarding you, making upgrading Lara an easy and speedy task – at least in the beginning. Along with upgrading Lara as a whole each time you gain a new level, you can also upgrade weapons, bullets, backpacks and accessories by using manual pages, increasing their damage output or the amount of HP or other benefits they give Lara.
That progress does slow down over time, as is the nature of mobile games. But you’ll at least get enough free currencies and items to give you a good start. It’s not a game that feels pay to win, although the standard Android/iOS versions do support microtransactions. There is another option to play, however, and it’s the one we’d urge you to go for if you can: play the Netflix version of Tomb Raider: Reloaded.
If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can download the game via the Netflix mobile app, giving you access to an almost-identical game, albeit with one key change: it has no microtransactions or adverts. It means instead of needing to use in-game currency or watch an advert to get a free revive, you’re simply given one. There are many more freebies in the in-game store, too, and items can only be bought with in-game currency (which can only be earned, not bought). We’ve not played enough of both versions to fully compare, but it seems to us that the Netflix version is more generous in its handouts, whereas the standard Android/iOS version has been cultivated to eventually encourage in-game spending.
But let’s talk about actually playing the game. You move by placing your finger anywhere on the screen, where a digital thumbstick will appear. When you’re stood still, Lara will automatically shoot, and so you’ll need to stand in place as often as possible, moving only to dodge incoming attacks. Easier said than done on later levels where enemy activity is fairly manic, but then that’s all part of the fun. You’ll gain experience after every stage, gaining levels regularly. Each new level lets you use a power-up – perhaps firing extra bullets, dealing arcane damage, or chucking fiery grenades – which all stack, making Lara quite the force to be reckoned with as the level draws on. These are all temporary, though, so once you’ve completed the level (or died), you’ll be starting afresh next time.
The power-ups you collect each time are random, as are the order of stages and the enemies you face off against, so no two runs of Tomb Raider: Reloaded are the same. The nature of the game is rather repetitive though, but constantly upgrading Lara and getting just a little bit better each time is rewarding.
We can’t say how long our enjoyment of Tomb Raider: Reloaded will last. We’ve found it varies heavily with mobile games. Sometimes we’re done in a week or two. Other times we keep dropping back in for months at a time. After a week or so with Lara’s latest adventure, though, we’re still keen to play daily, and we can see ourselves jumping back in for quite some time yet. Don’t expect a signature Tomb Raider experience, but if you’re after a new mobile game to occupy your twitchy digits with, this is one of the better ones out there.
Tomb Raider: Reloaded is available on Android and iOS. An ad-free and in-game purchase-free version is available via Netflix.