Tomb Raider Hands-On: Use Experience Points To Teach Lara Skills

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Square Enix has a playable build of Tomb Raider at Comic-Con, which puts players in control of a battered Lara Croft. Visibly wounded and unarmed, Lara begins the demo tiptoeing across a log. "I can do this," she nervously muttered as I gently tilted the analog stick forward.


Lara made it across safely, but was trapped on a spit of land overlooking a roaring waterfall. The only way to move is up by grabbing on to a rusted plane. I gave her a running start and while Lara made it across she lost her grip. This played out as a QTE and I had to quickly hit X to make her grab hold of the plane.


Lara clearly lacks finesse in this Tomb Raider game, an intentional decision by developer Crystal Dynamics. And just when you think Lara is getting the hang of platforming, Tomb Raider has scripted sequences where Lara tumbles to the ground or gets caught in a trap.


Good thing these events don’t shave off her health. Lara Croft will grow in Tomb Raider because you get XP (survival points) for doing just about everything. Walking to a checkpoint rewards players with an XP boost and so does surviving a drop.


These points can be spent on skills like these from the Ingenuity tree:

Arrow Retrieval – Retrieve arrows from enemies

Survivalist – Extra XP from food

Hunter – Spot animals more easily with survival instinct

Animal Instincts – Nearby animals auto trigger survival instinct

Bone Collector – Salvage items from corpses

Increased Ammo – Carry more ammunition

Explorer Intuition – See the approximate position of undiscovered tombs

Researcher Intuition – See the approximate position of items a character can use.

Safe Landing – Press B when landing to reduce damage.


Hunting was the focus of this Tomb Raider demo, but first Lara has to get a weapon. Moving from her self-made campsite, Lara exclaims how hungry she is and sees a shrivelled body hanging from a tree carrying a bow. I scurried up a grass covered building and leapt to a platform close to the dangling corpse. Lara tepidly lunged forward, but tumbled with the body when she tried to grab the bow. With some hesitation, Lara pried the bow off the deceased.


Your next task is to cook a meal and fortunately for Lara a young deer appears right before her eyes. You can pull the bow string back with the left trigger and fire an arrow with the right trigger. Lara starts off with a limited supply of arrows, but there were a few ammo caches in the demo usually with a single digit number of arrows.


The trick to hunting the deer was moving slowly. Running and walking through bushes makes noise which startles the deer. I found if I drawing the bowstring first then walking while aiming was the key to staying quiet.


It took two arrows to take the deer down and Lara, with sorrowful eyes, cut the deer open. Meat in hand, an objective told me to walk back to the camp site. I decided to explore the lush area first and found more stacks of arrows, but there was only one deer in the area. I suppose, if you don’t mind scavenging, there will be enough arrows for novice archers.


When I got back to camp, Lara ate a meal and the demo ended with clips from the hands-off demo Square Enix showcased at E3. Tomb Raider comes out for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on March 5th, 2013.

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