Rise of the Tomb Raider:A quick guide.

Edited version: 28-2-2016: cleaned up some text, added more.

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Index

  • Intro
  • Flow of the game
  • Do resources respawn?
  • Can I go back to an area I already visited before to explore more?
  • Are there enough Byzantine coins in the game?
  • Do I need to buy equipment?
  • Do you have any thoughts on the weapons?
  • How about skills?
  • Your thoughts on equipment?
  • Things to watch out for while underway
  • You thoughts on gear?
  • Are optional tombs profitable?
  • Pointers on combat and enemies
  • Hunting
  • Places to stock up
  • Extra fun

 

 

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Intro
Rise of the Tomb raider is the second installment of the reboot of the Lara Croft series. It is a neat game that impresses by visuals and most of all, by Lara Croft herself. When I played Rise of the Tomb Raider I had questions and many of these  were answered on the internet when I went looking for them(and some where not), but often I had to sit through lengthy YouTube movies or walk-troughs before I got the answer I was looking for. Some of these questions were so basic that I was amazed that answers were so hard to find. But perhaps this is just my ineptitude.
So I figured I make a kind of quick guide, say a kind of Q&A in which I answer my own questions and hope that this will help you to answer yours.

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Before I start I need to tell you some things, such as that this post is  aimed at the (experienced) casual player. The casual player is someone who will play through the main story line, with some digressions, can handle a weapon, but isn’t a pro( a pro is someone who can pull off head shots while jumping about) , and  will not aim at a 100% completion of the game, although he or she might.  The casual player isn’t someone who will power build, but might welcome some pointers on what to do and not to do and who will probably play the game on a standard level, in this game called tomb raider.
Also I will tell you that I think this game is well done. It smartly  combines a well told story with with an open world to explore. It makes possible to follow your own way, either by following the main story only or by exploring the world. How well this is done is for instance by the fact that almost all dungeons are optional. Yet each come with a reward. A reward not necessary for the main story line, but something that makes things easier, specifically for exploring the world.
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Perhaps the greatest aspect of this game is Lara herself. The animations are so well done that is feels like a movie. And the game smartly ties her in with a few persons, like Jonah, Ana, Sofia and Jacob, thus making her more convincing.

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Lara and her friend Jonah,

I also would have applaud the makers of the game for listening to the players by elimination all Quick Time Events. Yes, they got rid of these pains: the ones where you have to smash an arbitrary set of buttons.  Well.. almost. Two are still in there. One early into the game and another at the end. I can hear them laughing. And it is forgiven because it is funny.

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Flow of the game
The game changes during progression. So when you return to an area you will notice it has changed. An example is the first play area, the Siberian wilderness, which will change overtime as day turns into night and the otherwise peaceful area gets more dangerous because after a while enemies will make an appearance.

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Do resources respawn?
Yes they do, but this is dependent on the progress of the game. Initially the respawn is very slow and you will feel the lack of resources as make your first few arrows and first few kills. Which is a good thing as it make the tension all the greater the rewards all the bigger. When the game progresses you will find that eventually that you have more than enough resources to do most of the things and when you lack them, you can always get more.

Can I go back to an area I already visited before to explore more?
All areas that are important will remain accessible throughout the game. In fact this is almost required as some places will only become available after you have gotten special gear such as the explosive arrows and some things  you can only  get after you read a monolith, which is dependent on your language skill, or when you find a map or a satchel.  In other words: don’t worry about having skipped something, you can always return later.

Are there enough Byzantine coins in the game?
Byzantine coins are used to buy equipment at the supply shack. There are more than enough coins in the game to buy everything. I ended with 138 coins more than I needed after I had bought everything in the shack. However, these coins have to be found and to find all the coins you have to explore the world far and wide and areas, hence coin stacks, open up only gradually during the game.
I did a second run through the game on the hardest mode survivor, skipping a lot of areas and only picking coins that were withing easy reach. It allowed me to buy the grenade launcher (120 coins) and some the pistol silencer(25). I had about 80 spare after that. So you follow only the main story line, be prepared to have far less. But read on for more advise about equipment.

Do I need to buy equipment?
The answer is no. None of the equipment you can buy at the supply shack is essential for the game although it makes life easier. The more you buy, the easier things get, but only marginally so for each piece of equipment, so don’t expect anything shocking. In fact buying things partly means you to get some things earlier in the game. An example is the shotgun. I ended the game with the full auto shotgun that I found, because I preferred that one above the one I bought. The most important reason was rate of fire and reload time.
Here are my observations:

Laser Sight
A laser sight is pretty superfluous if you are a decent shot as you already get a reticle. There is no sniper sight in the game. People seem to recommend this, I don’t see why.

Pistol silencer
I find the pistol class the weakest in the game, especially on survivor mode, and rarely use one. So why waste money buying a silencer for it? You bow is silent and a much a better weapon. And for speedy damage the silence assault rifle or smg works much better.

Combat Shotgun
Unless you want a shotgun early into the game the combat gun seems mostly pointless at isn’t much of an improvement on the full auto shotgun. Also the basic pump action shotgun, which is story given, is a decent weapon when you upgrade it.

Assault Rifle
This is a slightly improved version on the SMG. Again it is only a slight improvement.

Grenade Launcher
I prefer this one as it allows your rifle to lob grenades. While your bow will be able to do the same eventually, this is in addition too it. You get it earlier in the game and this will help you with a certain threat in the story line. Overal I find grenades in this game under powered. Lobbing one among a group doesn’t what you expected. You need to actually target an enemy and then it will take usually only that one out. Exploding barrels don’t require a grenade.

The refinement tool
This one is needed to unlock 4th level upgrades for all your weapons. While that makes it a worthwhile thing to buy, it is also the most expensive in the game. The upgrades aren’t very spectacular and require a lot of salvaging and hunting to upgrade the things so it has its drawbacks. Probably for someone who just wants to follow the main story this might be too expensive and too much salvaging effort

Combat gear: nothing useful here. It just looks cool.

My views is that the only worthwhile buys in the game are the grenade launcher and the refinement tool unless you are a shotgun buff. If you like shotguns then buy it so you don’t have to wait until you get one later.

Do you have any thoughts on the weapons?

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The game has five weapon types. Bows, pistols,rifles, shotguns and the climbing-axe..
Five weapons are a given as part of the story-line. The climbing-axe you get from the start and is the only weapon of its type. The makehift longbow you get when the game really starts in the Siberian Wilderness and will be replaced by the recurve bow.  The revolver, the assault rifle and the pump-action shotgun you get as part of the storyline. The other weapons you need to find/
This finding is done by finding strong boxes that will give you 1 out of 4 parts of a specific gun. I have seen sites telling you where to get what part, but when I redid the game, I found that this didn’t fit. Either the parts are more or less random or dependent on your difficulty setting. As an example: on tomb-raider level I managed to get the bolt rifle early into the game while in survivor mode I got the required part much later into the game.

Bow
My experience is that the bow is the one that gets the most benefits in the game and gives you the most varied options, from a fast weak shooter to a very powerful slow one. Eventually you can use it to launch fire arrows, explosive arrows and poison cloud arrows and even those can be upgraded.  The disadvantages of the bow are that you need to draw it, that the arrow needs to travel the distance and that is doesn’t have upclose stopping power. This sounds like it’s the worst of the weapons, but it isn’t. In fact it is probably one of the best weapons in the game and I wager you can win most battles with it.

It just depends on how you use it. You find different types of bows during the game.Specifically I found the poison cloud to be the most deadly in the game. When you aim it right and have the cloud upgrade you can take out groups of enemies in one go and they count as stealthy so they give extra points.

My favorite bow is the compound bow, which does a lot of damage per shot, but at a low rate of fire. I like my arrows to score hard when they hit.

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Pistol
Personally I found the pistol type the most useless and I used it mostly as a stopgap until I got a decent rifle. You might consider to equip it with a silencer that can be bought from the supply shack for a small amount to extend its usefulness. As remarked above, why spent money to silence a weapon that you rarely use? After I got a decent rifle I hardly used it, especially after you get a silencer for the rifle.

Rifle
The rifle is a category that holds the SMG, a  weapon that compensates weak damage with a high rate of fire, the Assault Rifle,  more damage, less rate of fire, which you get as part of the story line. I  prefer the Assault Gun to the SMG because it deals out more damage at a lower rate of fire, thus saving you bullets. The bolt action rifle is in a class of it’s own, coupled with the silencer it is an awesome weapon to kill animals and small groups of enemies, but is too slow in full scale battles and if you like single shotting people you might as well use the bow.

Shotgun
Shotguns are awesome because nothing satisfies more than seeing the charge of a fully armored warrior stopped in his tracks by a shotgun blow or two. It is an mightily effective weapon up to about 10 meter(30 feet).  It couples a lot of damage in a short amount of time, but only in close quarters. Hence it is the weapon of choice for any enemy trying to close combat you. It’s main drawback is the lack of enough shells to win every battle with it.

If you don’t want to spend time and resources on upgrading all the weapons then you probably need to concentrate on two, one if which is the bow and the other I would suggest to be either a rifle, which you then probably need to buy the grenade launcher for, or the shotgun, in which case you might consider buying it early on.

My preferred weapon on the hardest level is combining a bow with a shotgun. The bow for distant work and taking out groups of enemies with poison cloud and the shotgun for anyone trying to come close.

Ice-axe
The ice axe is an awesome weapon if you upgrade it and sink points in close combat. Lara can eventually kill even fully armored enemies with just the axe, if you know how to counter and hit at the right time. The disadvantage of the ice axe is that it comes with a finisher animation that might look cool but isn’t really handy when fighting multiple enemies.

How about skills?

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Lara has no less than 54 skills to choose from. That sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
Actually almost all skills only marginally improve her performance. This is well considered as no skill will suddenly make her superhuman, but a series of successive skills will.  There are many opinions about skills on the internet, but for a normal person most of the skills will not be very useful.
Also, even with a casual attitude you will be able get at least half of all the available skills so don’t worry about it.
Some skill you certainly should  consider to take are:
Avid Learner: gets you extra experience when reading things.
Lightfoot: falling distances are greatly increased: saves the annoyance of reloading.
Arrow Retrieval: get arrows back from you victims.
Naturalist: allows you get more natural resources.
Survivalist: even more important than Naturalist as non natural resources are harder to find.
Thick-Skinned & Heart of Stone & Iron Hide makes you less vulnerable to gunfire, fire, explosions and melee attacks. Some people do not see the point of this, but it helps when you are being swarmed by enemies.
Breath Control & Nerves of Steel: allows you to have a more steady aim with the bow.
Crafting Mastery: allows for larger ammo and resource pouches and increases ammo created.
Death Cloud Arrows: increases the poison cloud effect. A certain way to wipe out large groups of enemies and animals. Also buy the upgrade:
Grenadier: when you buy the grenade launcher, you have to get this one too otherwise you have to find grenades.
Scavenger: this isn’t of much use on normal level, but on survivor level might be.

Dubious skills(in my opinion)
Any skill enhancing close combat such as dodge counter, deadly force and dodge kill.You don’t want the waste points on this unless you are going for close combat or have points to burn. These are pro skills, who can use them effectively because you need to be a pro to pull these dodge counters off in a full scale battle.
Incidendary Bombs & Demolitions Expert. This sounds really cool until you realize that you can create bombs from the start without it and this skill just adds to it to allow you to make bombs from fuel cans and phones and gain extra expertise when you use them to kill people. If you are lucky you might even do it once a battle. Far better is using the phone to toss it someplace which will attract all enemy soldiers and the poison cloud them. This counts as a stealth attack and earns you the same amount of experience without buying the skill and spending precious resources. Even more: the fuel can will explode anyway when you shoot it.
Animal Instincts and Master of the Land: unless you really need to serious help to find wildlife to hunt you really don’t need this one. Mostly you will know where they are, even if you need to die for it once:P
Hollow Points and Dragonfire shells.
Hollow points are a special bullet that can be added to the pistol. I used them a few times, but didn’t find them worth the trouble.

Errata:

Cluster bomb arrows
An upgrade of your explosive arrows that is as underwhelming as the explosive arrows. It looks and sounds impressive and  seems ideal for crowd control but doesn’t seem to do anything at all but to the one you aim the arrow at. Most of the time the addition explosions miss. The poison cloud arrow is much better and even the napalm arrows make your enemies flap about this forgetting to fire at you.
Update: later in the game they do get effective just like the dragonshell shells.

Dragonfire shells Originally I found that these didn’t improve my shotgun as it looked like armored enemies seemed not to stagger when shot by these but did with the normal shells. However on a second play through later in the game, they apparently do. So I revised my review accordingly. It might be that enemies crouching behing their shield don’t stagger at all.

Your thoughts on equipment?

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Equipment can be very helpful and you need to spend resources on. I personally priotorize the satchel and the rucksack as it allows you to carry more resources which you will need for upgrades and creating ammo, bombs and the like.  A small and large oil sack might also be interesting.

Things to watch out for while underway
Danger!
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Whenever Lara is closing with hostiles, her stance changes  to a crouch and the music changes to an alarming drum. You know that enemies are near. Unfortunately for the more experienced player who doesn’t need or want those warning signs. It can’t be switched off.

Glow on the ground usually indicates a survival cache. Get it.

Your thoughts on gear?
During the game you collect a lot of  clothes. Almost all are just for changing Lara’s looks. However tow I deem to be special, which is the Sacra Umbra and the Siberian Ranger. These outfit increases your special ammo types for all weapons dramatically. The poison cloud arrows go from 3 to 7. Fire arrows go from 8 to 17. Grenade arrows go from 5 to 14. And so on.
The Sacra Umbra is a reward for finishing all 9 optional tombs, and this not only awards you all the extra skills that you get from these tombs, but also an extra amount of byzantine coins and the sacra umbra. But then: you need to finish all 9 tombs, talk to the lady below in the geothermal valley and cash it in with here.
I don’t know where I got the Siberian Ranger. When I found out I post it here.

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Gold can buy you equipment

Are optional tombs profitable?

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Optional tombs give special skill: nothing superpower full, but handy at times.

Almost all of the optional tombs give you a skill as reward. None of these skills are earth shattering, but they might change your game play a little bit for the better. Some are easy to solve, others are harder. All optional tombs give you additional byzantine coins when you cash them in with the lady at the geothermal valley. If you cash them all in you get a great outfit: the sacra umbra.

Pointers on combat and enemies
Lara will only encounter mundane enemies such as humans and animals. Early in the game humans are unarmored, as the game progresses people get to be more armored which prevents especially the bow from instant killing enemies with head shots as they start wearing helmets.  Later on you run in full armored enemies which makes it more work to kill them, but then you also get better arrows to compensate.
All enemies, except one type, can be instantly killed with poison cloud arrows, so stock up on that. The only exception is a guy who wears a fully armored suit that has it’s own oxygen supply apparently. He also comes equipped with a flamethrower. And is impervious to arrows and bullets. Just so you know.

Combat
Enemies almost all come in groups running from 3 to  6 individuals. In special cases it might be even more. Some battles feed more enemies into it as you kill them to keep the pressure on.
Enemies tactics follow a certain pattern. There are three types. There are the close combatants who will close with you.  They might even shoot at you  but their purpose is to kill you up close and personal. The second type is the one who hangs in the back and fires at you. Usually the first and the second are mixed.
The third type resembles type 2, but he doesn’t hang back but instead tries to flank you.
This is no sitting behind cover and taking out enemies game. From the start the enemy will throw grenades and molotov cocktails at you, flank you and send in close assaulter. It is also not much of a stealth game in my opinion as a lot of encounters shove you right in. Perhaps an expert at sneaking can do it stealthy, I found it isn’t easy or actually virtually impossible at times.

Hunting
You hunt animals for their skin to upgrade your  equipment and your weapons or just to gain experience or complete missions and challenges. Dear, razorbacks and the like will run away the moment they spot you and are often hard to find once they do.
Wolves, bears and tigers will attack you the moment you fire at them and non of them can be taken out with one shot(except for wolves later in the game). They close with you very fast and especially wolves are dangerous as they come in packs.
Wolves do not attack you directly but flank you.
A bear barrels into you and swipes at you with its paws. I wonder if anyone has every been able to kill it using the ice-axe.

Places to hunt
The Siberian Wilderness will have 1 to 3 dear often when you return. If you return too fast there might be non.  The bear in the cave will re-spawn after a time and is probably the easiest bear to kill in the game, which doesn’t say a lot as  even this one is extremely dangerous. The seem to be highly resistant to bullets as I tried to kill one with an assault gun and it took a lot of bullets. Thus poison cloud it and fire arrows at it.
Lucky you can get bear hides just by finding survival caches.There are also bunnies.. if you like to kill them.
The Soviet Installation has two places where wolves hang out. Both to either side of the saw mill in the middle. There is a kind of plain next to it with dear remains scattered about where often three wolves linger. You can poison cloud them from the saw mill. And climb up if you miss and they attack you. If you kill one wolf they also might bolt for a cave.
The other group of wolves are always two and they are in front of a cave across a bridge from the saw mill. When you shoot one, the other one runs away. If you approach they might attack you or run. Poison cloud might be an option.
Geothermal valley has a few places that might be profitable. One is near the sea where razorbacks abide. They come in groups of three or even four. The won’t attack you if you shoot at them, which I found interesting as I thought that a razorback might charge you. There is a tiger in one edge of the map. When it is there it is up in a tree and you can shoot at it from the house near the river.. but it will come at you as even shooting with a gun won’t kill it. If you retreat into the house it will run away.

Places to stock up
Some places re spawn resources at times. For ammunition I either visit the gulag once it is open. Usually there is a group of soldiers surrounded by ammo caches.  The soldiers themselves give you addition resource to improve your equipment with. Another place is the Siberian Wilderness which is also a good hunting place. The Siberian Wilderness has usually 4 soldiers later in the game which re spawn most of the time.
I tried the remnant bazaar at times, but I found it yielded nothing as often as it did.

Extra fun

One of the charming aspects of the game is that it isn’t just about shooting stuff, but one of the fun part is the collection of items. Each ‘relic’  or document gives you some extra experience points, I just collected them because I found the stories behind them nice.
So I bore you with some fun examples in another post.

 

 

 

More to follow…

 

 

 

 

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