When VR disrespects Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider has a new DLC called Blood Ties and it’s both tragically terrible and brilliantly fun.
For the record, I love Virtual Reality (VR) when it’s not making me sick and wishing Jesus would snatch my soul. It’s a wonderful way for me to immerse myself in the game’s world, have a greater appreciation for its design and if done right, can control my emotions. However, when done sloppily, it can be a nightmare. This was a nightmare. Technically nightmares evoke an emotion, instead this made me feel dead inside.
Blood Ties without the PSVR is fantastic, especially for die-hard Tomb Raider fans and lovers of history. The aim is to seek out proof that Lara Croft is the rightful heir to Croft Manor, her childhood home. It’s wonderful to see artifacts, family photos and to read through Lara’s diary. There are also fun facts about Lara’s father, maps, an extensive library collection and puzzle solving to further the exploration of the manor.
By itself, Blood Ties is a relaxed experienced where players can appreciate the time and energy it took developers to detail Lara Croft’s family and the expansive manor. It’s really a dusty poorly lit episode of an HGTV show.
However, the fun experience is ruined by the unnecessary exploitation of VR. There really is no point for the VR. It’s sloppily done and painfully annoying. Players have to launch Lara in the direction they want her to go which ends up looking like a teleporting ghost. Between trying to master body launching, adjusting the headset and artifact gathering, frustration tends to rise, control buttons get mixed up and players end up walking into their own wall.
This tedious action, coupled with a lack of intense action distracts the player from fully immersing themselves in the game and it truly feels like the developers added VR as a gimmicky afterthought instead of building the game around the VR. Clearly no one watched The Last Airbender.
Despite the lack-luster experience, there is a saving grace to Blood Ties, the game can be played without VR, which is sad since it’s marketed for the one thing that’s its downfall. Oh, the irony…now in VR.
There are different modes to play, but the better option is to play with just a controller. Or to play with the headset and the ability to use the controller to walk around like the normal game this needs to be. But it doesn’t solve the fact that VR is just a waste. There’s only so many dusty air particles one needs to see closeup.
Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties for PSVR is a sad effort and an embarrassing way to introduce people to VR. Hopefully they’ll be a VR patch that will erase this experience from players memories.