The first of seven planned DLC expansions has just been released for Lara's latest adventure so let's see what's included.
In The Forge, Lara and her new friend Abigaile team up to uncover more about Abigaile's past and why her grandmother left her a map of Kuwaq Yaku, her home town. Typical of Lara's instincts, she quickly discovers a hidden message on the map that's uncovered upon holding it up to a flame. Lara promptly takes two of the three revealed spots while Abigaile runs to the other side of the village to discover what's hidden at the third. After uncovering more artifacts at the locations and piecing a puzzle together, a new marker appears that's said to lead to the truth. When Lara makes it to the destination, she finds herself at a challenge tomb set in a fiery forge filled with swinging rocks, gas geysers, and a tall pillar that she must climb to reach the end of the tomb and claim her prize.
The whole journey itself is quite short and took me one and a half hours to complete it. There were some spots where I had to think in order to complete the next piece of the puzzle and other parts where I just couldn't seem to get Lara's footing right and would try to reach a seemingly out-of-reach ledge in vain. The number of strangely positioned ledges seems to be higher than normal in this DLC but it doesn't stop you from completing it or having fun while doing so for long. With most of the tomb being underground, the scenery is quite dark and can be uninteresting when compared with the lush forest or busy villages in the rest of the game, save for the moments where you shoot a fire arrow at a gas geyser to cause an explosion in order to move something.
The story uncovers who Abigaile is and how she came to possess some of the instincts that we see in Lara. She seems like a natural fit to introduce the new co-op mode that's accessible by selecting the challenge tomb from the main menu. From there, time attack and score attack modes are available in either solo or co-op. Time attack is pretty much what you'd expect it to be and your score can be tracked in an online leaderboard. You'll receive a gold medal for completing the entire tomb in less than five minutes with the bronze clocking in at only eight minutes. In score attack mode, you play through the challenge tomb while collecting coloured orbs along the way. There's no more difficulty introduced when compared to time attack mode other than deciding if you want to go slightly off track to collect an orb and increase your multiplier. The multiplier decreases if you stop collecting orbs so you'll try to complete it as fast as you can anyway.
List of unlockable items Spectre Gear
The following "Spectre Gear" items are unlocked upon completing The Forge DLC's challenge tomb:
Grenadier skill: craft and fire grenades when equipped with a rifle.
Umbrage 3-80: a new rifle with high stats that's good for hurling those newfangled grenades directly at your enemy.
Brocken outfit: tactical gear that lowers your chance of being discovered and provides bonus XP for stealth kills.
If you decide to play through the challenge tomb in co-op mode, you'll have an easier time tackling the new modes for high scores so that's certainly incentive to do so. The tomb is built to be completed in either solo or co-op but there are places that you can't reach unless you play with another player and get their help. You can also place a marker on the screen to tell your friend to take action somewhere if you prefer not to communicate verbally or don't own a microphone. To uncover every nook and cranny and get a high score on the leaderboards, you'll need to practice and get your timing just right so this could add replay value for perfectionists.
I'm a little disappointed with this first pack of DLC given that it's so short, the tomb isn't very interesting, and the two new modes are quite similar. However, I love that co-op mode is introduced as it's definitely the most promising addition. Here's hoping for more interesting scenery and lengthier challenges in future DLC packs.
- + New co-op mode is a fun addition
- + A good excuse to learn more about one of the game's supporting characters
- + Unlocks a few cool new items
- - Challenge tomb is short and uninspired
- - Score and time attack modes are too similar and far from exciting
- - Unlocked items are mostly cosmetic