August 12, 2014.
I can’t remember what I was doing the night before to make me so tired. Undoubtedly, I’d stayed up into the small hours watching, playing, or working on something or other. Whatever I’d been up to, it had robbed me of the energy to sit through that day’s Microsoft Gamescom conference.
I didn’t mind. I was looking forward to the conference, but really only for one game, and sleeping through the thing would allow me to bypass everything else and get straight to the information I wanted — which is exactly what happened. I slept. I woke up. I grabbed my phone, checked Twitter. And the gaming world as I had known it came to an abrupt end. Full stop. It was over.
While I can’t recall my activities of the night before, I remember this part of the story with exceptional clarity. I flicked through my Twitter feed, skimming past 99% of what I saw, in search of news about one thing, and one thing only. Eventually, I happened upon a Tweet by my good friend @TombRaiderArch.
“Well, Tomb Raider, guess we’ll part ways at Temple of Osiris. Already decided to get a PS4 & I’m not willing to buy a 2nd console. Too bad.” — @TombRaiderArch.
Immediately, I suspected the worst. And the worst it was: Rise of the Tomb Raider had been announced as an Xbox exclusive.
I was devastated, and, along with the vast majority of Tomb Raider fans around the world, more than a little pissed off. I did the only things I could think to do: expressed my dissatisfaction on Twitter, and wrote about the news.
I was so annoyed that I went as far as to compare the announcement to the then-very-recent death of Robin Williams. Looking back, that was in very poor taste. I genuinely regret it. I don’t, however, regret my feelings towards the exclusivity. Though the raw, red-misted anger has since subsided, I feel exactly how I felt about that exclusivity today as I did then. In fact, I loathe it more than ever — which really is saying something.
In the time since August 2014, I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on an Xbox One. I’ve been able to play Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the truth of the matter is that is a fantastic game. Both objectively, and from the standpoint of already having been a fan of the series. Rise improves upon its predecessor in pretty much every way. It is well and truly the game Tomb Raider should have been.
My review might give the impression that I had a lot of problems with it, but that it does is a consequence of my trying to provide a balanced opinion of my time with it. The reality is that I love Rise of the Tomb Raider. I adore it. I can’t recommend it enough, and find it to be an absolute travesty that it’s not getting — nor is likely to get — the attention it deserves. Not wholly.
Say what you will, but there’s no arguing with the fact that initially releasing on Xbox platforms alone is going to hurt Rise. Fans of the series will be well aware of it when the game finally comes to other platforms, but the widespread hype will be gone. The impending PC release might fare okay, but I think we can be reasonably confident that Sony aren’t going to promote Rise in any meaningful way in the days leading up to its debut on their console.
There’s bound to be some bad blood there, but it’s clear that there is also a considerable amount of the stuff amongst existing fans of the series. Some even speak of boycotting Rise when it comes to their platform of choice.
This is completely understandable. Really, it is. But it’s also why I’m writing this post — to urge those fans, and anyone else who might be thinking along the same lines, not to make that choice, not to ignore Rise of the Tomb Raider because of the deals made around it.
These deals are not the game’s fault, and nor are they the fault of the people who worked so hard to make it. Crystal Dynamics have delivered a stellar game. They really have. And their work should not be devalued by this profoundly shitty situation. By all means, make your anger at the situation known, but don’t punish the developers for it. Instead, support them by playing their excellent game. In doing so, you’ll see just how much they deserve it.
If the backlash hasn’t done the trick, maybe strong sales on PC and PS4 will tell the bigwigs what they should already have known.
On August 12, 2014 — and in the days that followed — the Tomb Raider community as a whole joined together and made its voice heard. But the reality is that, at that point, the terms of Microsoft’s deal were probably set in stone.
We made our dissatisfaction clear, but there was likely little we could do, then, to change the situation — and the time to try has passed. Now, it’s time to accept what happened, to lay down our pitchforks, and to wait. To wait for the inevitable announcement of Rise’s successor, and to see whether the people in charge try to take us down this road again. If that happens, then, by all means, raise those pitchforks once more. I’ll be right there with you.
Until then, though, try to keep an open mind. Give Rise of the Tomb Raider a chance. Don’t let yourself miss out on one of the best games of the year because of some short-sighted, profoundly misguided decisions.
Rise deserves that chance. The folks over at Crystal D. deserve that chance. And — if you’ve been a Tomb Raider fan for any length of time at all — you deserve it, too. It sounds trite, I know. I’m painfully aware of it as I type the words — but it’s true, ladies and gentlemen, it’s true.