Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is more than a facelift, dev insists

Crystal Dynamics stands by 49.99 PS4 and Xbox One re-release.

Crystal Dynamics stands by its 49.99 PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of Tomb Raider.

In a question and answer session on the Eidos forum, Crystal Dynamics executive producer Scot Amos insisted Tomb Raider Definitive Edition was more than "only a facelift".

One participant called "Fission" questioned whether the Definitive Edition's full price was justified - calling it a "face-lifted version of the same game so soon after the release of the original".

"The lack of extra content (especially for the SP player) makes it hardly worth it," Fission added.

"It's a great question and while I don't control sales or prices, what I do know is that Tomb Raider is an awesome game," Amos replied.

"It has received many nominations and has an amazing fan base that keeps us striving to always deliver the best and always pushing ourselves to even do better.

"If it was 'only a facelift' AND we were only reselling it on the same platforms we'd already shipped it on, I would see your point. But as we're selling it on a new platform, with a lot of development work put in to custom craft it for the new platforms; with the new additions for the aesthetic, the physics, the particles, the lighting - taking advantage of next-gen features - so I absolutely stand by our decision to offer up Definitive Edition the way we are."

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition launches for PS4 and Xbox One in North America on 28th January and in Europe on 31st January. It includes the pre-order bonus tomb The Tomb of the Lost Adventurer, plus a bunch of the game's multiplayer add-ons - eight DLC maps, six weapons and four characters.

Six extra Lara outfits are also included, plus digital copies of the Dark Horse comic Tomb Raider: The Beginning, Brady Games' art book Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival plus Zachary Levi's The Final Hours of Tomb Raider documentary series.

Voice commands are supported on both consoles. On PS4 the DualShock 4 lights up when you use the torch.

But it's the graphical improvements most are concerned about. Definitive Edition, which was built in a year by Crystal Dynamics, Sleeping Dogs developer United Front Games and Nixxes, has had a graphical lick of paint and features a tweaked version of Lara Croft's face. It also has the previously PC-only next-gen hair for Lara Croft, made possible via AMD's TressFX technology.

"We'd love for every Tomb Raider fan to get to experience it on next-gen," Amos continued. "We are definitely looking to draw in those folks who may not have experience it yet on the last generation so they can experience this version on next-generation.

"But even for existing hardcore fans, we are confident in the offering we have as an excellent enhanced experience above and beyond what we'd previously provided. We wouldn't bring it to you all if we felt otherwise. You are the reasons we do what we do."

Other work done to the game includes up-rezzed geometry and textures, but it's clear Lara has enjoyed the most attention. Special materials were added that dynamically change when she wades through mud, gets blood on her, and when it rains or she is wet. The TressFX tech was "custom written and optimised for Lara this first-time out for us on next-gen as we hadn't ever done it before on consoles", Amos explained.

"The amount of extra work - three studios and a full year of development - have pushed the boundaries beyond just TressFX and upgraded textures.

"We now have a new particle system, new lighting work and enhanced shadow-casters, tons of more visual storytelling elements (more debris, more details on walls, more density in the environment for vegetation), upgraded characters (Lara and main story NPCs), and we've also put all of the DLC materials into this version for PS4/Xbox One.

"The amount of extra work - three studios and a full year of development - have pushed the boundaries beyond just TressFX and upgraded textures."

Crystal Dynamics executive producer Scot Amos

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"A few of our engineers were dedicated to improving physics both on Lara and in the world. A few quick examples - Lara has equipment on her that she acquires as she goes through her adventure. The climbing axe, her radio, her bow and a quiver of arrows, etc. All of these now have subtle but simulated physics on them so as she runs, jumps, falls, stumbles, they react accordingly giving her more grounding the world.

"Then the world itself... we added so many objects, plants, trees, and then wind and weather effects that also have physics simulation built into them to react with each other. Wind will make trees and leaves sway or flutter; cloth flaps against light or heavy winds accordingly; particles and Lara's TressFX hair will drift according to the directional wind impact. All-in-all it adds a great additional depth and realism to the world."

While both versions run at full 1080p resolution, frame-rate is up in the air. "I'm not quoting a framerate as we're still optimising the game," Amos said. "Even today, even this close to final, we still have teams actively squeezing out everything we can to generate the best experience possible! We will happily talk more about our final end results in January once we're totally done."

As for multiplayer, Crystal Dynamics has rewritten the back-end architecture for Definitive Edition, so lag should be reduced.

There's no word on a PC release of Definitive Edition, however. "Today we are only talking about Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on PS4 and Xbox One," Amos said.

"It's our time to celebrate this version and its arrival to market come January. If a future platform comes along or is demanded by the fans, we are also open to exploring opportunities where we can deliver a great Tomb Raider experience if it makes sense for everyone.

"We are very happy with the PC version we released and felt these new additions and changes were something custom just for next-gen consoles at the moment."

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