Rise of the Tomb Raider is a sequel to the Tomb Raider reboot released in 2013. In Fall 2016, it arrived on the PS4 complete with a new DLC, Blood Ties, where Lara explores her old mansion searching for clues about her father and mother. While the expansion is playable on every platform, the PS4 version also includes support for the PSVR. As with other PSVR bonus levels, these experiences aren’t going to be the main selling point of a game. However, they are a nice way for PSVR owners to experience a small part of their game in a virtual reality mode. The Blood Ties expansion can be played in 2D or 3D, with the 3D version providing a short, immersive experience in the world of Lara Croft.
In standard and VR mode, Blood Moon is primarily a point and click adventure around the Croft Mansion. Rather than walking freely around the house in VR mode, one uses the standard PS controller to jump from location to location in view. The joystick controls targeting (determining what is activated on a button press) but the VR mode allows one to look all around in 3D. At any given point I could look every direction and also lean my head around or walk a short distance to give a true feeling of VR where I could learn over and around objects to see what was there.
If I strayed too far out of sight of the PSVR cameras, a Matrix-like grid would appear in the virtual world to warn me of the limits of my movement. Rather than a distraction, I found this feature to be comforting as I could easily avoid any clipping problems (from going out of tracking) which are far more likely to pull me out of the experience. In addition, I actually preferred the “jump to location” aspect of the controls. I’m still a little sensitive to motion sickness using the VR headset and “hopping” from location to location gave me no problems unlike some other games where “walking around” can put me off my feed.
The “game” of the level is pretty tame. Clicking on the right objects (clickable objects can be located using a button feature found in the main game) will open up bits of Lara’s back story, particularly her relationship to her father when she was little with a little drama added as Lara tries to establish ownership of the mansion over her uncle’s schemes. The stories are revealed as voice-overs as objects are found, sometimes activated only after Lara “examines” an object by rotating it around in 3D.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Blood Moon level of the game in VR space. The three dimensional effect really helped create a nice dark, creepy mood of exploring through the old mansion. Even though I couldn’t “walk around”, every location let me lean around and take a step of two, creating a nice feeling of “being there” while the “warning grid” kept me within my movement limits without disconcerting clipping. There isn’t much to challenge a player in terms of jumping or shooting but fans of the game’s story will enjoy learning more of Lara’s (and her father’s) backstory.