When Crystal Dynamics first announced their intention to develop a triple-A reboot of the iconic Tomb Raider franchise, reactions were understandably mixed. Gamers had enjoyed the team’s top-down shooter co-op shooter, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light but the digital title didn’t necessarily invite confidence that the studio would be able to produce a blockbuster action-adventure experience on-par with similar titles (Uncharted 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, etc) – not to mention one that also adds backstory for one of gaming’s most enduring icons.

Yet, when the game finally released in February 2013, critics and gamers alike agreed that, despite some heavy-handed narrative elements, Tomb Raider offers an exciting take on the Lara Croft character and, surprisingly, delivers crisp and satisfying combat mechanics (read our Tomb Raider review). As a result, many players tore-through the single-player campaign and, with little interest in the multiplayer component, are eager for more solo Tomb Raider content. Unfortunately, Crystal Dynamics has officially confirmed that there are “no plans” for single-player Tomb Raider DLC – and that any forthcoming add-ons will be multiplayer-focused.

Shortly after Tomb Raider‘s release, the studio announced their first DLC expansion – the “Caves and Cliffs” pack – a five dollar add-on that opened up three new multiplayer arenas. At the time, we speculated, given the narrative-focus of the game, that Crystal Dynamics was not likely to develop any post-release story missions – speculation that was turned into fact when Tomb Raider director Noah Hughes and global brand director Karl Stewart answered questions in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session:

Hughes: “Currently there are no plans regarding single-player DLC. Now that Lara is more experienced, we are excited to take her on new adventures that challenge her new strength and confidence. It is important that even as Lara grows as a character, so do the challenges she must face.”

Stewart: “There are currently no plans in place for any single-player expansions. All of our DLC is based around the multiplayer experience for now.”

Tomb Raider Reviews Navigation Exploration

As mentioned, the Tomb Raider reboot was designed from the ground-up to detail the circumstances that led Lara Croft to become one of the most capable treasure-hunters on the planet – a point that Hughes highlights in his comment – so it’s understandable that the team didn’t want to throw-in random DLC side missions that would distract from an otherwise straightforward storyline. The game features epic set-pieces and a very linear point A to B to C narrative arc – and it’s hard to imagine that any story-based DLC would be able to match the core title experience without undercutting the carefully crafted plot and action pacing.

Still, given the tight combat controls, diversified enemy selection, and massive environments, Tomb Raider could have easily included a post-game horde-mode for single player and multiplayer challenges – similar to the “Mercenaries Mode” in Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 and 5. As it is, there’s not much to do but hunt down collectibles once a player has completed the story mission – with no “Chapter Select” option or “New Game +” – all that’s left is to replay the campaign on a higher difficulty.

As Stewart mentions, Tomb Raider does include a multiplayer component but the mode has seen near-universal criticism from reviewers and many players. The multiplayer is a harmless (albeit thin) bonus feature but certain game modes are, weeks after release, still extremely unbalanced – causing the game’s tight single-player combat to break under the strains of a competitive environment.

Tomb Raider Multiplayer Combat

Without question, certain gamers will enjoy the Tomb Raider multiplayer, and even purchase the post-release DLC maps, but the heavy reliance on multiplayer-only DLC content is (at the very least) a missed opportunity – considering that plenty of gamers would have been interested in co-operative and/or standalone DLC opportunities too.

Tomb Raider is available now for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Source: Crystal Dynamics [via Reddit]