Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch is the first story driven DLC pack for Rise of the Tomb Raider. The pack gives us a new area to explore, which is accessible from the Soviet installation in the main game, some new enemies, a new boss fight, and of course collectibles to be found. It adds in a supernatural element, something that was prevalent in the 2013 Tomb Raider game but missing from the sequel. The mission has Lara rescuing a girl named Nadia from enemy soldiers at the copper mine. Nadia tells Lara that her grandfather has gone into the Witch’s Vale, a place ruled over by a fearsome witch named Baba Yaga (who is indeed based on Slavic folklore), who moves about in a walking house with giant bird-like legs. Lara, naturally, agrees to help the girl and sets off for the Vale, where she is confronted with some spooky phenomenon. Lara, being the determined adventurer we know she is, doesn’t accept the supernatural goings on at face value and pushes to solve the mystery surrounding the Vale. Things end with a decent twist, though if you’re paying attention to the documents Lara finds you may figure out said twist prior to its reveal. A climactic boss battle is suitably fast paced and tense, and you’ll need to keep your wits about you as you evade enemy fire. It comes to a relatively satisfying conclusion, though it would have been nice to have had a bit more area to explore.
There isn’t much in terms of new gameplay introduced into the DLC. As in the main game, you’ll use your trusty bow to open up and access new areas, and it’s crucial in aiding to solve a puzzle late in the mission, as well as figuring into the final battle. There are two new enemy types, though they are variations of those you’ve encountered before. They do move quickly and are nicely designed, making encounters with them a bit tense. A fetch quest halfway through bogs things down a little bit, making for some backtracking through territory we’ve already experienced in the main game. The puzzle towards the end requires some thought, and some quick reflexes are needed to successfully pull it off. Sadly there isn’t a whole lot of area to explore, though you can take your time to hunt down assorted documents which flesh out the DLC’s story. The DLC adds roughly 2-3 hours to the main game, depending on how much you look around and how quick you move forward. It’s not bad for your 10 bucks, but a more extensive tomb to look through would have been nice. As with the rest of the game the new area looks fantastic, and there are some genuinely creepy scenes and one nice jump scare. The supernatural element sets it apart from the other challenge tombs in the game. In all, it’s a good addition, though it had the potential to be better. Season pass holders should be fairly pleased, and even those who buy the DLC separately should find it a worthy addition to the main game, though the potential was there for it to be something more. Still, the Witch proves to be intriguing enough to jump back into the game, and more adventures with Lara is always a good thing.
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