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Thread: Valenka Reviews 'Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch' (Minor Spoilers)

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    Post Valenka Reviews 'Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch' (Minor Spoilers)

    Warning: this review may contain minor spoilers from the beginning of the expansion. Please read with caution.

    Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch
    Review

    Official Game Description: Deep in the wilds of Siberia lies a forest that no man will enter, where a Soviet expedition vanished without a trace. Lara enters the Wicked Vale in search of a missing man, but she finds a nightmare that defies explanation. Is the witch, Baba Yaga, haunting the forest? Or is there more to the myth? Featuring three hours of new gameplay, Lara will face new adversaries, explore a new tomb, solve a decades old mystery, and face off against an ancient evil. Includes a new outfit, and a new bow.

    The second expansion to Rise of the Tomb Raider, following Endurance Mode, has launched today and it sends us on another adventure, where Lara investigates talk of a malevolent witch straight out of Russian folktales. Lara's journey begins upon returning to the Soviet Installation base in Siberia, where her radio intercepts chatter from Trinity mercenaries in 'Bravo Team' as they attempt to track down a villager from the Geothermal Valley. It is then that Lara meets Nadia, a young woman whose grandfather has set out on a mission to kill Baba Yaga in an attempt to avenge his wife's murder at the hands of the witch. Lara pledges to help Nadia find her grandfather and kill the wicked witch once and for all.

    Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch adds a unique experience to Rise of the Tomb Raider as it delivers eerie, disturbing imagery to the table--something fans have been asking for since the changes made to the 2013 reboot, with the 'Ascension' concept art and alpha development footage, where Lara would have initially squared off with demons and other malevolent entities. The expansion was advertised to add three hours of brand new gameplay and I can tell you right off the bat that that is simply not true. In the time it took me to finish Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch, I'd explored the entirety of the new hidden vale, found all of the new secrets and documents and not even an hour had passed before I reached the finale, with the total completion time clocking in at just over an hour.

    It does add a unique twist and really inspires thought and conversation throughout, leaving players wondering if Baba Yaga really exists. It dives into Lara's fears and highlights that Lara is still haunted by a traumatic childhood event...



    ...and does so in a really fascinating way.

    I'm not really disappointed with the expansion--I found it to be utterly enjoyable and rather well done--but I'm rather perturbed by the overall misappropriation of the content. I don't want to start accusing false advertisement, but I'd like to see a playthrough that actually takes three hours or more to complete it, that doesn't involve moving at a snail's pace for the hell of it and needlessly backtracking. It does contain a tricky puzzle at the midway point that took me about ten or fifteen minutes to actually figure out and accomplish, which was one part interesting and one part frustrating, so you can shave a few minutes off of my overall completion time, if you'd like.

    Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch certainly isn't as lackluster as a lot of game expansions or story add-ons these days, but it does leave a lot to be desired with an anticlimactic ending and a rather...blatant plot twist. It could have easily been a longer experience, further diving into the myth of Baba Yaga, exploring the history and folklore...basically tastefully dragging it out to allow for more content. I feel as though it should have been spread generously and was instead just plopped into the game without much thinking involved. It is also a little ironic if it is played after already completing Rise of the Tomb Raider; Lara's skepticism about a myth come true is terribly ironic coming from the woman who witnessed an immortal soul of a long dead queen on the island of Yamatai and more recently, uncovering the secret to immortality in the very location that the Baba Yaga experience takes place.

    Overall, I did enjoy the experience and since I already had the season pass, it wasn't really money wasted. Without the season pass, the expansion is priced at USD$10 and believe me when I tell you to wait for an Xbox Store sale. Unless the short length doesn't bother you, then go for it; you get a pretty cool outfit and weapon upon completion if that means anything to you. Personally, as much as I love Tomb Raider, it doesn't really inspire much hope for the next expansion, Cold Darkness Awakened, and I have definitely reconsidered my stance on season passes altogether. I usually never get them unless it's for a game I know I'll love, like Tomb Raider, The Witcher, Fallout, etc. but going forward, I most likely will never purchase another season pass until long after the content has been released, so that I may properly analyze it to determine whether or not it's actually worth the money. It's sad to say that about a franchise I love so much, but the gaming industry is depreciating at a rapid pace and Tomb Raider has fallen victim.

    Overall Score: 6/10

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    Good read. Am now waiting until the PS4 edition before I consider this expansion.
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    I spent at least 2 to 2/12 hours playing through this level. I'm guessing that you didn't find all the documents and other collectables after the boss fight? Did you complete the challenge? The is also the Score Attack levels as well as obtaining any other achievements connected with the DLC. Three hours of gameplay doesn't just mean playing the level straight.

    I really enjoyed it. Ok the twist was given away too early, but I liked the story and the gameplay. The puzzles were good (it seems you only found the one puzzle) and I really enjoyed the boss fight. All in all a great expansion. but be under no illusion, its more of the same. There is nothing here gameplay-wise you haven't seen before, but it is done well IMO. I have the Season Pass so I didn't have to buy it separately, so the question is if it is worth the money as a standalone. I don't have much to compare it to TBH because I haven't downloaded similar DLC to this for a long time. My gut feeling is that £7.99 is maybe a little too much. Feels more like 5 quid as a single player level, but then if you are into the Expedition modes you get the extra cards and levels for that so that has a value too. Should you buy it? If you enjoyed the main game as much as I did then you will enjoy this too. If you are looking for a massive expansion to the single player game then this is not it but IMO worth getting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tecstar70 View Post
    I spent at least 2 to 2/12 hours playing through this level. I'm guessing that you didn't find all the documents and other collectables after the boss fight? Did you complete the challenge? The is also the Score Attack levels as well as obtaining any other achievements connected with the DLC. Three hours of gameplay doesn't just mean playing the level straight.
    I'm well aware that the given duration doesn't mean just playing the expansion straight through. Hidden Vale is at 100% completion and it didn't take me anywhere close to three hours to do it--I hunted for the collectibles during my playthrough, not after, except for two that I missed. I don't count Score Attack because that feature was already available before the Baba Yaga add-on; arcade-style, replayable things like that should not be counted as the overall estimated time to complete the expansion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tecstar70 View Post
    I really enjoyed it. Ok the twist was given away too early, but I liked the story and the gameplay.
    I don't think it was given away too early. It was given away during the boss fight, but Helen Keller could have seen that coming six miles away. As soon as Nadia started telling Lara the story about her grandmother and Lara discovered that the pollen causes hallucinations, my immediate thought was:



    Lo and behold!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tecstar70 View Post
    I have the Season Pass so I didn't have to buy it separately, so the question is if it is worth the money as a standalone. I don't have much to compare it to TBH because I haven't downloaded similar DLC to this for a long time. My gut feeling is that £7.99 is maybe a little too much. Feels more like 5 quid as a single player level, but then if you are into the Expedition modes you get the extra cards and levels for that so that has a value too. Should you buy it? If you enjoyed the main game as much as I did then you will enjoy this too. If you are looking for a massive expansion to the single player game then this is not it but IMO worth getting.
    Yeah, I have the season pass as well and even that is a regret I hold. Honestly, the only thing that's been released so far that I actually find worth the price is Endurance Mode, and I would have rather purchased that separately and skipped over the rest of the post-launch content. Cold Darkness Awakened is apparently more arcade-style gameplay that I could live my entire life without experiencing, which just further solidifies the fact that I shouldn't have wasted my money on the season pass. I thought, "Hey! It's Tomb Raider; you love Tomb Raider. It'll totally be worth it." Evidently, regardless of how much I love the franchise, I still have a solid sense of logic and reasoning to identify when I've wasted money. Even as a standalone, $10 is too much. I wouldn't even pay $10 for the Porsche Expansion for Forza Horizon 2. I waited for it to go on sale and a few months later, I nabbed it for $5. Either I'm a cheap bastard or I really analyze whether or not something is worth its asking price. Actually, now that I say it out loud, both statements are true.

    Now, I wouldn't say that I was expecting a massive expansion, but I was expecting something of significantly higher quality, not only in terms of length, but story-telling and depth. Not once did they even dig into the legend of Baba Yaga; all they did was mention and allude. I can guarantee that a good percentage of players are probably Googling 'Baba Yaga' as we speak. Furthermore, even though I wasn't expecting a massive expansion, let's really have a look at Baba Yaga in comparison to another game expansion of the same price:

    Baba Yaga: Temple of the Witch - $10

    The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone - $10

    Obviously, CD Projekt Red are renowned for delivering unparalleled quality in their products and even their post-launch DLC. It's kind of their calling-card. However, that does not excuse other game developers from following in CDPR's footsteps; on the contrary, it should inspire other developers to do the same. Even with Skyrim's DLC, Dawnguard, it was priced at $20 at launch and still contained twice, if not three times as much content as Baba Yaga. However, not all the shame goes to Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics; Baba Yaga is nothing compared to the DLC for Batman Arkham Knight's season pass fiasco. Regardless, the lack of quality and quantity is inexcusable in 2016.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valenka View Post
    I'm well aware that the given duration doesn't mean just playing the expansion straight through. Hidden Vale is at 100% completion and it didn't take me anywhere close to three hours to do it--I hunted for the collectibles during my playthrough, not after, except for two that I missed. I don't count Score Attack because that feature was already available before the Baba Yaga add-on; arcade-style, replayable things like that should not be counted as the overall estimated time to complete the expansion.
    But Score attack has to be counted. Its new levels to master and get gold on. That's gameplay, hence the claim "3 hours of gameplay." If you haven't got all the achievements, them going after them is also gameplay.
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  6. #6
    I loved the story of Baba Yaga DLC. BUT it was too short. I was hoping we'll get at least 6h of gameplay, not ~2.
    I wouldn't say buying SP was a bad idea or a waste of money because Endurance Mode is something I really like, but I do hope Cold Darkness Awakened will be longer than Baba Yaga.

    PS: Valenka - I heard TW3: Blood and Wine map will be huge. They compared it to the one with Nilfgaard and Velen
    Last edited by dayoum; 29th Jan 2016 at 14:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tecstar70 View Post
    But Score attack has to be counted. Its new levels to master and get gold on. That's gameplay, hence the claim "3 hours of gameplay." If you haven't got all the achievements, them going after them is also gameplay.
    Well, I don't count it and I don't plan to split hairs about it all evening.

    Quote Originally Posted by dayoum View Post
    PS: Valenka - I heard TW3: Blood and Wine map will be huge. They compared it to the one with Nilfgaard and Velen
    I'm looking forward to it. I just finished Hearts of Stone and that is a $10 expansion that is not only well-worth its asking price, but I would have happily paid $20 for it if that were its price tag. The Witcher 3 and the expansion pass were the best purchases I'd made in 2015, aside from Until Dawn of course.

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    Thread Hijack! Massive SPOILERS!

    Sorry Valenka, but instead of starting a new thread,I thought I'd write my own review here.

    So, I’d like to express a few thoughts on Baba Yaga.

    I played the DLC in two parts, so the second half is a little fresher in my mind, having completed it tonight. I think I’ll break this down into pros, cons and overall impressions rather than just a block of text review.

    Pros:

    Atmosphere/supernatural - I really enjoyed the supernatural element in the beginning. In fact, it could have been longer, imo. The atmosphere was just amazing, on the right side of eerie and the ‘demon wolves’ were genuinely creepy. Despite the linear path, I genuinely felt disoriented and turned the wrong way a couple of times. This may not be getting lost exactly, but it gave emphasis to the feeling of uncertainty and Lara’s confusion.

    Even though we know(easily guess?) it’s a
    Even though Baba Yaga was released after the Xbox release, your mission starts in the Soviet Installation, so technically, you can play it before Lara learns the truth as revealed at the end of the main game.

    *

    The story - I liked the story behind
    I’ve yet to read all of the documents, so there are a few things I’m unsure about,


    Puzzles – Simple, yet still thought provoking to keep you occupied for a decent time. My only concern is the over use of rope arrows. CD could do with trying something else once in a while.

    Combat, actually – I never felt overwhelmed despite the cover and stealth options are gone. I liked the creepiness of the ‘new’ enemies. The mini adventure had a nice balance.



    In the middle

    Logic - It all has a logical (yet clever) explanation. I don’t see this as a con, exactly, but it would be nice if magic could just be. It makes me wonder if CD are leading to a logical explanation to both Himiko and the Divine Source eventually. It’s nice to be left wondering. Although we’re aware of the hallucinations and there’s a not too subtle ‘twist’ ending, it would have been nice for there to have been some mystery left, perhaps meaning some truth behind the myth,
    I didn’t mind this approach too much as the overall story is quite nice, so it’s not a con, imo. However, some of the story is a tad confusing.

    Going back to the Soviet Installation – I enjoyed backtracking (or fast travelling ) to
    This felt quite Classic-like to me, where you need to explore in order to find the items you need to continue. However, I would have liked maybe a different corner of the game to do it in, perhaps a new area like Endurance mode had that was still Siberia, but separate. I guess as the mission starts in the Soviet Installation, it was easier just to go back? Perhaps they could have opened up the vale a little more, I dunno.

    Cons:

    Couple of glitches, which meant I needed to restart the last checkpoint.
    1, When Lara falls in the water, she comes out and is meant to start talking to Nadia, only she didn’t
    2, the boss fight didn’t start initially, leaving me with nothing to fight.

    * It worries me that Crystal Dynamics may follow this route where everything seemingly supernatural Lara has witnessed so far from TR’13, the comics and Rise will turn out to have a logical real world explanation. I hope that CD has the artistic confidence to just leave things unexplained for some of it. Perhaps there can be a mixture of actual supernatural and things with a proper explanation in the future games. The ‘everything is linked to ‘ancient civilisation tech’ in Underworld was a sour taste. I’d like to be left to my own imagination every now and again.
    So, as you can see, not much in the way of actual cons. Those things I had a problem with, I saw something positive too.

    Overall:

    So, despite a few concerns as mentioned, I did enjoy this mini advenure, or mission.


    I've tried to keep something may be too spoilerish in spoiler tags.
    Last edited by Rai; 1st Feb 2016 at 02:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rai View Post
    Sorry Valenka, but instead of starting a new thread,I thought I'd write my own review here.
    No apologies necessary, the floor is yours!

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