With E3 underway—and Lara Croft’s absence from the highly anticipated gaming event—there’s been a wealth of speculation and theories as to what we might expect from our favorite British archaeologist’s upcoming adventure, possibly titled Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Seven months ago, a user on Reddit snapped a shot of someone’s laptop screen as they were working on what looked like a PowerPoint presentation; nothing interesting, except for the Tomb Raider logo in the top right corner. Unfortunately, the image isn’t entirely clear and most of the information is hard to make out, but numerous people—including the uploader of the image—claims the full logo reads Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It’s a shame the rest of the presentation is illegible in the image, as I’m sure it contained some tantalizing information about the third installment in the reboot trilogy.
Now, if you were find anyone who knows me and ask them what two things am I absolutely infatuated with, the answer would be James Bond and Tomb Raider, in that order; I have Lara Croft and James Bond to thank for a phenomenal childhood—with a lot of praise to my wonderful parents as well—and ever since my initial discovery in 1996, it’s all been uphill from there. I had the pleasure of attending PAX East in Boston last year to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Tomb Raider and held the privilege of sitting in the front rows of the Tomb Raider panel as well as being included in a cosplay photoshoot afterward, all orchestrated by the lovely Meagan Marie, community manager for Crystal Dynamics. With more information about Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the horizon, here’s seven things that I would personally want in Lara’s upcoming adventure.
1. | The End of Trinity
In the original Tomb Raider reboot back in 2013, there was a light mention of Trinity, by way of GPS caches that served as hidden collectibles throughout the island of Yamatai. The name of the shadowy organization came up a few times, but didn’t lead to as much speculation as did the ending of the game. According to the information obtained from the caches, Trinity was aware of the goings on with Queen Himiko and even dispatched an operative to investigate, and upon learning of the Solarii, his new directive was to kill Mathias, but ultimately failed. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Trinity became the prominent enemy and was involved in Lara’s life before she even knew they existed. The ending to Rise of the Tomb Raider foreshadows the idea that Trinity has ominous plans for Lara and they will no doubt resurface in the third installment, perhaps even giving us the identity of the mysterious Director himself. However, as this is the final game in the trilogy, any dealings with Trinity should be wrapped up and not left with plot holes and unanswered questions. An open ending would be fine, but I don’t want the franchise to become Lara versus Trinity for its lifespan; I would appreciate variety like in the classic Tomb Raider games, where each game presented a different adventure and a different adversary.
2. | Accurate Foreshadowing and Continuity
In the ending for Tomb Raider, when Lara escapes the island of Yamatai, she is reading a journal and the journal foreshadows what she would be doing next. As we caught a glimpse of the page she was reading, a single word caught everyone’s attention: Croatoan. It was an obvious hint at Roanoke Island and the mystery of the colonists who simply disappeared without a trace. We were led to believe that Lara would investigate that unsolved mystery in her next adventure, but instead, Rise of the Tomb Raider was essentially a continuation of the events of Yamatai as she pursued the legend of the Deathless Prophet and the secret to immortality. Okay, I could deal with that disappointment, but Rise of the Tomb Raider still presented unanswered questions: what did any of that have to do with Queen Himiko? You could technically piece information together yourself, and there’s several theories, but not one official answer presented. In the end of Rise of the Tomb Raider, there’s another bit of foreshadowing regarding a man named Kennard Montez—anyone who’s read Ten Thousand Immortals should know all about him—and he does make a brief appearance during a scene in Croft Manor. Oddly enough, despite Lara having met and worked with him in Ten Thousand Immortals, when she sees him in Rise of the Tomb Raider, she doesn’t seem to know him at all. It makes me question the necessity of including him if he isn’t going to be presented properly, as someone Lara had already met and had an altercation with. The only piece of continuity involved is his affiliation with Trinity.
3. | Ditch the Bow and Arrow
As thematically relevant as it was on Yamatai and initially useful in the beginning of Rise of the Tomb Raider, having Lara’s main weapon as a bow and arrow is simply impractical now, and it needs to go. In Tomb Raider, it made sense; stranded on an island with no supplies or way to protect herself, Lara stumbled upon a dead body in the possession of a makeshift bow; I’d like to think that Lara would have eventually crafted one on her own had she not found one. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara finds herself initially in a similar predicament as her expedition took an unexpected turn. Using branches and string, she managed to craft her own makeshift bow and it served as her initial weapon until she came across firearms. However, up against the guerrilla forces of Trinity, it simply isn’t practical to bring a bow and arrow to a firefight. Naturally, it’s player’s choice and Lara does have a handgun, assault rifle, and a shotgun in her arsenal, but the bow and arrow is still considered to be her primary armament. In Lara’s next adventure, I’d like to see the bow and arrow take a respective bow out and be replaced with something more effective as a primary weapon; I wouldn’t mind seeing a compact, modern crossbow make an appearance as a sidearm of some sort. In the classic Tomb Raider games, Lara’s trademark weapons were dual-wielded handguns and it made a good amount of sense; however, I do not wish to see the bow and arrow become her new trademark, as that will grow remarkably old quickly, especially if the series is going to be continued past the planned trilogy. Full disclosure, my largest concern is simply that the bow and arrow will not be practical for any locale that isn’t a forest or jungle region, and I do not want Tomb Raider to be limited to that. I want to see Lara in other exotic locations like Egypt or China, and some industrial areas like major cities, such as London or New York, where a bow and arrow does not belong.
4. | Give Croft Manor the Stage It Deserves
In Rise of the Tomb Raider, we saw the very welcomed return of Croft Manor, in its own standalone mission. Croft Manor isn’t shown much in the main campaign, but the Blood Ties DLC allows players to explore Croft Manor generously, and it’s discovered that the manor is in disarray since the death of Lara’s father, and has not been maintained. For the sake of keeping the story canon, the Blood Ties mission takes place after the Syria expedition is finished; Lara returns to locate evidence that she is the rightful inheritor of the mansion, despite the protests of her uncle and Croft Estate executor, Atlas DeMornay. After the events of Yamatai, Atlas feels as though Lara is not responsible enough to yet earn access to her inheritance and intends to keep it from her, recommending she seek professional help. Without spoiling the goings on, Atlas threatens Lara on a technicality in her parents’ will and threatens to cut her out of her parents’ trust fund unless she permanently vacates the premises. Lara manages to find what she needs to win the battle and the Croft Estate becomes hers, including her financials as well as the manor, and Lara resolves to bring the mansion back to order. Naturally, it would depend on how much time has passed between Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but I would appreciate a renovated and fully accessible Croft Manor to be present, allowing players to explore it completely like in the previous games. As Lara now also has access to the wealth her parents left behind, that brings us to my next point.
5. | Use Lara’s Wealth
It’s no secret that Lara Croft is exorbitantly wealthy. Have you seen her home? As a matter of fact, the original biography for Croft Manor in the Core Design days implied that Lara owned more than one. Since the beginning, Lara never once flaunted her wealth; she even once told an adversary, Pierre DuPont, that there’s more to life than money. Despite her standpoint on the topic, Lara has no qualms about giving herself access to high-end equipment to aid in her adventures. I’d like to see the return of that in the next adventure; allow Lara to use her finances to be better equipped for the field. Give her modern equipment, her own custom weaponry, and end the need to scavenge for things in the wild. I’m not saying to remove the scavenging and crafting mechanic, as I think it works really well, especially for crafting on-the-go equipment like healing items and makeshift items like Molotov cocktails and miniature explosives, for instance. I think that the dependency, however, on scavenging materials for weapons has reached its end. With the amount of money that Lara has, there’s no logical reason as to why she can’t go into an expedition prepared, as she did during her Syria expedition and in the beginning of her Siberian one in Rise of the Tomb Raider.
6. | Hub and Locale Variety
While Rise of the Tomb Raider offered some varied settings compared to its predecessor—which kept us on the island of Yamatai—it still didn’t feel all that different. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara’s expedition took her to Syria for a short period of time, which truly felt like a tomb raiding experience, and the rest of the game brought us to Siberia; at times, it truly felt like Yamatai with snow and a geothermal valley. I could never quite put my finger on it, but both locations feel remarkably identical in numerous ways, and it was really hard to immerse myself in an environment that was supposed to be different, but felt the same as before. Rise of the Tomb Raider offered larger hubs—and full of things to do—than its predecessor, but I would like more variety in locations this time. I don’t want to be stuck in the same place; I also don’t really want to be bounced around like in Tomb Raider Legend, for example. I think that segments like Syria in Rise of the Tomb Raider would serve well in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Give us four or five of those and I’ll be more than thrilled.
7. | No Silly Outfits, Give Us Throwbacks
While I appreciated the variety of attire for Lara in Rise of the Tomb Raider, I barely used 75% of them and stuck to the thematically relevant outfits available. You know the ones I speak of: the chain-mail, the wilderness warrior, Baba Yaga, etc. all of those outfits that makes Lara look like a Remnant scavenger. I wasn’t a fan of those at all, especially considering that a good number of them were identical to each other. A lot of those outfits were essentially the same with a different color scheme. What I really loved was the 20 Year Celebration edition offering us the vintage Lara Croft models to play as, from the Core Design days. I absolutely cherished that little fan service, and I would like to see it return one step further in Shadow of the Tomb Raider: modernized. I would love to see modern versions of Lara’s outfits from the original franchise games, like Tomb Raider Legend, Tomb Raider Underworld, etc. We got a modernized Antarctica outfit from Tomb Raider 3, but the rest were simply the original models. Cute and lovely, but modernized is definitely the way to go.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider has not yet been officially announced, but it’s been said that information regarding Lara’s next adventure will be highlighted later in the year. Stay tuned for that news when it becomes available. In the meantime, what are you hoping to see in the third installment of the trilogy? Let me know in the comments section below.