Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the next game in the Tomb Raider series, is currently scheduled to drop September 14th 2018, and I for one am looking forward to the next instalment of Lara Croft’s Terrible No Good Very Bad Day.
Given that it’s a Tomb Raider game, we can safely assume that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is gonna give us Lara Croft on an adventure to find some ancient mystical artefact and getting into trouble along the way. The trailer has offered us a few clues as to the setting of this adventure, but many of the details have yet to be revealed.
That can mean only one thing: it’s time for some rampant speculation! Here are six things I’m hoping we get to see come release day.
1. Lara’s Dual Pistols
I’m gonna start out with something I already know I’m not gonna get.
Director Dan Bisson has already confirmed that we won’t be seeing Lara dual wielding pistols in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and honestly I’m kind of disappointed by it.
The first game in this trilogy had that glorious moment at the end where Lara picks up that second pistol and wins the day. For me that moment tied the new game in with the franchise as whole and was a nice moment for long time fans.
So I was kind of confused when Lara set out to find the lost city of Kitezh in Rise of the Tomb Raider without her trusty pistols. In the first game, it made perfect sense that she had to rely on improvised and looted weapons, since it was about survival as much as raiding any tombs. But the lack of them in subsequent games just feels odd.
Bisson has said that it’s the bow’s turn to shine, and I get that, but surely there’s a way to satisfy both agendas? Include the pistols but make ammo limited to force the player to think about each shot and make them rely on the bow perhaps. Something in the mechanics of the game that means we’d get the trusty dual pistols and the bow has its time to shine.
No? Fine, but I’m gonna be a little grumpy about it. And play Shadow of the Tomb Raider anyway.
2. More realism with injuries
The first game in the trilogy opens with Lara taking a pretty big fall directly onto some kind of spike, which impales her through the kidney.
I mean, I’m all for giving game protagonists challenges and limitations, that’s part of what makes them fun to play. But getting impaled through the stomach? That’s not an injury you can shrug off with a little antiseptic and a good night’s sleep.
Which, given where Lara is at that point in the game, she didn’t even get. Outside, no blanket, howling winds; not super great for sleep quality I’m guessing.
That initial injury bothered me throughout the game. Every time Lara pulled off another incredible feat of athleticism it would annoy me. Like, most people can’t do that kind of thing with both kidneys intact.
The simple fact is that Lara should probably have bled to death in that first cave. And if she managed to survive the blood loss, the infection would certainly have ended her because at several points in the game she ends up wading neck high in what looks like raw sewage. Septicaemia should probably have set in about ten minutes after she first got her bow, to be honest.
Maybe it’s just me, but that first injury and the way Lara shrugged it off broke the immersion more than the most unlikely of the mystical aspects.
So in Shadow of the Tomb Raider I really hope we see a slightly more realistic approach to the injuries Lara sustains. It doesn’t have to be too realistic, but if we could avoid definitely fatal injuries five minutes after the intro, that’d be grand.
3. Less focus on death scenes
One of the things I’ve disliked about this incarnation of the franchise is the sometimes creepy focus on the death scenes.
Whether it’s a close up shot of Lara cracking her head open after a fall, or her getting impaled or crushed under a rock, I’ve always found the games’ focus on these death scenes to be unsettling. In a game where Lara is a competent and capable protagonist, why have the developers spent so much time animating and rendering such detailed demises for her?
There is no answer to that question that won’t either annoy me or creep me out.
The grossest example of this weird fixation with Lara’s death comes early in Tomb Raider. When Lara is trying to escape Matthias’ cult after they capture the rest of the group, she’s dragged out of her hiding place by a guy with meaty hands. A quick time event follows and if you fail, you get to witness him choke the life out of Lara while the screen fades to grey. It’s all a bit too perversely sexual for my liking, and breaks the immersion for me far more than Lara’s impaled kidney does.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I’d really like to see less of this. Preferably none at all.
Generic death scenes like every other game does are perfectly fine, thank you. I don’t need to see or hear any more detail than that.
4. Another great story
For me, the real strength of the current crop of Tomb Raider games is the robustness of the storytelling.
2013’s Tomb Raider was a story of survival and growing into yourself and an awakening to a more spiritual or supernatural aspects of the world. And in Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara goes searching for a lost city and a source of immortality while making a new enemy and learning a few things about her father’s death she probably could have lived without.
I’m expecting the same calibre of storytelling from the upcoming game.
From the trailer we know that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is going to take place in a Central American jungle, which at the very least will give players a new environment to explore. I’m imagining taking out Trinity soldiers by leaping from the trees like it’s Assassin’s Creed 3 and trying not to cackle with glee.
The trailer also makes it clear that some kind of remnant of an ancient Central American civilization is involved, probably the Maya, judging by the step pyramids and the human sacrifice. There’s a rich history there, and there are a lot of ways the game could take this. If nothing else, looting Mayan ruins promises to be excellent fun.
One other thing I noticed from the trailer is that the tone of this game appears to be quite dark. The voice over references sacrifice, and questions who Lara is, or might become. When you wrap all that up with the setting and the prospect of going head to head with Trinity again, the story this game could tell promises to be quite exciting.
I look forward to seeing where the developers choose to go with it.
5. A big damn showdown with Trinity
This one is pretty much guaranteed, as the ending to Rise of the Tomb Raider heavily implied that Lara and Trinity weren’t done yet. What we don’t know yet is what that showdown might be like.
Exactly what might happen between Lara and Trinity in Shadow of the Tomb Raider depends entirely on what plans for future games Square Enix has. This game might not give us their final battle, but then again, it might.
Whatever lies in store for future games, I want to see some kind of escalation of the war between Lara and Trinity. They killed her father, she foiled their plans for immortality. Now it’s time for Trinity to hit back, and hit back hard. This should be the Empire Strikes Back of Tomb Raider games as it were.
And if nothing else, Shadow of the Tomb Raider should see Lara and Trinity racing towards the same goal once more. I’m just hoping for a few fireworks along the way.
6. Resolution for her father’s death
Lara’s father has been a looming presence in this trilogy, even though he died before it even started. In the first game, it’s Lara’s desire to step out from under her father’s shadow and start making her own legend that takes her to Yamatai in search of Queen Himiko.
In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara is following in her father’s footsteps trying to complete his quest to find the lost city of Kitezh and finding more about the circumstances of his death along the way.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider I want to see some sort of resolution regarding her father’s death, whether that be Lara coming to terms with her grief or exacting revenge on Trinity for killing him, or both.
Although, there is an alternative and potentially interesting twist that I would love to see as well. What if it turns out that Croft senior isn’t really dead and has been working for Trinity all along?
Imagine for a second that when Lara finally comes face to face with the head of Trinity it turns out that it’s her dear old dad. I don’t think that it will actually happen, but it would make for a pretty awesome story, and it would be thematically appropriate for the trilogy.
Whatever happens, I want Lara to get some kind of closure for her father’s death. She deserves it after everything she’s been through.
At this stage of the game we don’t really know what to expect from the next instalment of Lara’s adventures. We’ve got a few months of heavy speculation and teaser trailers before we get our answers. I just hope that come September 14th at least some of what I want to see comes true. I suppose I’ll just have to wait along with everyone else.
What do you want to see from Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Does my idea about Lord Croft have any merit at all? Let us know down in the comments.