I recently bought (now completed) Rise Of The Tomb Raider and have been enjoying the heck out of it. It is probably in my top three of Tomb Raider games (No. 1 is Anniversary and No. 2 is TR1). I’ve played the entire series from when I was very young and it has been a very long time since one of them has gripped me this well. Crystal Dynamics really outdid themselves on this one.
There have been rumours circulating about the reveal of the next game in series, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, but it is yet to greet the waiting group of gamers. So, with this lull in new TR news I thought I would create a list of things I’d like to see in the next game or at least later on in the series. Let’s start!
- A more mature Lara
Crystal Dynamics obviously want to stick with their new version of Lara and while I like her new style I would say move the series a few years into the future. RotTR was a direct sequel to 2013, therefore Lara was still in that unsure-of-herself mode that thread through the story (highlighted perfectly by a monologue sequence at the first base camp (3:14) and at the Remnant bazaar (1:31)). Moving the story into the future allows Lara to grow as a character. She won’t be over the trauma of Yamatai because that’s not how trauma works, but her time in between Rise and Shadow would have been spent dealing with it by flinging herself from tomb to tomb and having a pretty kick-ass time of it all.
There was a moment in Rise that felt it was moving in this direction. In the Soviet Installation Lara finds a half full hip flask and says with a hint of a chuckle, “I may need this before I’m done here”. This is reinforced later when she says, “Maybe you [herself] need a nightcap!” (8:16). The idea of Lara swigging spirits makes me laugh. I don’t mean change her into Max Payne, but those little light-hearted moments are great.
Back to the main part of the argument, an older, more playful, but realistic Lara would probably quell the argument of “Real Lara” as well, because she’ll be New Lara with a little of Old Lara in the mix.
Classic Lara isn’t coming back. You can’t just put a woman in shorts and give her holsters and pretend it is 1996 again; the market has changed and a return to Classic Lara would feel more like a joke (*cough* Duke Nukem *cough*). It would probably also fuel fire to those who used to find Lara to be a trashy male fantasy, “Look, she went from a realistic woman back to just a set of fetishes,” and I don’t think anyone wants to go back to those times.
One thing I hope does get cut with a more mature Lara is the swearing. This might just be a personal thing, but for me it really doesn’t suit Lara. Not because she’s too posh to swear, but it just sounds really out of place. Especially when she uses incredibly female-attributed curse words. I’m fine with her using the low-tier swear words like “b*stard” or “sh*t”, but when she’s flinging “c*nt” at one of the only other prominent female characters in the game…it physically made me cringe and shudder.
- No more parents
This is one thing I think the entire community is onboard with. Crystal, please ditch the parents influence. It is done, it is played, oh by the sweetness of Winston has it been played. Jacob (one of the major players in Rise) even says to Lara, “You can’t fill the emptiness inside you, Lara. You can only set it free.” (1:46:05). Rise had the nice parallels of Jacob and his daughter Sofia as well as the reveal of machinations within the Croft family. The flashbacks worked well and the game ended with Lara finally being at peace with her father’s legacy. So, where do we go from there?
In regards to motivation, Lara can be collecting relics and excavating dig-sites as an actual archaeologist (you know, the thing that she got a degree in), which was played with slightly in the second level of Legend, set at an abandoned dig-site. If Lara is an archaeologist I want to see some of those skills in gameplay like with the murals in Rise or the wall rubbings in Anniversary on the Wii. Especially now with Assassin’s Creed Origins having a teaching mode, Tomb Raider looks like its purpose built for that.
Let’s face it, combat has never been this series’ strong point, no matter how hard the reboot tried to make its combat varied. Fans who want to see Lara’s dual pistols, I don’t think they’ll be coming back (AoD didn’t have them unless you hacked it). Lara’s bow is her new default weapon and it is going to stay that way. I actually really like her bow more than her other weapons, is anyone else with me? (Although I do like the novelty of Lara running around with an AK47).
But my main argument on combat is enemies. I would say dramatically decrease the human enemy count. This is one massive problem I have with Classic TR that has bled over into Crystal’s work, the overabundance of human enemies. Wild animals fit in more with the globe-trotting, abandoned-to-nature places that Lara visits. Rise has moved over into the animals, with giant bears (one in the Geothermal Valley actually made me jump!) as well as wolves and wild cats dotted throughout, so it is getting there. And if animal hunting is staying, maybe have some reactionary animals (so if you attack a deer that has antlers he’ll charge you rather than run off).
Another element of Classic TR combat that personally I don’t find fits well in reboot TR are the supernatural enemies; dinosaurs, dragons, mutants, that kind of thing. We had The Oni in 2013 and the Deathless Ones in Rise, but to me they felt at odds with the world Lara was in. I know it sounds odd to complain about realism in games about evil Sun Queens and immortality, but with the new plotline, jamming undead warriors in to what up until then had been a realistic survivor storyline would be like splicing in Scooby Doo into the plot of The Grey. I guess what I want is a plausible reason for why they are there and not just to spice up gameplay.
Rise‘s world was three times bigger than 2013, but feels more streamlined, which I love. While it was fun now and again to do the full trek across Yamatai, in the end I usually used the skip destination option, but Rise has reinvigorated my love of exploring levels. It is a nice balance of open-world and linearity, something which both Classic and LAU Tomb Raider played with to varying successes.
I also do like the cohesion of Rise rather than the jarring location dissonance in 2013 so keep this aspect. Places that are naturally diverse; India, the ‘Stans, Central America (where Shadow is reportedly set) would work. Africa has hardly been tapped in TR; there are fifty-four countries in the continent with so much diversity in landscapes, let’s see some of that. I also liked the short stop in Syria so openings in the same vein would be cool. Idea for a TR plot: Alexander the Great. His empire reached from Greece to Egypt to the edges of India. That’s coastline, mountains, deserts, ancient ruins, all that stuff is TR‘s bread and butter.
I felt 2013‘s puzzles were few and far between, but they feature heavily in Rise and are really well designed. These are actual brain-teasers involving both platforming and physics, making me feel clever once I’ve deduced it. Other TR games have stumped me due to obtuse game design (how were we meant to know to shoot the fusebox on Sophia Leigh’s roof in The City level in TR3 (3:32)? I don’t know because interactive level design was hardly a thing in classic Tomb Raider). Rise‘s puzzles feel organic and fit the locations.
I don’t get the anger over “optional” tombs. Maybe change the name; “Hidden” Tomb? “Secret” Tomb (complete with “A-ha” secret chime)? Keep those, that stuff is gold. I will say if they are hidden, give us a hidden clue path. Similar to Red Dead Redemption or Sid Meier’s Pirates!, have Lara find a map (or part of one) that has drawings of where secret treasure is located. Have drawings of recognisable landmarks in the game give us a vague clue and get us to figure it out, then we’ll feel just like proper tomb raiders rather than the treasure just being another item on the map.
- General Ideas
I’m just going to fire these off in list form because they are just things I want to see and aren’t big enough for a full section on their own.
I love the return of flares/glow sticks. Two things though; 1. Let us decide when to light up a flare (because that would be pretty cool) and 2. Let us hold up the flare and not just whenever Lara feels like it. Especially with the day/night cycle in Rise, I would have liked a little extra light when the climbable ledges are shrouded in darkness. You could even map it to 2013’s torch button.
Underwater levels. Love that swimming came back in Rise. Underwater levels are personal favourites of mine because of all the cool things hidden under the sea. But have something a bit more tangible than the screen going dark around the edges showing that Lara is drowning.
Temperature Meters. In Rise Lara repeatedly jumps into Siberian rivers and says “It’s so cold!”, but then there is no lasting damage to her. Both TR3 and Legend had the idea that Lara can’t swim for very long in sub-zero temperatures. This would be a cool thing to focus on again and heighten that survivor aspect.
Croft Manor. It would be nice to see the place again once Lara has fully moved back in. It also brings back Winston (who is the second most important character in the entire TR canon). It seems Jonah is also going to be a recurring character so he can be a fixture of the manor. Lara still has Sam’s picture on her wall in Rise so if the designers want to add her in again she can be (I’ve written more about that subject here). Having someone back at Croft Manor, even if it is just optional dialogue, would at least give it a little bit of life to the set, rather than just an empty house.
So, those are my thoughts about what I would like to see in a new Tomb Raider game. Shadow will be coming out soon enough to satiate or enrage fans, no matter what it does.
If you liked any of my ideas then give this post a share or if you have ideas yourself, stick them in the comments.
Banner Photo Source: geekadelphia.com
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