This upcoming sequel to the 2015 Rise of the Tomb Raider marks the third entry to the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise, but judging by the gameplay revealed so far and first impressions, Shadow of the Tomb Raider seems to plan on bringing back the franchise to the top. The footage seen promises innovative game mechanics, as well as a rewarding and immersive experience altogether.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider release date is set for 14th of September, 2018. The game appears to be in the action-adventure genre, naturally, but with such a twist that it will make the player feel more like watching a movie rather than playing it. The camera angles alone are a testament to that, as our view on the action shifts with each new frame. They say that the Devil is in the details, but all jokes aside, Eidos Montreal really plans to raise the bar with this title.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider marks the culmination of the entire Lara Croft origin story, because – this is it! This is when she becomes the Tomb Raider she was meant to be, as the stakes have never been higher. Lara is racing against Trinity to stop the Maya Apocalypse and save all of humanity.
It’s a pretty straightforward story at first glance, but after just a few moments into the trailer or the gameplay, you’ll see that it evolves into so much more, as it pulls you in and is even gruesome at times.
Lara will have to race Trinity in their pursuit for relics, which are used for making this Mayan Apocalypse happen, so she is taking the fight to them, and is a little more aggressive than usual. The fans of the franchise will notice that she is a bit rash, and even deadlier than everybody is used to.
The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice, besides the impressive camera action in what is essentially a third person view game, is the cinematic feel to the entire atmosphere. The way hints and tutorials are organized greatly adds to this, as instructional and descriptive texts will pop up all around you, at the most peculiar places.
Traditionally, the environment is your opponent in every Tomb Raider game, and it is more dangerous than ever this time around. But, Lara can also use it to her advantage, hiding in tall grass, leaping at the enemy from trees, and even finding passages through the water. Almost every moment of this game will send chills down your spine or make your blood rush, but it is probably when diving underwater that you’ll be taken over by sheer panic.
Piranhas and electric eels will try and hinder you, as you must deal with air pockets and narrow passages, which Lara can barely crawl through during the last seconds of what may very well be her last breath. The underwater exploration makes for an engaging and scary experience for the player.
The combat system is also overhauled completely, with increased challenge and mastery levels. But your opponents, the Trinity, will also bring their A game.
The combat has two main segments, the stealth and the open combat mode, similar to what was done in Batman: Arkham franchise. In previous installations of Tomb Raider, when Lara was noticed by enemies, she couldn’t get back into stealth, but this time around the developers overhauled the A.I. in a way that they will give up looking for you after a certain time. So, you really can use your environment to your advantage here, as Lara will literally become one with the jungle.
The Jaguar Woman
There is a point in the game when Lara is faced with a jaguar, really focused on it. But, while this is happening, another jaguar is sneaking up behind her and gets the jump on her. So, from then on, she (and we alongside her) learns that this is the law of the jungle. It is how the art of survival is being mastered out there, so this is a poetic moment when she becomes the Jaguar Woman she was meant to be.
Like a true predator, she will hide in the canopy, use the trees, vines, and everything around her to her advantage, getting the jump on opponents, finishing them quickly and without mercy. The new motto seems to be ‘Nature kills, and so does Lara’.
The stealth mode and the environmental aspect were completely redefined by Eidos Montreal, you can use mud to disappear for instance. Your surroundings are almost like a character in this game, and although it is often set against you, if mastered correctly, you will feel like it has become a part of you in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
She will use it to spread chaos and panic among enemies, making them confused, scared, and eventually dead.
Weapon mechanics, takedowns, and social puzzles
You can use your arrows as a means to kill, or to avert the enemy’s attention. If you fire an arrow next to an enemy, they will quickly turn toward the point of impact. There is also a crafting feature in the game, where you can, for instance, craft an arrow with a hallucinogenic compound called the Jaguar Sphere, and when you hit an enemy with it he will start seeing visions and even antagonize allies.
Also, if you are doing a stealth takedown on one enemy, and another one is close by, you can react even if he has seen the act and is panicking. You can use those few moments to take him out too, scoring a double takedown and remaining stealthed. The options and methods of killing off enemies seem to be endless, as they variate because of the environment, as well as the angle of Lara’s approach to her victim.
The social puzzles revolve around an innovative mechanic in the game, where you need to figure out who wants what, based on interaction and just talking to NPCs, and help them get it in order for them to help you. This resembles questing in some other RPGs though.
The gameplay reveal was certainly promising, and left a very positive impression on the fans, as we can’t wait for September 14th for Shadow of the Tomb Raider to be released. If this game is going to be everything that was promised, then the fans are in for one hell of a ride.