Shadow of the Tomb Raider will show a lighter side of Lara Croft

Shadow of the Tomb Raider 4

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be the final game of the Tomb Raider trilogy, and Lara Croft will finally become the ultimate predator and tomb raider that she is known for. The action-adventure game will be out for the PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 14th. Nerd Reactor interviews Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s lead writer Jill Murray and lead game designer Heath Smith about the story and gameplay. What can fans expect? Be prepared for a dark tale, Lara showing off her lighter side, and a lot of moves at their disposal to traverse the jungle.

Nerd Reactor: Jonah has been an important character in Lara’s life in Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, how important is the relationship between Lara and Jonah?

Jill Murray: Exploring the friendship between Lara and Jonah was really important to this game. He’s been her loyal friend through all these games. He’s someone that always has her back, but he’s also really the one person that can call her out when she’s misstepping. He helps keep her grounded. The same way that Lara is now at the height of her abilities, we also see Jonah go through an evolution. And in his own way, he’s at the height of his own abilities. Where Lara’s strength has always been in the action and fighting, we get to see that his strength is really in managing people. The way these two come together and butt heads and lock horns throughout the story, we get to see more of the tensions in their relationship, and how they deal with them. It helps you understand both characters better. It gives a more human feeling to Lara.

They need each other in different ways. He’s helping her, but there’s something about following her that brings him something. He’s not naturally an adventurer, but he needs to be near the adventure until he kind of figures out what to do next. And we get to have a sense of what Jonah’s life might have in store beyond this game.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will have a large hub world. What’s the reasoning behind the addition?

Jill Murray: It gives players the opportunity to control the pacing of the game and define their own experience. It also gives us a chance to see the lighter side. Lara’s sense of humor comes out more because she has more people to talk to. It’s a really nice, bright contrast to some of the darker aspects of the game, and it helps us reflect that balance between the things that are trying to kill you and the things that are trying to help you.

Heath Smith: The thing we always say on this one is that previously, she was looking a lot into history… dead history. This is living history. She has to learn, listen, slow down, stop and listen to people and not just barrel through and take that dagger. [Lara grabs a dagger in a scene that affects the surrounding town.] This is an opportunity for her to do that. And there are gameplay opportunities that are brand new for the franchise. For example, in Paititi and smaller hubs, there’s a full economy this time that was never in the previous game. You had a taste of it in Rise of the Tomb Raider, like a shack in the snow. And then we’ve expanded and blown that up into a giant economy where you’re trading pretty much everything you can collect. So there’s a choice in that, like what do you sacrifice or what do you keep? What do you want to keep for long-term gains, like maybe saving towards that cool outfit or cool weapon, and what do you want to spend on short-term gain?

It also helps us feature the new layers of traversal that we have in the game. We have a much stronger and deeper canopy traversal because she’s in the jungle, and then all the underwater sections. Paititi is not just what you see on the surface. There’s actually underwater caverns, and the shape of the city was specifically dreamed up to challenge her new traversal abilities. She has repelling and wall-running, which are classic Tomb Raider moves that we’re bringing back because this is the third game in the trilogy. This is the defining moment for Lara to becoming the Tomb Raider that she is meant to be. We need to complete her skillset. She needs to be the all-singing, all-dancing Tomb Raider at the end of this game.

Jill Murray: We’re not promising a musical.

[Both laughs]

Heath Smith: That was the goal of having these hubs like Paititi, to throw these challenges at Lara she hasn’t faced, like people. Previously you would find a corpse of a dead person with a map, and you would read the map and it would put little icons on your map about things that person had found. Now when you talk to a person and they say, “I hear there is a dangerous cave in the hills. You might want to go investigate that.” Again, it’s about how does she learn from living people, not just dead people.

Will there be more variations of taking out the enemies?

Heath Smith: Absolutely! It’s called “One with the Jungle,” By putting [Lara] in that environment, she has to adapt to survive, so she’s using mud as camouflage which allows her to blend in areas that are covered in mud. She has skills that she can upgrade where she can do shocking takedowns where she’s instilling fear into the enemies, and she can take down two guys at once. And there’s the rope move. She comes with a certain knowledge of the plants of the amazon, but she also learns a lot from the locals who live there. And she can use herbs to enhance her abilities.

In the previous games, you press the left bumper to heal, and now we’ve expanded that button to allow you to press any four of the face buttons along with it. Not only can you heal, you can increase your perception, see things through the environment, and slow down time when aiming to have greater focus. So what we’re saying here is that even these plants and deadly creatures that are trying to kill you can also help you and heal you. So that’s why we’re really trying to use the new jungle environment, which is the ultimate challenge for her. But if she can overcome that challenge and master it, then she can become the ultimate predator.

In the preview, the main villain believes he’s a good guy, and it makes him more interesting and adds more depth.

Jill Murray: Yeah, he’s a true antagonist in that he is in many ways her equal. He challenges her perspective and holds a mirror up to her. And like you said, he’s someone who could be or is a protagonist of his own story. And I think he’s going to give you a lot to think about.

When I was playing the preview build, I was like, “Am I bad?”

Jill Murray: He really gets in your head.

Any reason for doing living history as compared to dead history?

Jill Murray: Living history is kind of a cool way to say the present. So it’s really Lara trying to live in the present. She’s not as much motivated by the events of the past as she is in the previous games. She’s really [dealing] with her own mistakes and her own capabilities. And she has to figure out, “Okay, the past is the past. How am I going to look at the present to decide what kind of future we’re all going to have?” (Since it deals with the apocalypse.)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be available for the PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 14, 2018.

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