E3 2018: Hands-on – Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Crystal Dynamics brought Lara back from the dead after the very successful reboot and more recent Rise of the Tomb Raider. Her adventures have taken her through incredibly tough situations and adventures, but she’s always managed to overcome her own demons. Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn’t going to change the recipe all that much; instead it’s just stepping out of the shadows to provide players with one more reason to play as our favourite heroine.

In a presentation, we were told that Lara was heading to Latin America and that she was going to discovered entire towns that humanity never knew existed. This, of course, doesn’t mean it exists in the real world, but in Lara’s world, it’s sheltered from the outside world. Lara, at this point in the game, has been accepted by its inhabitants and they’ve clothed her in their native outfit. It’s a beautiful jungle-like setting that has greenery all around her and with waterfalls in the distance. It’s a happy place with kids laughing and playing in the background and we’re told that once the final game launches that we’ll be able to hear the people talking in their own language, instead of English, to drive home that you are far away from society.

New features such as side missions and a marketplace (using gold as a currency) expand the series, but the real star of the show still remains the various tombs and crypts. Unfortunately, we did not get too much more information on these particular features, but we’re told that the crypts, in particular, are much more challenging than we’ve seen in the past. Lara is also going to swim much more than she ever has an will have to contend with other living beings while in the water, like eels for example. Finding hidden secrets can now also be something that takes place under the water and will have Lara feeling claustrophobic when dealing with a lack of air and tight spaces. What he is really saying is that Lara is just going to be one big stress ball surrounded by trouble from all angles.

I did at least get to play the game. This particular section had nothing to do with the presentation that we saw. Instead, it placed Lara in a Tomb to deal with puzzles and general platforming scenarios. Considering that Uncharted stole Lara’s concept of using a Pick Axe to climb walls, the folks over at Eidos Montreal have included the ability to rappel up and down a rope and swing to out-of-reach reach areas. Something tells me that they’re now even. Joshua is still by her side and aids her on the radio as she takes on goons with her improved stealth mechanics. Lara can still sneak up on foes and down them with a mere press of the Y button, but for the first time she can now also go all ‘stealthy Rambo’ by sliding up against a wall of mud or ferns to remain unseen to set up a surprise stealth attack.

Gunplay is much the same and you’ll be picking up weapons and ammunition from enemies you’ve laid waste to. Towards the end of the demo, you get to meet the big bad guy (no idea what his name is) and abruptly leaves her to face mother nature as she has never done before. Lara hears the crackling sounds of trees breaking when the next thing she is surrounded by a flood of water. It seems like it could be a Tsunami that has caused complete devastation and it’s here where the demo stops.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn’t here to make huge strides. It’s just giving fans of the series more of the same, and that is definitely not a bad thing.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on 14 September 2018.

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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