Opinion: What do we want to see in the next Tomb Raider?
Christopher Blackmore gives us the lowdown of how the Tomb Raider sequel should play out.
In 2013, an iconic video game female protagonist who raided tombs was reborn in Crystal Dynamic’s reboot of the Tomb Raider series. Lara Croft no longer began as a fully established and gun knowledgeable archaeologist and instead was thrown into the world eyes blind with nothing more than her own screams for company. The series has started in true reboot fashion allowing us to experience and control a character in development and, for those of you who have played Tomb Raider, development really is at the forefront of the adventure. Lara goes on a journey fueled with equal doses of danger, curiosity and fear of the unknown; not necessarily in that order.
The game was a satisfying entry into a series felt long forgotten about and the amount of effort and care poured into it definitely shows in great quantities. Satisfying, but not perfect by any means and some parts left much to be desired. And so arises the question from a newly discovered chest: what is it that we all want to see in the next installment? Here’s my personal list based upon what I felt was absent and needed in the first and also what I do genuinely want to see in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which was showcased during last week’s E3 conference.
Let’s have more variety of threat
Probably the biggest problem I had with the reboot was the lack of enemy variety. Seemingly every foe you come up against is a gun toting madman or an axe toting madman who you are forced to gun down. Although these enemies, being actual human beings, plays well to the overall character development of Lara, I couldn’t help but reminisce about previous Raider installments that had you face a plethora of enemy AI who were integral to the world. First of all, when looking back at Lara’s previous endeavors, the wildlife seemed to be the biggest bane of her life as you progressed through the game. Bears, tigers, bats and even vultures all were hell bent on ending your life and sending you back to your last save crystal. In the reboot, the only time nature becomes a problem is in the form of wolves that are disposed of primarily via quick time sequences. It would have been interesting to have our new and young Lara deal with threats coming from an enemy merely acting upon instinct rather than gun play. The wildlife is very prevalent in the new installment, but none of them are there to do you harm; being there mainly to serve as extra experience gain. Introducing a threat from said wildlife would greatly enhance the spontaneity of combat and force Lara to think like a survivalist in a world ungoverned by humanity.
And then there were the unnatural creatures of the Tomb Raider world which is what I was waiting for around every ancient corner, much to no avail. Remembering times when I had to decease yetis, mummies and giant, animated statues played to the merits of a time caught between reality and fiction. It is non-existent in the reboot and would be welcomed with open and armed arms in the sequel. Yes, I understand a more humane threat becomes more relatable to our protagonist and for her, but Tomb Raider is about unearthing mysteries far beyond our own conception. The odd dinosaur wouldn’t go a miss.
Can we all raid more things please?
Discovering the hidden tombs that lay dormant in the new Tomb Raider world was a breath of fresh air from the trigger heavy sequences. In fact, the sheer amount of things to find and collect were never in short supply; each coming with its own well written narration by Lara herself. After all, the game should do what it says on the tin so if Crystal Dynamics had created Tomb Raider to be about Lara and her struggles in the stock market, gamer’s would be a little confused. Having said that, the parts that did have you solving some elaborate puzzle in order to make your way to the spoils came off as a little lackluster. You would spend a good session working out what needs to be done to get to the chest, only to be gifted with the same cut-scene over and over again featuring Lara opening the said chest and awing at the same content. The puzzling parts were indeed fun and demonstrated a history had bestowed itself across the inner walls of the tomb but the reward failed to live up to the expectation. In the future, I want to see Lara discovering a different chest every time. I want to see the developers go crazy on what artifact Lara pries from a chest you have just spent potentially hours trying to get to. The satisfaction factor would sky rocket and the thirst to seek out these unique chests embedded in these narrative tombs would be at a constant. If this means sacrificing more gun fighting, then so be You know, traps would help make things more difficult for an archaeologist
Cast your mind back to old Tomb Raider. You pull down a switch and the music kicks in; you have activated something. You try desperately to fight with the camera angles to see what it is you have done and then it hits you, literally squashes you. Note to Lara, remember a boulder gets released when you press that button. Or what about the crumbling floor that leads to a pit of blood soaked spikes? Traps not only heightened your senses, but reminded you that whoever was in that place originally, built it to keep Croft wannabes out. Flash-forward to the reboot, I felt that these mechanics were replaced by cinematic set pieces where Lara ends up destroying an entire place that has the player jumping and running until the sequence is over. However, a certain level of expectation began to emerge each and every time these sequences reared their face. The next Tomb Raider has to have contraptions that could put an end to your game play instantly. Hidden floor pressure plates that once stepped on cause the walls to enclose at a rate almost as fast as your thumbs become trying to navigate out of danger. It should be the defining aspect of any new Tomb Raider installment and a wave of disappointment, I believe, would flurry over fans if this was neglected again.
So there you have it, just a few ideas to throw into the sequel pot. But what about you? What do you want to see happen in the next installment of Tomb Raider and the future for the series itself? This series has the potential to be something quite outstanding. From a visual standpoint, Crystal Dynamics definitely have a hold on that and no doubt wherever the series sees Lara go next will surely be an adventure to remember. Let us know your views in the comments below.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is set to be released 2015.
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily the views or opinions of D-Pad.