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Shadow of the Tomb Raider Preview PT 2: Every Beginning Has An End

Posted on May 2, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

This is Part 2 of my comprehensive preview of the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider based upon an hour long play session and interviews at last week’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal event. Square Enix USA covered my travel expenses and accommodations to attend the event. If you missed my breakdown on how Shadow of the Tomb Raider is evolving the established Tomb Raider formula – check it out here.

Later this week and early next week I’ll be publishing a pair of video interviews with a Gameplay Systems Designer and Producer from the game.

Debut Trailer

SotTR’s First Hour

Spoiler Warning: The following hands-on preview discusses the ending of Rise of the Tomb Raider and how it affects Lara’s motivation towards the villans in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Both the events of RotR’s ending and the identity of SotTR’s villans are discussed at length. Several names and events have been blacked out to help readers avoid spoilers.

I got the chance to go hands-on for Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s beginning hour during the reveal event in Montreal, Quebec last week. My play session kicked off approximately 15 minutes into SotTR’s campaign I was told by one of the developers at the event. Lara alongside Jonah – who players of Rise of the Tomb Raider should recognize – find themselves hunting down a set of Mayan relics before the Trinity Organization can get their hands both the Box and Silver Key of Ixel Chel.

Legends say that by using the mystical power contained within the Box in combination with the Key, the holder of both Relics can reshape the world. This transformation takes the shape of a powerful world shattering Earthquake, a massive volcanic eruption and a drowning Tsunami. While Trinity’s intentions with these devastating powerful forces is not made entirely clear – surely they will kill a lot of the Earth’s population in doing so.

Avoiding an apocalyptic scenario isn’t the only thing at stake for Lara Croft in this third entry of the rebooted franchise. Given how Rise of the Tomb Raider ended – after Lara spending the entirety of RotR processing the suppressed memory of her father’s suicide, it is revealed that the Trinity Organization orchestrated his death – there is a personal factor driving Lara’s determination to see things through to their conclusion. SotTR’s antagonist, Dr. Dominguez who heads up Trinity will pose an equal intellectual, as well as physical challenge, to both Lara and Jonah this time around. Perhaps it is Crystal Dynamics / Edios Montreal’s intention to have the player question whose approach to averting the Mayan apocalypse is best? – if a disastrous power is going to be unleashed upon the world should it be used in a way that allows some of humanity to live?

My demo began with Lara and Jonah arriving at a South American festival that gave off a vibe similar to that of Dia de Muertos with banners, fireworks and attendees sporting skeleton face paint. To hide her identity Lara dons a hooded poncho and a partial Skull Mask that, to be honest, looked absolutely amazing on her! Our heroes must stay hidden from Trinity security forces all while gaining access to one of the organization’s Dig Sites in order to find out where the Key of IX Chel is located. As Jonah distracts armed men by approaching them and asking about an on-going party, I guided Lara through the city streets, which acted as a basic movement tutorial.

Things opened up as I progressed through the Dig Site, with SotTR prompting me about the basics of stealth – hiding in bushes, watching enemy alert statuses – as well as a basic primer on how to run and gun my way through a given situation. Hiding in the lush South American brush and striking guards from close quarters is just as exhilarating as it sounds. Towards the Dig Site’s conclusion I decided to change my approach and use the small sub-machine gun that Lara came equipped with to dispatch the remaining patrols.

Gameplay seamlessly shifted things to the first real Tomb of Shadow’s first hour – “Hunter’s Moon” – which saw me utilizing Lara’s climbing expertise to effortlessly climb and repel Lara into the once hidden temple belonging to Ix Chel (when I wasn’t missing the button prompt to connect two jumps together and falling to my death). Rope Arrows from the previous two titles where key to solving a quite ingenious puzzle involving an abandoned mine cart and a wench. Without giving away the solution, after solving the mine cart puzzle and another clever puzzle involving large weights Lara finally had one of the two coveted Mayan artifacts in her possession.

This is where things went from standard action movie fare – as seen in the previous two titles – to nearly world shattering. A ginormous tidal wave quickly engulfs the cavernous tomb and sweeps Lara out and onto the city streets. What follows is an almost indescribable amount of devastation as the large wave carries Lara, innocent pedestrians, cars and anything not firmly cemented into a foundation along with it.

As the water subsides and Lara rejoins Jonnah for the first time since the opening minutes of the demo she surveys the sheer damage the tidal wave has unleashed. Suddenly the roaring blades of a helicopter come from behind and within an instant the duo are face to face with Dr. Dominquez who promptly swipes the dagger of Ix Chel from Lara’s possession without a grandiose speech or monologue – RoTR’s Konstantine, he is not.

It is here in the closing seconds of SotTR’s first hour that the impact of all of this destruction catches up with Lara. I could see the anguish and guilt stricken across her face as she begins to plead with Jonah to go on to the next dig site and capture the box before Trinity can. It is here the Jonah snaps back at Lara in quite an unexpected fashion – essentially saying “Not everything is about you Lara, you want to act on a myth and a scrap of information when the people HERE need us. We can make a difference here.” With just a few short sentences he bring’s Lara’s attention back to devastation caused by the removal of the Key and away from her larger quest – reminding her of the human cost that can come when the stakes are this high.


Shadow of the Tomb Raider Preview: Redefining Gameplay

Posted on April 27, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

This preview focusing on Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s gameplay systems and their evolution between games is part one of a two part hands-on preview. A second part focusing on the plat revealed thus far, trailer and hands-on demo gameplay will be posted later on today. Square Enix covered accommodations and travel for me to attend the Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal event.

For the past half decade the Tomb Raider franchise has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity and fan interest since Crystal Dynamics / Edios Montreal successfully revitalized the series with their 2013’s origin story. With two adventures behind her, Lara Croft is about to become “who she was meant to be”, according to the game’s Creative Director, in the newly revealed third entry in the reboot trilogy- Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Square Enix invited me out to Montreal Quebec this past week in order to be one of the first people in the world to to go hands-on with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

The Creative Director for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Daniel Chayer, mentioned that the journey to craft the pinnacle of Lara’s development actually began during the early days of development for Tomb Raider (2013). Developers at Crystal Dynamics and Edios Montreal knew that they wanted Lara to be a strong and relateable protagonist. They envisioned who she would be at the end of her journey and worked backwards from that point.

Daniel walked through how Lara as a character has developed throughout the trilogy of games. In Tomb Raider (2013) Lara was thrust into an uncertain environment – all the while was still unaware of the skills that she could hone or the path that destiny would lay out before her. During the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider, players saw first hand how much she has grown – while guiding her through her first tomb expedition and exploring the deeply hidden secrets hidden within her subconscious. Watching Lara Croft develop as a character and grow between titles has been a key element for the developers at Crystal Dynamics / Eidos Montreal and to achieve this goal successfully Lara Croft must be as relatable and real as possible.

Character development isn’t aspect of Tomb Raider that has changed and grown from title to title. Gameplay mechanics, systems and even the core design “pillars” the underpin the creative philosophy behind each game must also grow and adapt from iteration to iteration. From a high concept perspective the gameplay of the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise can be boiled down to combat, traversal and resourcefulness. When looking to expand upon these pillars Crystal Dynamics and Edios Montreal put a special focus on the environments. It is their belief that the environments in Shadow of the Tomb Raider play a vital role in bringing Lara Croft as a character to life – the more realistic the environments are, the more relatable Lara is.

To facilitate the creation of even more treacherous and sequestered tombs for our heroine to explore the developers have expanded upon the “traversal” pillar with the creation of “terrifying vistas”. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider literally everything within a tomb is out to kill Lara, Chayer explained during his presentation. Developers asked themselves the question – “what makes tombs terrifying?” and apparently the answer to this question is to have Lara explore the deep series of caverns burred within South America that extend under the sea. Players took their first literal footsteps down below with Lara as she went spelunking into the tombs of Rise and will have to overcome challenges that eclipse anything seen thus far in the franchise.

Above: The weapon upgrade screen from Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)

Utilizing resources to expand Lara’s arsenal of weapons, acquire additional combat skills and survival techniques have been a key part of Tomb Raider’s gameplay from the very first title in the reboot trilogy. Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics are set to expand upon this familiar system with a revised pillar that they are calling “resourceful Lara”. What this means for our heroine is that she will have a complete understanding of the environment around her. For players this will mean a more open ended progression system when it comes to upgrades so that a player’s Lara Croft will better represent the type of play that suits them.

If you enjoyed this in-depth look at the design philosophy, core gameplay systems and new features coming in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, check back later today and early next week for more coverage from my time at the Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal event.


Rise of The Tomb Raider Demo Now Available On Xbox One

Posted on December 20, 2015 by Rae Michelle Richards

Microsoft and Creative Dynamics have released a demo version of Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One. Spotted by an eagle-eyed Neogaf user this demo version of the appeared on the Xbox Live web-store this evening.

It’s unknown as of press time what the demo contains in terms of content or how large the download is. As I do not have an Xbox One I’m unable to try it out at this time. The full version of Rise of the Tomb Raider clocks in at 20.86GB.

You can add the Rise of the Tomb Raider demo to your download queue by following this link.

The Xbox.com store offers this brief synopsis of the game:

“Featuring epic, high-octane action moments set in the most beautifully hostile environments on earth, Rise of the Tomb Raider delivers a cinematic survival action adventure where you will join Lara Croft on her first tomb raiding expedition. “



Rise of the Tomb Raider Coming To PlayStation In Holiday 2016

Posted on July 23, 2015 by Rae Michelle Richards

As it turns out the console exclusivity deal for Crystal Dynamic’s Rise of the Tomb Raider is simply a timed exclusive deal, something neither publisher Square Enix or Microsoft mentioned during the games numerous appearances at E3 2014, Gamescom 2014 or this past E3.

In a press release issued this morning Square Enix confirmed that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be released on Xbox One on November 10th this year, on Windows 10 PC / Steam sometime in early 2016 and finally on PlayStation 4 one year after the Xbox One version in Holiday 2016. Development duties for all versions is being handled by Crystal Dynamics.

In all honesty this kind of takes the wind right out of the word “exclusive” – sure we’ve seen other publishers, most notably Activision with time locked content in Destiny on PlayStation Platforms, lock away content for an unspecified amount of time. But this whole deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider is a bit different because Square & Microsoft failed to acknowledge that the game would ever come to other platforms although many in the industry expected that Rise would eventually make the jump.

Check out the E3 2014 trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider below. We’ll probably hear more about the game at Gamescom this August.

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Coming To Xbox One/PS4

Posted on December 8, 2013 by Joshua Rust

Announced last night via Spike’s VGX 2013 award show was Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, a rebuilt and remade version of the Xbox 360/PS3 versions of the game. Gamers that missed out on the previous generation versions (but really, why would you?) will have another chance to grab hold of what is one of the best Tomb Raider games in a long time.

Read More


New Tomb Raider Video Guides You To Survive Combat

Posted on February 21, 2013 by Joshua Rust

Man, I can’t rave enough about how awesome Tomb Raider looks. To think where she originated and to what it looks like now is truly amazing and inspiring.  A new video has been released by Square Enix & Crystal Dynamics that will teach you everything you need to know about “Combat Survival”.

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Here is how Square Enix describes this video:

The first two episodes of Guide to Survival highlighted how an inexperienced Lara Croft must use her intellect and whatever she can scavenge to survive the harsh conditions of Yamatai. In this final episode we dig deep into Lara’s scrappy and raw approach to combat.

The elements aren’t the only thing after Lara on the island – predators come in both two and four-legged varieties. Lara’s unlocked skills and weapon upgrades culminate in her combat style, executed in both close-quarters and frenzied firefights.

Outnumbered and outgunned, stealth is frequently Lara’s strongest advantage. Approaching enemies undetected will allow her to pull off silent kills and keep fellow Solarii in the dark. The environment will also provide frequent opportunities for Lara to gain the upper hand. She must always be prepared to brawl up close, however, aided by dodge and counter moves and improved equipment. With wits and weapons combined, Lara is a smart and ultimately very dangerous fighter.

Tomb Raider will launch on March 5th, 2012…and I will reiterate like I always do: I CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON THIS!


Travel Back To Base Camp In This Tomb Raider Video

Posted on February 6, 2013 by Joshua Rust

It’s officially less than a month until the release of one the most anticipated games on my list: Tomb Raider. While I’m not overly thrilled with the inclusion of multiplayer to a single player franchise, I won’t completely off it until I’ve played it.

In this new video that was released today from Square Enix & Crystal Dynamics, Lara will show you how upgrading your stats and weapons will allow further exploration into the island. As well as detailing what Base Camp offers you in means of interacting with other characters and upgrading Lara herself.

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Are you as excited as we are? Tomb Raider launches on March 5th for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.


Tomb Raider Multiplayer Video From Square Enix

Posted on January 8, 2013 by Joshua Rust

I won’t lie and say that I was happy when Square Enix announced that Tomb Raider would be receiving a multiplayer component to a single player franchise.  I’m an avid Tomb Raider fan and while I know why developers/publishers want to include multiplayer in single player games sometimes I believe it affects the outcome of the single player game. While Square Enix has assured the media that it won’t have any effect on the quality of the single player campaign, I guess we will play the waiting game to see if that is indeed the case. Let’s hope so. A prime example of this would be Dead Space…do you remember Dead Space 2’s multiplayer? Yeah, me neither.

Hopefully I’m wrong about this and Tomb Raider multiplayer turns out to be completely amazing (which I do hope for). There are some games that adding a multiplayer component has indeed expanded the lifetime of the game – look at Mass Effect 3, it has a ton of success from adding a multiplayer component. But the thing is, it’s cooperative…not competitive.

So here is the first look at Tomb Raider’s multiplayer (starts at about the 4:35 mark):

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So what do you all think about the addition of competitive multiplayer to Tomb Raider? For it or against it? Tomb Raider launches March 5th, 2013.


Square Enix Releases A “Guide To Survival” For Tomb Raider

Posted on December 17, 2012 by Joshua Rust

Today Square Enix has released part one of a new series that shows off some of the choices young Lara has to face throughout her journey in the upcoming Tomb Raider game.

Here is what Square Enix has to say about Lara:

“Though she doesn’t begin as a fully accomplished heroine she’s smart, resourceful and full of potential: you’ll see Lara using the Basecamp System to upgrade her skills and gear, see how she uses her Survival Instinct to explore on the island, and get an insight into her signature weapon, the bow.”

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Tomb Raider will release on March 5th, 2013. If you haven’t seen the Collector’s Edition for North America, I’d suggest checking this out. Hurry and pre-order it while supplies last! I know I’ve got mine pre-ordered!


New Tomb Raider Trailer | “Survivor”

Posted on December 11, 2012 by Jesse Lord

What’s that, you say?  You’re just itching for some more footage of Lara Croft doing her thing in the upcoming Tomb Raider game?  Well we’re here to help!  Just yesterday Square Enix sent out a new trailer, titled “Survivor.”  Check it out below:

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By way of reminder, Tomb Raider is slated to be released on March 5th, 2013 on multiple platforms.  For me, that cannot come soon enough!


New Tomb Raider Screens Get Down & Dirty

Posted on December 3, 2012 by Joshua Rust

I have to say that I’m extremely excited to get my hands on the new Tomb Raider game when it launches March 5th, 2013.  I think I have played just about every Tomb Raider game that there is and this one looks like it could live up to the classic, original, Tomb Raider game. Throughout Lara’s history there have been some good incarnations and some really bad ones (yes Angel Of Darkness…I’m looking at you).

So in order to tide you over until Tomb Raider gets here, Square Enix & Crystal Dynamics have released some new screenshots for you to enjoy. Ranging from a weapon, to Lara sneaking around, and even going toe to toe with a wolf – these babies look fantastic. So check them out!





Again, Tomb Raider is expected to launch March 5th, 2013. Who’s ready for it?!


Tomb Raider “The Final Hours” Episode 3

Posted on December 2, 2012 by Joshua Rust

Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have been making sure they let you know everything about the upcoming Tomb Raider title that is due out early next year. This week’s edition stars host Zachary Levi and shows off the soundtrack forTomb Raider as composed by Jason Graves.

For those of you who do not know who Jason Graves is, well…you should. Even if you don’t know him, I can almost guarantee that you have played a game that has had his musical expertise implemented in it –  titles like Dead Space, F.E.A.R., Gauntlet, and Star Trek. For a complete list of all the games (and his many many awards) he has had his hand in, check out this site.

(P.S. Video does have an age gate, so you may have to sign in.)

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And the U.K. version:

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Tomb Raider is expected to launch March 5th, 2013. Who’s excited?


Tomb Raider Collector’s Edition For North America Unveiled

Posted on November 12, 2012 by Joshua Rust

Square Enix has announced today the details of the North American Collector’s Edition for the March release of Tomb Raider. I’m not sure what the deal is with these collector’s editions, but these last few have been looking sweet! (See Assassin’s Creed III & Bioshock: Infinite)

Tomb Raider is a juggernaut when it comes to video game franchises, reaching an amazing 35 million copies sold worldwide. It’s no suprise that with thisTomb Raider “refresh” that Square Enix would do something special for it.

The contents, as seen above, include:

Play Arts -KAI- Lara Croft figurine– Lara Croft has been beautifully recreated as an 8-inch Play Arts -KAI- action figure. The figure comes with an alternate set of three hands, bow and arrow, shotgun, handgun, and an ice axe.

Double-sided island map and poster – Discover Key Landmarks from the mysterious island of Yamatai, where Lara Croft and her fellow castaways were marooned after the Endurance shipwreck, in this 15” x 19” poster. On the reverse is a poster-size image of the box art that epitomizes Lara’s origin story.

Lithographic print – An exclusive 5” x 7” Lara Croft heavy-stock lithograph print with matte frame designed by Crystal Dynamic’s Brian Horton, senior art director, and Brenoch Adams, concept artist.

Experience Shields –Three iron-on badges based on the game’s experience icons: “Animal Instincts,” the “Climbing Axe” and “Fire Arrow.”

TOMB RAIDER Original Soundtrack ‘Survivalist Cut’- A collection of 10 tracks with over 60 minutes of music from the game.

Weapons Pack Downloadable Content – includes a variety of weapons to help Lara survive against the island’s inhabitants.

There are limited quantities of this collector’s edition, so make sure you go out and pre-order this as soon as possible.  Tomb Raider Collector’s Edition (for North America) retails at $99.99 and will hit stores March 5th, 2013.


Tomb Raider | FINAL HOURS EPISODE 2: Origins of a Story

Posted on October 2, 2012 by Jesse Lord

Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have released the second FINAL HOURS Episode, titled Origins of a Story, today.  This video series focuses on Tomb Raider and it gives a behind-the-curtain look at the different game development processes and procedures as they get closer and closer to retail release.  This episode specifically focuses on character design and creation.  It features never-before-seen footage from the game, it is hosted at San Diego Comic-Con’s Nerd HQ by none other than the nerd-cred-certified Zachary Levi.  It features lead writer Rhianna Pratchett, narrative designer John Stafford, and creative director Noah Hughes.  They all speak about the heavy pressures that come from taking an already-iconic and fan-favorite character like Lara Croft and giving her a new look, feel and story.  There’s much more to be found in the video, but I will leave you all to it.

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The worst thing about this is the fact that I’m not already playing this game.  What say you, internets?


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