At E3 I got a chance to play and see a presentation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is one of my most anticipated titles of this year. In short, the good news is if is you love the previous two Tomb Raider games, you’re in for a treat.
I’ll start with possibly the only downside I see with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I know a lot of people liked how linear the first game felt even if it didn’t have open areas for exploring. But a lot of people didn’t care for exactly how open Rise of the Tomb Raider was. Shadow of the Tomb Raider will see a similar style to Rise and will feature the largest social area in any of the Tomb Raider games. This isn’t an issue for me but I know it’s not for everyone.
Another aspect of the game that might not be for everyone is how much swimming was added to the game. Listening to the presentation by Jill Murray, the lead writer, fans cried out for more swimming in the Tomb Raider game. Shadow of the Tomb Raider features underwater areas for you to explore and navigate on your way to your objective. The bright side is that the controls for swimming as Lara are pretty simple. So getting through the water, stopping off at an air pocket, and surviving weren’t much of an issue. In parts of the game, however, these underwater areas will have some dead ends, hazards and even wildlife like eels and piranha to deal with.
The gameplay in Shadow of the Tomb Raider is tight, possibly the best it’s ever been without being overly complicated. The same climbing and platforming mechanics exist but now have an added a new rappel mechanic to, well, rappel into tombs. It might not seem like much but slowing descending into a tomb and spinning the camera to see the tomb really immersed me. That small addition had me eager to drop into every tomb right away but the demo didn’t allow me to continue playing past that level.
The combat is more of the same, start stealthy and when you mess that up, it’s a gun fight to stay alive. There wasn’t much variation to be seen from the gun play but the stealth combat has been changed up. Lara can enter and exit stealth whenever, and she can use more of her environment to hide from enemies and gain the upper hand when taking out camps. While it’s still pretty similar, it does add a new feeling to the stealth portions of the game that give you better control of taking out a bunch of baddies.
What I’m excited to try out, when the game releases, are the increased difficulties and immersion modes. Upping the difficulty won’t only make enemies tougher but will also make puzzles more challenging by removing some of the more obvious indicators of where you can climb and traverse the area. Immersion mode keeps the game the way the developers intend it by having locals speak the native tongue instead of everyone in Peru just speaking English for no reason. That’s something I think is pretty cool for a more authentic experience.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider impressed me greatly. I already expected to like the game but with the small, quality of life additions plus a darker, more intense Lara has me super excited for the full release. It’s like my adolescent years all over again, Spider-Man and Lara Croft are fighting for my attention this year. Well, at least through September…