Opinion: Tomb Raider Sequel

Our hopes and fears for Lara’s next adventure.

The latest reimagining of the popular Miss Croft has won over the gaming masses, most likely due to her grounded mix of toughness and vulnerability. We watched Lara grow into a true survivor and take on a horde of crazed scavengers, ready to become the legendary explorer destined to plunder tombs the world over. With a sequel for next-gen systems well underway, we voice some thoughts on what should and probably shouldn’t follow…

New location, new challenges.

The island of Yamati was great fun to explore and atmospheric to boot. It was incessantly creepy with a history for Lara to unravel, and featured a surprise foe to encounter later on. One hope is a return to a similar foreboding atmosphere without traipsing into survival horror territory – you need only take a look at the concept art to see what might have been.

What we don’t want to see is another stride towards ‘Uncharted’ territory, where the threat is never given more weight than a thousand soldiers coming your way, firearms in hand. It’s possible to make a single foe more menacing than a hundred enemies running head-on, so it would be great to see Crystal take advantage of that fear of the unknown and build up a decent amount of tension. Dropping Lara in a colourful location before making things go from good to bad, then bad to worse would be a neat way of ensuring things are different enough from its predecessor.

No quick-time events!

It’s hard to believe that we’re still having to deal with these to such a degree in the new generation. Striking with an arrow to the knee after a well-timed button press can provide a sense of satisfaction that doesn’t come from watching a drawn-out animation, in which case it’s only context sensitive moments that have a valid reason to return. That opening scene where buttons flashed as Lara fought to escape the collapsing cave… not so much.

Suit up!

Bit of a controversial one this, as most have been praising Lara’s new appearance, and rightly so. The character model designed in all versions is stunning to look at and never resorted to DLC bikinis to pull gamers in. It isn’t glorifying sexuality to ask for a little fan service however, namely in the form of Classic and Legend selections for those who enjoyed the previous trilogy. Wearing shorts, after all, hardly classes a woman as ‘easy’.

The DLC outfits for Tomb Raider were generally poor and failed to offer up much diversity – the ‘Sure Shot’ archery costume standing out as the only real highlight. Creativity in the outfits would make sense given Lara’s new position as ‘tomb raider’, which also means she’d have more advanced tools at her disposal.

How about the tombs?

Here’s hoping that the sequel puts the ‘tomb’ back into Tomb Raider, though we were always drawn to complete the side-puzzles by the high experience gains on offer. Some of them were made up of a single room though, offering very little challenge and lasting no longer than a few short minutes. That’s not to say these should be made annoyingly tough to decipher, but rather open larger areas that make you feel like you’ve uncovered an area for the first time in centuries.

Then there’s the multiplayer…

Online multiplayer wasn’t very good in Tomb Raider. It’s always been a series for the single-player and gamers tend to smell a rat when such a thing has been mandated rather than included because of a genuinely good idea. If multiplayer must be included down the line – and really, we all know it will be – they need to come up with something other than bland match types to leave a lasting impression. How about a battle of wits in a race to the finish line while dodging traps and killing beasts for points? Anything to make it different.

While it’s sure to be great, a sequel’s succes may well depend on taking the response to Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and building a world to challenge this more self-assured Lara without making her appear too heartless. A more likeable supporting cast would go a long way in developing an emotional hook, without Lara having to resort to constant calls of ‘Sam!’ like she does in her current adventure. Any issues with the reboot may be meagre, but there’s always room for improvement. Let’s hope Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal have captured lightning in a bottle and can repeat their success with the upcoming sequel.