Around these parts, we’re just a bit fond of Tomb Raider, the origins story that was released to show Lara Croft as a green behind the ears explorer who was neither very good at killing, shooting or not getting herself torn to pieces by particularly pointy bits of metal. We like the gameplay, the characters and the world that is was set in and when I reviewed it a few months ago, I even thought that Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (the PS4 and Xbox One rerelease of the 2013 game) was a cracking title too. Obviously, I want more of it and as I’m sure some sort of Yamatai prophecy suggests, you probably do to so here’s a list of the 8 things that we’d like to see from a Tomb Raider sequel.
[ED Note] – I refer to the ‘Tomb Raider game that’s released next as the ‘Tomb Raider sequel’ and not Tomb Raider 2 because a) that game already exists and b) the game’s developer, Crystal Dynamics, is rumoured to be adding a ridiculous buzzphrase to the next game in the series so ‘Tomb Raider sequel’ works out for everyone.
1. More of Lara’s Development
The entire point of Tomb Raider (which the game pulled off phenomenally well) was that it was meant to show Lara Croft in a light not touched on by any game before it. From the getgo, Lara was a diving and fighting treasure hunter with a distinct aptitude for kicking ass and taking names (in that order) but last year’s Tomb Raider boiled that down to a time where she was anything but. The Tomb Raider sequel needn’t feature any of that advanced combat malarkey either (I’m talking superhuman strength or experienced abilities type thing) because having survived the loss of four of her colleagues, nearly dying more times than I could count and having to kill a man for the first time ever, she probably knows no more than she did when the Endeavour crashed onto Yamatai. Crystal Dynamics should continue that and ignore everything else the other Tomb Raider games (before 2013’s) delivered with their lesser polygons and widely disputed mammary sizes, only choosing to carry on with young amount of canon that they have already set up.
2. More Yamatai-esque Settings
To make it clear, I’m not necessarily asking for more deathtrap islands set somewhere in Asia (although I do have a soft spot for Yamatai’s lore) but I do like just how beautifully the last Tomb Raider’s location was presented. According to reports, the Tomb Raider sequel is set to ‘go globetrotting’ in the vein of the comics, featuring not but one several new locales for Lara to test her mettle in and if they want to win we over the way Yamatai did, it’ll need to have the same amount of variation and it’ll need to look so flipping gorgeous that I’ll curse my specs for not being just a little bit clearer. Crystal Dynamics are also reportedly said to be looking for new cinematic and artistic masterminds, so as Yamatai had rain, snow, water, metal, towering structures, fires and trees and just enough range in weather patterns for Lara to exclaim ‘this isn’t right’ I want more of that across these new settings, please.
3. More Sam, Reyes and Jonah
I didn’t like Whitman, I didn’t like Alex, Angus was an uncomfortable loss and I wept for 10 minutes when Roth died. However, I was absolutely thrilled that Sam, Reyes and Jonah made it out alive because they are some of the finest examples of well-developed characters who don’t happen to be leads. The small amounts of downtime between the survivors, where Lara had a chance to put down her gun, upgrade her skills and have short but revealing conversations with Sam, Reyes and Jonah as she figured out how they were holding up after being chased to near death by well-armed mad men (surprisingly well as it happens) meant just as much to me as the times Lara spent alone contemplating her life’s worth in the forest or any of the action heavy gun battles. In a Tomb Raider sequel this could even be expanded to including co-op, with the four characters of Lara, Sam, Reyes and Jonah perhaps offering assault, medic, support and tank like gameplay styles respectively.
[SPOILER ALERT] – I’ll also add that having begun to read Gail Simone’s Tomb Raider comics, which are meant to bridge the gap between 2013’s Tomb Raider and the sequel, the first issue of the comic actually ends with Jonah dying. I’m not entirely sure if that’ll be carried over or explained but it happens and it’s canon now and unless that gets rectified in the next 4 issues (which I do plan on reading at some point) Jonah might not be making a return in the Tomb Raider sequel.
4. More Rhianna Pratchett (and Gail Simone Too!)
Rhianna Pratchett is a smart woman. She is both in tune with what a rounded portrayal of a female characters can do, knows where the industry often gets it wrong (see: leaving out said characters or layering them with tropes) and she also happens to be ridiculously talented to boot. There’s a reason why she’s been featured in more than a handful of my RFRL columns and that’s because simply, she knows what she’s talking about. Paired with Gail Simone, the two are responsible for some of the best writing the Tomb Raider franchise has ever seen and between 2013’s TR game and the comics that Simone has helmed, both writers have created building blocks for the Tomb Raider sequel and in honesty, while I’m unlikely to shun the game for whatever reason (unless the somehow manage to cock up everything else on this list), I’d be more than a bit sceptical if anyone other than the current TR writing team were to work on the next game.
5. More Lore
With a fantastic cast of characters to interact with, all backed by Pratchett (and another writer – whose name I haven’t seen since the credits of the game and couldn’t find online, sorry!)’s writing, Yamatai was a wonderful place to be in, even if the whole impending death, supernatural curse and hordes of armed guards loomed over you the whole time. Much of that was because I really enjoyed collecting things. Forget collecting scrap for parts, it was the collection of items and trinkets and hearing diary entries spoken with seemingly real emotion from my TV (and then again from my DualShock 4 controller for emphasis) that really made me fall in love with the game and that would contribute to how I felt about the Tomb Raider sequel. There’s a particular moment where Reyes reveals via spoken diary entry that Roth is her daughter’s father and it made me weep all the more harder to watch him die without him realising that. There’s another, where a diplomatic envoy describes the Sun Queen’s power, that only fuelled my thirst for wanting to know more about Yamatai and its mysterious inhabitants. And what really stuck out to me out of all of the diary entries are the ones by both Lara and Sam about each other – these two friends love each other and whether you agree that that love is platonic or not, it’s there. Lara caring so much for her best friend is one the main reasons why she pushed so much harder to save Sam and get them all off of this island. Effectively, without all that, the storyline had little reason to exist.
6. More DLC (the Kind That Doesn’t Embarrass Me to Own)
Outfits? Really, Crystal Dynamics? That’s one of the first things I said upon realising that by owning Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition I’d gained access to a full wardrobe of costume changes. There were about 10 or so outfits altogether and that number might not be accurate but it doesn’t matter because they were all ridiculous. Ridiculous not because they put Lara in a bucket hat or a feather boa or anything else but because time could have been spent putting together far better DLC. I haven’t played The Last Of Us’ new round of Ellie and Riley featuring DLC but I would have loved to have seen some of that, albeit with Sam and Lara, in the last game and it’ll be a missed opportunity if Crystal Dynamics don’t include that sort of DLC in the Tomb Raider sequel. Though in all honesty, any DLC would be better than more clothes to put Lara in.
7. More Tombs
God yes, it was practically criminal that the Tomb Raider game included as many actual tombs to raid as I could count on one hand. It broke up the action with the running and the gunning and the pickaxes to the forehead and it simultaneously puzzled me when I got stuck trying to get treasure in a tomb the first time round when I played the game on PS3 and delighted me a few months later when I put together the pieces and bested the tomb on PS4. Crystal Dynamics if you’re listening please deliver more of this in droves.
8. More Boss Battles (That Are Adequately Challenging)
The final boss battle of Tomb Raider; let’s talk about it. Specifically, let’s talk about how awful it was, because if I was a more stingy reviewer, I’d have shaved more than a few points off for that last battle alone. To recap, we spent the whole game (say, upwards of 15 hours of play) learning about how the Sun Queen’s Stormguard are the most powerful, frightening things this side of a Sumo wrestler with a grudge. Even before we actually face the Stormguard in the final ‘real’ boss battle, there’s a stealth section in which Lara must avoid getting caught by dozens of the blighters save she gets mangled like a bit of meat in a carnivorous pestle and mortar. Yet despite the big build up and the fact that I played on normal difficulty worrying about having to face said Stormguard because of how notoriously naff I am at games, I was able to complete that battle in about 5 minutes. In fact it was probably less than 5 minutes because after 3 quick rounds of ‘shoot his back’ followed by ‘stab him in the knee with the button prompt you unlocked with XP points about 3 hours earlier’ he was defeated and I went on to complete the game. This does not spell out what should be the game’s peak of difficulty, nor does it spell out very good pacing and CD don’t rectify this sort of thing in the Tomb Raider sequel, this is going to be the feature that disappoints me the most.
What do you want to see from the Tomb Raider sequel? – Leave a comment and let us know.