The Tomb Raider series was enormous in the PS1 era, but trailed off somewhat in both its quality and popularity over the following years. Everything changed however in early 2013 with the release of Tomb Raider, a series reboot, not discarding what had been created before, but giving us more insight into the Lara that had inspired a ten main series games, and a few spinoffs including handheld games a downloadable game – the only game to not feature the Tomb Raider name in the title, and of course two Hollywood films starring Angelina Jolie. The 2013 reboot garnered critical acclaim, and several Game of the Year nominations (we even considered it in our top 10 of the year), and now the whispers sweeping the internet are that a sequel is on the way, and if these rumours are indeed true, then it is likely to happen at this June’s E3 or in the lead-up to the event. So with all of this in mind, we identify five things we want to see from Tomb Raider 2.
1/ Heavier emphasis on Lara
The original reboot put a great deal of effort into Lara’s background and motivations on the island, but when the action began to heat up, Crystal Dynamics appeared to fall into the trap of forgetting much of the narrative work they had established in favour of telling a more popcorn-style action thriller. While we certainly have no problem with addressing both types of storytelling, it was clear that they wanted to tell a more personal story, but it fell by the wayside as the action began to heat up. Refining this storytelling will be important regardless of what direction they choose to go in with the new game.2/ More diverse Tombs
The tombs of the reboot were simple, yet concealed surprising depth that kept you thinking for a while before you could successfully solve the puzzle of the tomb. After a while though, the similar design of each tomb meant that the latter tombs were a bit easier to solve, and the similar design also meant that the environment within each tomb started to look quite similar. Linking in with our next point, more needs to be done in Tomb Raider 2 to ensure that the design of the tombs are diverse, from an aesthetic perspective as well as in terms of the puzzles that actually need solving.3/ Traverse the World
To facilitate new and diversified tomb design, this sequel would be the opportunity to allow Lara to travel the world – though this is certainly a leaf from the Uncharted franchise, a globe-trotting adventure would allow for inventive, and constantly refreshing level design, whilst also creating an engaging narrative, with the player never knowing where they could end up next. The island of Tomb Raider was sensational, with incredibly diverse environments contained within the space, but travelling between various locales allows for architecture inspired by varying cultures. All this combines to make a consistently more engaging and exciting adventure.4/ Address the Disconnect
Ludonarrative Dissonance is one of the industries buzzwords at present. It represents the disconnect between narrative and gameplay. In Tomb Raider, the story dictated that Lara was a vulnerable, terrified young woman trapped on an island that held a threat around every corner, and this was portrayed through many of the games cutscenes, however when the player resumed control of Lara, that reluctance and fear dissipated as she mowed through hordes of enemies, with none of it seeming to register with Lara. Much depends on the direction that Crystal Dynamics goes with this new game’s plot, but more work needs to go in to establishing a connection between the story and the gameplay, to make the narrative more immersive.5/ Improve the Multiplayer
The verticality of Tomb Raider’s Multiplayer mode was certainly impressive, but it didn’t deliver that one reason to continually dive into it; it didn’t deliver the polished execution of Uncharted 2/3, nor did it bring something new to the table as Gears of War did with Horde Mode, or as Titanfall has done in general. If Crystal Dynamics intend to persist with multiplayer in this next game, then they must either scrap it and completely focus on Single Player, spit, shine and polish it until it is on par with the Uncharted online experience or introduce that one unique bullet point that makes Tomb Raider Multiplayer stand apart from the rest.So there you have it, these are five things that we want to see from Tomb Raider 2. What do you want to see from the game? Do you agree/disagree with some of the points we’ve made? Sound off in the comments below. Also stay tuned to our E3 2014 Hub in the build up to E3 to see if the game, and any of these dreams come to fruition.
One final request for the game… a subtitle, the confusion that this rebooted series will create by sticking to numbers will inevitably get too much for series fans in future discussions. This rebooted series needs to have subtitles to separate it from what has come before.