In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Destruction Becomes Lara’s Closest Companion

Floods, earthquakes, and more follow Lara after she accidentally starts the Mayan apocalypse.

In the latest demo of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, shown behind closed doors at Gamescom 2018, Lara is faced with yet another bout of destruction as a city faces the wrath of the encroaching apocalypse. This iteration of Tomb Raider shows Lara at the end of her origin story, and while the previous two games explored her ability to survive and what it means to be a Croft, Shadow is looking to explore what it means for Lara to be a Tomb Raider and the responsibility that comes with it.

At this point, we’ve seen how Lara’s new adventure brings a bigger focus on puzzles and exploration and how she essentially causes an apocalypse and alienates herself in a darker story, but also how the hubs and gameplay feel very familiar to the previous Tomb Raider reboot games. This hands-off Gamescom gameplay, though short, shows off some more combat and yet another crumbling city.

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ABOVE: The first 15 minutes of gameplay from Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Finding the right path down the city as everything crumbles still makes for a heartbreaking spectacle.

Lara is at the end of a mission, sneaking around in tall grass and facing off against some very well armed Trinity soldiers. The engagement itself looks tough when it breaks out into a forced firefight, but Lara has plenty of explosives to target around the Trinity forces. The new Focus mode is shown briefly here as well, and demonstrates that the new plant-based buff is useful in not only slowing down time while aiming for weapons like the bow and arrow, but for the assault rifle as well. The Trinity forces in this area were loaded with armor, so making each bullet count more is certainly helpful.

Once cleared of the firefight, the cutscene shows Trinity’s leader escaping the city with an artifact Lara needs to stop the impending apocalypse. She doesn’t get much time to worry about that, though, as the promised doom overtakes the city she’s in. The action scene that followed reinforced the terrible destruction of Lara’s mistake. In this scene Lara has to escape a massive mudslide that’s tearing apart the town, and her paths are limited. This sort of chase gameplay was used in a different area too, but finding the right path down the city as everything crumbles still makes for a heartbreaking spectacle.

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ABOVE: How Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks to evolve the series.

This Tomb Raider is big on spectacle and tough times for anyone around Lara.

This demo makes it pretty clear that this Tomb Raider is big on spectacle and tough times for anyone around Lara. The Tomb Raider herself is also a lot different, as seen in some trailers that show her more aggressive stealth takedowns (she practically hangs a man in a tree) and her raging self-importance in claiming she’s the only one who can take down Trinity. The question of whether or not Shadow of the Tomb Raider can sufficiently tackle Lara’s internal struggle remains to be seen, but it’s at least trying to explore the growing darkness in its design.

Violence also follows Lara into the far more deadly Challenge Tombs. IGN will sit down with Arne Oehme, Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s level design director, at Gamescom to take a look at a mid-game tomb and discuss the design philosophy behind these more dangerous challenges. If you’re interested on learning more about Lara’s upcoming adventure, be sure to check out all of our IGN First coverage of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, including a feature that details all the biggest gameplay changes and new features in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Miranda Sanchez is a senior editor at IGN. It took her well over 100 hours to 100% Rise of the Tomb Raider, and she’s ready to do it again in Shadow. You can follow her on Twitter.

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