Shadow of the Tomb Raider Preview: Apocalypse Soon

Square Enix is promising that Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be Lara Croft's 'defining moment.' To begin to get an idea of what that entails, Shacknews went hands-on with the final chapter of the 2013 trilogy during a special reveal event on Thursday.


Tomb Raider was the beginning of Lara Croft's journey. Rise of the Tomb Raider was Lara growing into her role and becoming a capable fighter and archaeologist. Now comes Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is said to be the culmination of Lara's saga.

Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Square Enix are calling this Lara Croft's "defining moment." But what exactly does this mean? Shacknews went hands-on during Thursday's Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal event to get a better idea, as well as check out some of the game's mechanics, both new and familiar.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks to pick up where 'Rise' left off, with Lara continuing to follow the machinations of shadow organization Trinity. The demo opened in a small Mexican pueblo, as they spy on a nearby gentleman called Doctor Dominguez. Lara and her returning friend Jonah make sure to follow Dominguez as he awaits word on an artifact that they're seeking nearby. As Jonah creates a diversion with nearby guards, Lara scales an alley wall and clandestinely keeps pace with Dominguez and his Trinity contacts. Jonah soon surmises that Dominguez is actually the leader of the shadowy cabal, indicating that he will likely be the game's main antagonist.

This led into some familiar elements surrounding Lara traversing the world. The pick axe returns, as players jump from ledge to ledge and use the pick axe to cling onto certain walls. Many of the previous mechanics return, like having to press a button if the pick axe doesn't quite grip the wall all the way. Newer mechanics like rappeling are also featured, as are puzzle elements, like weighted platforms and platforms that get moved around with Lara's rope arrows.

Exploring tombs also becomes a key element, although the tomb on display here was noticeably dingier than anything seen in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Shadow of the Tomb Raider embraced this spookier atmosphere with darker environments and strategic music cues, which included a few jump scares. Some of them were harmless, like Lara stopping as a pack of rats ran by. Others, not so much, like a group of bats flying across as Lara tried to make a jump, leading to her crashing to the ground to her death.

There is one other major element returning to Shadow of the Tomb Raider and that's swimming. Certain areas will feature extensive swimming sequences that task players with finding their way to different areas, while also managing their oxygen and keeping away from underwater creatures. There are another jump scare littered in this area, as Lara went up to surface and was greeted by a giant eel.

The demo offered a general idea of what's coming, but Lara's journey will now take her to the jungles of South America as she seeks to prevent a Mayan apocalypse from coming to pass. Hints were presented in regards to the various calamities that Trinity is looking to enact, with the jungle environment looking to offer some of the harshest environments to date. But Shadow of the Tomb Raider's entire premise is that Lara Croft has mastered her element. To that end, there were several portions in the demo where Lara was able to pull off multiple stealth kills either with her knife or with a well-placed arrow. The trailer released on Friday indicates that Shadow of the Tomb Raider will go a step further, with Lara being so masterful at her craft that she's able to use the environment to dispatch numbers of hapless Trinity grunts.

There are several other elements of Shadow of the Tomb Raider that will feel familiar. The RPG elements still appear to be in place. The user interface looks to be exactly the same. Traps will still pop up at a moment's notice with only a split-second to hit the right button or face certain death. There don't appear to be any drastic changes from Rise of the Tomb Raider, but considering what a joy that game was, that's perfectly fine.

How will Lara Croft reach her "defining moment?" Players will get to find that out when Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 14.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 27, 2018 6:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Preview: Apocalypse Soon

    • reply
      April 27, 2018 11:30 AM

      I really hope this is an Xbox One X title and it looks at least as good as FC5. I have no doubt the game play will be awesome if its the same team as previous games.

    • reply
      April 27, 2018 2:30 PM

      Sept 14th! I’ll likely pick this up.

    • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
      April 27, 2018 5:35 PM

      She's a full-on murderin' jungle cat in this one eh? I enjoyed the -- largely -- combat-free Underworld recently, with its numerous architectural puzzles, and though the last two FPS reboots are great and were needed to shake up a stultified franchise, hopefully the devs can take this success and combine it with more of the old-style gameplay.

      • reply
        April 27, 2018 5:46 PM

        Underworld was amazing. Loved it a lot. The art dedign was fabulous

    • reply
      April 28, 2018 5:30 AM

      This is a launch day purchase.

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