Shadow of the Tomb Raider Pre-E3 2018 Preview: Paititi Paradise

Prior to this year's E3, Square Enix had some more to show off for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as Shacknews explores the series' biggest hub world to date.

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A lot has been made about Shadow of the Tomb Raider acting as Lara Croft's "defining moment." Square Enix, Eidos Montreal, and Crystal Dynamics have made it a point to repeatedly emphasize that this will be Lara Croft fulfilling her destiny and becoming the Tomb Raider she was meant to be. That theme remains prevalent on the heels of E3 2018, but what exactly does all of this mean?

Square Enix showed off some more of the third game in the rebooted Tomb Raider series prior to E3, revealing that Lara's mission is going to be one that's greater than just her. There's an entire civilization that stands to be affected by her journey, as well as by the machinations of Trinity. Shacknews recently got to check out this world and see how much bigger Lara's world has become.

Following Shadow of the Tomb Raider's opening minutes, Lara finds herself in search of an ancient Mayan relic that's capable of bringing about the apocalypse, as she seeks to get it before Trinity does. Her travels take her to Paititi, which will act as the game's hub world. And it's a massive village environment, filled with farmers, merchants, and other poor villagers who are living their lives day-by-day. The developers note that this will be the biggest hub in a Tomb Raider game ever, three times bigger than the hub area used in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Lara can wander around and talk to any of the villagers, many of whom will talk about settling in Paititi to hide from the dangerous Cult of Kukalkan. These people will share stories or offer up side quests. One example sees a little kid asking Lara to help him retrieve his lost dice. Lara can rest in the hub or shop the marketplaces to make purchases or trades. The demo had Lara dressed up in native garb, but new outfits can be purchased and upgraded over the course of the game. Certain parts of Paititi are under Cult of Kukalkan control and won't be available right away. They'll open up over the course of the game. In the meantime, make sure not to confront a cult guard while wearing rebel clothing, otherwise it could cause a conflict that won't go Lara's way.

Challenge tombs are also accessible through Paititi, with many of them well-hidden. One such tomb is located outside a waterfall, requiring precision platforming to reach its entrance. As was the case with Rise of the Tomb Raider, save points can be found at a tomb's entrance, for anyone who can successfully access it.

Exploration and interaction are just one piece of the Tomb Raider puzzle, as combat will be another major element of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This is where Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are either going to win people over or lose them entirely. Many key elements of Tomb Raider's combat are still in place, with Lara able to exercise stealth and fire off her bow and arrow. But the pre-E3 demo also had a little something different.

Outside an abandoned oil facility, Lara was being pursued by Trinity soldiers. At this point, the idea was to use Lara's instincts to set multiple traps. She could go from treetop to treetop, hanging enemies with her rope arrows. She could blend into plants to escape detection. She could even use Fear Arrows, crafted from certain plants native to the region, to cause the Trinity soldiers to turn on one another out of fright. If this is sounding more like a description of a Batman game, that's not entirely inaccurate. It's unknown how prevalent these sections will be in the final version of the game, but it's hard not to look at this and think that this doesn't quite fit in with the Tomb Raider aesthetic.

It's clear that there's going to be a lot to explore in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, outside of the main story. Crypts and challenge tombs will plentiful, many of which can be found from that central hub of Paititi. But what else can players expect from this final installment of the new Tomb Raider trilogy?

Come back on Monday, as Shacknews speaks to Eidos Montreal's Lead Level Designer, Arne Oehme, as we learn more about Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

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?

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