Note: Some of the photos used throughout this article will be from previous Tomb Raider games from the same series as well as fan art to avoid repeat stills.
When I was seven years old, one of my parents (unbeknownst to the other) decided that I was finally old enough to watch the 2001 Angelina Jolie classic live action film that was adapted from the Tomb Raider games. Within the first ten minutes of the film, I knew that a lifelong obsession was in the making. Immediately after the film ended, I requested the parent whose care I was under at the time to tie my hair back into Lara’s iconic braid and began barrel rolling, somersaulting, and pretending to shoot things with my finger guns around the apartment before the credits even finished rolling. After that, I had to get my hands on more Tomb Raider content and started playing the games I was much too young to play on my little PlayStation.
The Tomb Raider series has come a long way since the first game was released in 1996. We have been adventuring with Lara Croft for over 20 years. But it can be hard to sustain a single story for that long. So developers decided to reboot the series in 2013, they decided to go back to basics and see what Lara was up to before she became the awesome explorer that we all know and love. But origin stories don’t last forever. Eventually, they just become stories. The third (and final) game in the Tomb Raider origin series is set to be released September 2018 and the fandom is abuzz with excitement over what this long-awaited game might contain. So, sit back and relax as I break down everything we know about Shadow of the Tomb Raider thanks to the 2018 E3 conference.
30 Confirmed: The Beginning Of The End
Confirmed: When this game was revealed at 2018 E3, fans were quickly made aware that this long-awaited game would be the final game in the Tomb Raider origin story series. This has sent fans imaginations wild as they tried to narrow down exactly what could happen during this yet to be released game that could cause this chapter of Lara’s story to come to a close. Unfortunately, each and every single one of these theories are simply theories. All we know for sure is that this game will feature Lara’s last stand as a naive and relatively inexperienced adventurer.
29 Theory: The Mysterious Multiplayer Mode
When developers hinted at the possible inclusion of a multiplayer mode at the 2018 E3 convention, fans were hesitant, to say the least. Though other games have had success with multiplayer or co-op formats, single protagonist story-based games like the Tomb Raider series just do not tend to fit the format.
And many fans are beginning to get sick of the fact that so many modern games try to force players online.
The most popular rumour states that multiplayer mode will simply allow a friend to play as Jonah (or another companion) to accompany Lara at certain parts in the game. But all of these fears have yet to be confirmed nor denied by developers, so all we can do is sit back and pray that they are completely unfounded.
28 Confirmed: Changing The Combat
Though the stories, character developments, and lore of the Tomb Raider world is my favourite aspect of the series, many other people put those discs into their gaming systems to watch the skilled and beautiful Lara Croft get her enemies.
There is nothing wrong with preferring a healthy dose of combat to the more theatrical elements of a game.
And combat fans should get excited because trailers and gameplay clips shown at E3 reveal that this game has taken combat to a whole new level. Lara is leaving her frantic “fight for your life” combat style behind and has adopted a more brutal and smooth style as we delve further into her origin story.
27 Theory: Uncharted Parallels
Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone. Any game featuring a female protagonist will find itself being compared to similar male driven games. The modern Lara has found herself constantly being compared to the protagonist from the Uncharted games (even though Lara is driven by her compassion and struggles with the results of her necessary actions at points while Drake could knock an enemy off and then crack a joke in the same breath. A rumour stating that we will see a callous and amoral Lara in this final installation has been floating around the internet and I, for one, hope it's true.
26 Confirmed: Same Old Gameplay
Though the combat has been amped up and the game might feature a very different Lara than we’ve come to know and love, fans of the series need not worry. E3 attendees and online trailers confirm that the classic elements of this game and its controls have remained intact in this final game.
Button functions, Lara’s basic movements, exploration/adventure styles, and other base level aspects of the game with remain familiar to the fans.
Which is honestly a good thing. I would advise all game developers out there to avoid drastically changing basic elements of their games halfway through a series, unless fans respectfully request it, of course.
25 Theory: Square Enix Doesn't Care About Feelings
As fans may have noticed, Lara Croft’s origin story has gotten progressively darker as it continues on. The 2013 game (which kicked off this new wave of Tomb Raider games) featured a bright-eyed Lara who eagerly wanted to follow in her late father's footsteps who quickly becomes increasingly troubled (for lack of a better word) as she navigated the true horrors of her new profession as the series went on. So fans found themselves morbidly curious at the state that Lara would be in by the time that the final game in the series rolls around. Many believe that Lara will continue on this downward spiral throughout the game until (hopefully) something snaps her out of it. Hopefully that something is not too tragic.
24 Confirmed: Under The Sea
Sometimes when fans band together to get an aspect of a beloved game changed, they can accomplish great things (so long as they are respectful to the developers during this process). One of the best aspects of the technical gameplay of the Tomb Raider origin series are those brief levels involving water.
These aquatic levels often include Lara swimming, breaking through small gaps in rocks, and exploring small underwater worlds.
But the fans decided that that was not enough and rallied together to get developers to expand the underwater portions of the world in upcoming games. And those cries were not unheard for E3 gameplay demos revealed numerous underwater levels which are as glorious and claustrophobic as ever.
23 Theory: The Best Is Yet To Come
When making a franchise of any sort (be it a film, book, or game franchise) it is always a good idea to raise the quality throughout the series and make sure that the final installment is the best one yet. No one wants to spend hours on a game that falters in its final acts. And considering the fact that the budget for Shadow of the Tomb Raider had a budget of roughly 100 million dollars, many fans believe that this game will be the best installment in the already fantastic series.
22 Confirmed: Improper Priorities
Though Lara may not appear as the amoral character that the internet has reported might be coming our way, E3 gameplay trailers have revealed that a comparatively careless Lara will be featured in this final game.
From what we’ve seen of the game from E3 gameplay clips and teasers, Lara’s focus on raiding tombs and stopping enemies will cost lives to be lost.
Previous Lara’s would be absolutely heartbroken at the thought that their actions affected civilians but this Lara is reportedly shaken but not enough to steer her away from her goals. I look forward to watching her character evolve in this last installation.
21 Theory: The Moment Of Truth
Though no official source has confirmed this, the information that we currently have of the increased brutality of the combat, addition of stealth skills, brutal predators, Lara’s skewed morality, and the mention of on screen civilian casualties makes it seem as though that this will be the darkest game (plot wise, tone wise, and even emotionally) in the entire series. And that is saying a lot considering the subject matter of the first two games. Just think about the fact that the game that includes wading through human remains in fact not the darkest game in the series, by far. I cannot wait.
20 Confirmed: The Stakes Are High
Confirmed: One of the most difficult aspects of the Tomb Raider games has always been the simple task of trying to stay alive. Lara Croft seems like a total danger magnet and keeping her alive can be an exceptionally arduous task.
Well, that task just got a lot harder to achieve as developers confirmed at E3 that “literally everything around you can [end] you.”
Apparently, survival will be harder than ever as the entire environment has been designed with the sole purpose of trying to end Lara. Are you fit for the challenge?
19 Theory: "We Are Not So Different, You And I"
We know that this game features a much darker environment (and much more brutal Lara) than we’ve ever seen before. And we know that this game will feature the lethal consequences of Lara’s mistakes and obsessions. But what is the extent of this moral shift in Lara and how will her enemies react to her changes? There is a rumour floating around that Trinity might even try to recruit Lara (either ironically, as an attempt to mock how hard she has fallen, or earnestly). If this occurs, will this be the event that finally shows Lara the errors of her ways?
18 Confirmed: Slow And Stealthy
When raiding tombs, one needs to be careful. One misstep or wrong move could lead to one’s immediate and painful demise. Coft could also benefit from some careful and stealthy movements when avoiding the groups of villains that she consistently runs into on her journeys. As a result of the increased stakes in this final game, stealth will be a huge part of this installment in the series. Lara will have new interactions with the world which will allow her to shimmy sneakily across walls, sneak around camps, and take her stealth skills to a whole new level.
17 Theory: Bigger And Badder Than Ever
There is a rumour floating around the interwebs that Shadow of The Tomb Raider will be released in a format which can support “4K”/30fps and will even be able to run 1080p/60fps on the PS4 PRO and the Xbox One X.
That’s a big deal because the average game runs 720p/30fs.
That is literally double the frames per second. Very few console games ever comes close to that number. Increasing the frames per second will provide gamers with a smoother gameplay and who could turn their nose up at that.
16 Confirmed: The Fate Of The World Rests On Lara
Though the plots of the Tomb Raider games tend to revolve around survival and keeping Trinity away from valuable (and potentially dangerous) items across the world, this final installment truly has raised the stakes for Lara and company. E3 gameplay clips and demos revealed that the core story of this game will revolve around Lara having to single-handedly stop a literal Mayan apocalypse from taking place and destroying the entire world. I’m sorry, what? Jesus. Good luck, Lara. You’re going to need it.
15 Theory: The Face Of A Hero
What do you get when you combine an increasingly dark and complex plot with a hero whose goals have begun to overshadow all else? Answer: You get a wonderfully complex and well rounded character.
Though I love previous versions of Lara, her cookie cutter hero personality can make both her and the outcomes of her stories quite predictable.
If the rumours of her amoral behaviour are true then we could be meeting a dynamic, multifaceted, and unpredictable Lara, the likes of which we have never seen before.
14 Confirmed: Piece Of The Puzzle
Never fear, puzzle loving gamers out there. For the good people of the internet have confirmed that there will be a plethora of puzzle related fun in the upcoming Tomb Raider game. Though the story based elements of the beloved franchise can be thrilling and are, personally, the best part of the game, there is just something so satisfying about solving a particularly difficult puzzle. Though, rest assured, the increased puzzles won’t overpower the game. According to video game journalists online, the puzzle to story ratio is near perfect and neither element seems to overpower the other.
13 Theory: Inciting Incidents And The End Of The Origin
The original Tomb Raider games (as well as the films) seem to portray Lara as a calm, cool, and collected adventurer that laughs in the face of danger (supernatural or otherwise). But the Lara we meet in the origin stories is often frazzled, desperate, and terrified as she treks through the horrors that await her. So how does Lara go from a plucky adventurer to this weathered champion of the tombs? Well, the fandom is thinking that this change may lie in the final installment in the origin series. The current belief is that something intense is going to happen to Lara (be it a personal sacrifice, failure, or the simple accumulation of trauma) that will harden her and turn her into the adventurer we first met twenty years ago.
12 Confirmed: Prey No More
The main goal that drives players through the earlier installments in the Tomb Raider origin series has been to survive. Lara has needed to evade capture, defeat the animals that hunt her down, and survive the obstacles in her path. But things have taken a slightly different direction this time around. This time, it's Lara who is the true predator. Lara has learned how to sneak past her enemies and that eliminating them as quickly as possible is the best way to get ahead. This version of Lara is quick, lethal, and ready to do whatever it takes to win.
11 Theory: Take A Bow
Calling all fans of the voice actress Camilla Luddington, this may be her last role in the series. Hold on to your pitchforks because this may not be the drama-inducing scandal that the gossip sites of the internet would make it out to be. If Camilla is in fact leaving the game series it is most likely not due to any personal dramas or other issues. Camilla is the voice of a young Lara who is navigating through her first few missions. Since this game is the final game in this series, we will (most likely) not see Lara again until much later in her life and career. So it only makes sense that a new voice actor be used for her older and more experienced self.
10 Confirmed: Animal Husbandry
For those of you who loved constantly having to evade and escape the never ending barrage of wild animals in the previous installments in the Tomb Raider series, you are in luck. For this game will have far more big bad animals than ever before. Jungle animals thirsty for a healthy dose of Lara blood will hunt you down across the country and the addition of a more expansive underwater world means that danger lurks below as well. Luckily Lara’s improved combat style should make it much easier to fight off these never ending hoards of overpowered predators.
9 Theory: Loss And Growth
It comes as no secret nor surprise to fans of the series that Lara has been through her fair share of nonsense. One might say that her life went downhill when she and her crew washed up on the beaches of that cursed Japanese island in the first origin series game. But, as her backstory is further revealed, one might say that Lara’s life has been hectic for quite some time now. And she hasn’t done anything about it. Now the trauma is adding up and the people of the internet believe that the consequences of the past few years in Lara’s life will collapse on her sooner or later.
8 Confirmed: Familiar Villains
When something is not broken, there is no need to fix it. If a series has successfully established a perfect villain the ticks all of the boxes on the antagonist check list, then there is no need to bring in another enemy so late in the game. Which is exactly why the final game in the Tomb Raider origin series will, once again, feature Lara facing off against her infamous rivals: the people of Trinity. Hopefully, they finally get what's coming to them in this final chapter.
7 Theory: Final Fantasy X Tomb Raider
Though it has not been officially confirmed, developers have released a possible teaser to a crossover game that would combine the Tomb Raider universe with the Final Fantasy universe. Due to the extreme differences in style, plot, and character types, no one has any idea what the final product will look or be like. But the combination of these two powerhouses in the gaming world has everyone incredibly excited. What will the story be like? Will the game connect to either established universes?
6 Confirmed: Mature And Emotional Content Ahead
Lara may not be the most professional archeologist at this point in her story, but she seems to know what she’s doing most of the time. That is, when she isn’t making the most rudimentary mistakes and committing the most cardinal tomb raiding sin there is. That’s right, it has been confirmed that Miss Lara Croft decides to steal an ancient relic in the upcoming game. This act has massive consequences as it immediately leads to a massive flash flood which destroys a small local village and causes a large amount of civilian casualties. Including the on screen demise of a small child. Way to go, Lara.
5 Theory: Jonah's Last Stand
It comes as no surprise that this game contains a morally questionable Lara whose actions put others at risk. And there is no better way than to shake some sense into someone who has steered away from their true selves and goals than by having a close friend call them out. The popular consensus is that this game will feature a sequence in which Jonah calls Lara out for her mistakes and she doesn’t listen. Jonah will continue to protect her, as always, and Lara’s increased goal orientated tunnel vision will result in Jonah’s demise, which will make her finally see the error of her ways.
4 Confirmed: Say Goodbye To Crystal Dynamics
It is a sad day for fans of the Crystal Dynamics development team for they did not work on this final installment in the Tomb Raider series. Instead, Square Enix and Edios Montreal will be stepping up to bat and fully undertaking the task of developing the entire game themselves. Though from everything we’ve seen from the game to date (both online and from E3), there is no reason to think that there will be a downgrade in the quality of this game from previous games in the series.
3 Theory: In The Wrong
Though video game convention would have us to believe that the usually morally upright Lara Croft will see the errors of her ways and snap out of her goal orientated destruction, it is the final game in the origin story and could honestly go other way. Though it would go against the conventional narrative to have Lara allow the quest to finish her fathers mission to consume her (regardless of the consequences to others), it would make for an incredibly compelling and unpredictable story. Rumours suggest that the story will follow convention and Lara will finally bask in that hero filled light of morality yet again.
2 Confirmed: Bringing Tears To Our Eyes
Those who were lucky enough to attend E3 were absolutely blown away when Square Enix developers revealed visuals from this unreleased game. Though gamers are aware that they need to take gameplay clips with a giant grain of salt as the real thing rarely lives up to the promises given in E3 demos, the clips shown were visually stunning. Even the trailers released online depict smooth graphics and textures so beautiful that reality pales in comparison to these rendered worlds. Though I would never want to live in one of these hectic worlds that Lara battles through, I wouldn't mind using the landscapes as a screensaver from the comfort of my own cult-free home.
1 Theory: A Chance At Villainy
This article has already covered the fact that Lara’s morality has been reported to be a bit more blurry than normal in this upcoming game but there is an unpopular rumour floating around that states it might go further than that. What if Lara goes full Trinity and decides that the collection of antiquities is more important than the lives of others and allows the attempt to accomplish her fathers unfinished goals to entirely consume her? Though this rumour has not picked up a lot of steam in the online community, it has a special place in my heart and that is why it has been included on this list.