Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the third entry in the rebooted franchise with Lara continuing her adventures as a more matured explorer. I was luckily flown out by Square Enix to a special reveal event for the game in Montreal, home of the developing studio Eidos which took over series production from Crystal Dynamics. At the event there was a great reception which helped set the tone for the experience. There was an aurora of fog that layered the floor and a large presentation area.
This is where we were treated to the initial trailer and some setup details for the hour of hands-on gameplay that was available. This was followed by some interviews so look forward to a number of articles based on this event and the experience. For now I’ll mostly focus on initial thoughts in regards to the time I had playing the game. To start this was played on Xbox One X at 4k 30fps with HDR enabled. This is a similar max setting to what Rise of the Tomb Raider had when it became an enhanced release. I anticipate similar resolution settings at launch and have more details to share later about a high frame rate option.
Keep in mind, as I reported prior that Shadow will be Xbox One X enhanced upon release. The demo we were able to play was about fifty minutes into the general narrative. It was the same flawless mix of gameplay and cinematics that fans have come to expect from the rebooted franchise. Things have changed a lot since the end of the last game as Lara seems unhinged and out for vengeance. With that she also presents a greater physical presence being far more muscular than ever before and back with new tricks. The most visible during our play time was the improved rappel system for swinging and lowering Lara down to surfaces. With Shadow of the Tomb Raider we’re sent to South America where the Mayan Apocalypse will play a big part of the narrative.
There’s a larger theme of just who she will become. There are consequences and for the first time, she’s the cause of problems and not just reacting to the issues around her. It’s a big change and refreshing as we’re going to see an emotionally charged tale of what her choices mean to those around her. Jonah is back, he’s changed too yet still loyal. They both have their own way of doing things and he’s certainly more present this time around. There’s honestly a lot to cover as an hour is a significant amount of time with a game, I’m usually used to the constraints of ten to fifteen minutes at conventions.
Going back to the setting things open with a determined Lara following a lead throughout a very decorated Mexican town. It then opens up more as the people are left behind and a jungle takes over. To quickly pause prior to jumping into the jungle, it was odd yet great to see her interact with people as she’s often in quiet secluded areas of the world. The city was filled with life and had so many smaller elements to it. One of the key aspects of focus for the development team with this third entry is how you will blend into the jungle. It’s to be used like a weapon, providing cover unlike anything before and filled with sneaky ways of doing things.
I was able to eliminate a number of enemies here and honestly it feels familiar in that regard whether I was wielding the bow or some guns that weren’t held together by tape for once. Lara has another new outfit for this terrain and it feels somewhat classic being what I’d call badass battle ready gear. After a brief forest tour it was right into an underground area for some climbing, minor puzzle solving and the collection of a special artifact. The thing Trinity is after and we obviously want it more. It was a really smooth and largely polished experience throughout.
It looks gorgeous in 4k and I’m not surprised after seeing the enhancement for Rise. I’m going light on details for the latter portion as I really don’t want to potentially spoil anything, Narrative is key here and as a fan I’ve really enjoyed that aspect in the rebooted series. I was really happy with what I got to play and am eager to see more. I would imagine there will be another build at E3 which I’ll be sure to check out. Keep an eye out for additional articles and a few interviews for Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Read our Shadow of the Tomb Raider Enhancement Details
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