Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks set to take Lara down to even greater depths than ever before, with her own actions in her single-minded fight against Trinity the cause of so much pain. We sank a few hours into its opening as Lara and Jonah travel through the jungles of Peru in search of a lost city.
We’ve got a more general preview of our early journey for you to check out, but here’s a bonus set of ten things we learnt and did along the way.
Learn new traversal techniques
Lara Croft has always been about pulling off implausible and death defying acts of acrobatic traversal, but Shadow of the Tomb Raider has found ways to take this to even greater extremes. One key new trick is being able to seamlessly move from having her climbing axe implanted in soft rock to rappelling down on lengths of rope that make me think Lara is actually some kind of rope spider-lady.
This leads to a couple of other tricks, like then being able to then pendulum back and forth along walls, or leap, throw her axe at some soft rock and then rappel down. Add it in alongside all of the existing axe grapple moves and wide array acrobatics, and there’s some pretty great moments just in getting around the world.
One thing’s for certain, you’re going to need every trick in the book to overcome some of the more dynamic puzzles and tombs in the game…
Avoid dressing up in a jaguar skin bikini
There’s plenty of playing dress up in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but Lara’s greatest accomplishment here isn’t blending in and ingratiating herself with the citizens of Paititi, it’s in managing to avoid wearing jaguar fur in an overly sexual, Tarzan and Jane kind of way.
Acting purely out of self defence, it must be said, she’s forced to kill jaguars that would like to take a big bite out of her, but before Jonah can say “Lara, I’m glad you didn’t get nommed!” she’s already fashioning the Jaguar’s pelt into clothing. Rather than a fuzzy bikini, it’s a pair of leg warmers and short cloak that should help to keep the chill off. Of course, she’s rolling around in the mud all of twenty seconds later…
There’s gameplay to this as well. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, you can switch both tops and bottoms separately, giving different perks and benefits from these varying combos.
Take a nice mud bath in the jungle
Not so much about keeping her skin looking youthful and more about blending into the jungle like a sneaky little mud monster, Lara can now cover herself from head to toe in wet mud and hide in exposed banks and walls mud and roots.
It’s a big part of her new ability to hit and fade in combat situations, where she can break off from combat, lose the AI hunting for her and going back to a stealthier approach. Considering she’s basically mud hiding in mud, it’s pretty damn effective!
Be very sneaky, and even more stabby
Lara is Brutal with a capital ‘B’in this game. Seriously, she fights like an absolute demon, striking from the shrubbery, the trees, the mud banks, doing so with vicious melee attacks, leaping takedowns and more. There’s absolutely no holding back.
Maybe she shares a kind of kinship with a few other fictional characters that have lost parents and beloved relatives, because she strike from the trees with bow and arrow in different ways. You eventually get hallucinogenic arrows that can turn enemies on each other, sowing confusing in their ranks, but right from the off, you can use the tether arrows to hook an enemy, reel them in and leave them hanging from a tree. If that wasn’t grim enough, a few character upgrades down the road this can get even more visceral.
They say that you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Lara might leave Trinity’s goons thinking differently…
Face down a fearless frog
Perhaps these little blue frogs have no natural predators in the jungles of Peru? They happily chill out as Lara passes through, and don’t even leap away if you stand right next to them, staring them down. They clearly have no concept of danger and what a bow and arrow is, though in fairness, not many frogs do!
Anyway, I’m sorry, Mr. Frog.
Awkwardly talk to the locals
Look, Lara isn’t a people person. She never has been since the reboot and might never be in this run of games, with her only real friend in the world being Jonah who sticks with her through thick and thin. As the pair of them stumble into a shanty town in the middle of the jungle, Lara’s intent on scouting out some nearby ruins, leaving Jonah behind, and she has to talk to some of the locals in order to do so.
I made it a bit awkward, slowly backing away from them with Lara locked into facing them until they stop talking.
Be Jonah’s perfect(-ish) wingman
She might not be great at talking to people, but she’s not blind to emotions. When Jonah’s in with a shot with someone they meet on their travels, Lara knows the perfect time to exit stage left and let them get to know each other. That doesn’t mean I can’t make their drinks a bit weird as well, standing and staring as Abby asks if there’s anything between Jonah and Lara… Awkward!
Eat some “special” berries
You know what? Maybe Lara just needs a little help to loosen up a bit? No, she doesn’t go as far as to lick the blue frogs, but she does find some berries with rather interesting side-effects. If you’re on a hardcore playthrough that turns off the Survivor Sense, these Perception berries and herbs are a different slightly more natural way of adding the ability to highlight all the other berries, animals and other resources for you in the world.
Uncover a lost civilisation
The people of Paititi have lived in isolation for thousands of years, and it’s from a handful of inconclusive clues and following her gut that Lara finds them before Trinity does. Probably expecting some ruins, she instead finds a city full of its own mystery, intrigue and problems. It’s a real centrepiece for the game, acting as the largest and most in depth hub of the series, spreading out to surrounding environments full of secrets to find, challenge tombs to take on, and so on.
Along the way, she’ll help the local citizens, taking on missions and bringing relics and discoveries back to those to whom they belong. Maybe she’ll learn about making little small talk in the process?
Become the Tomb Raider… again!
Yup, this is the third and final part of a origin story trilogy for Lara Croft and Tomb Raider. Where the first game dropped her into the deep end and taught her how to survive, the second taught her all the skills to be the Tomb Raider, this game is about understanding the responsibility of being the Tomb Raider. It’s her folly that sets of a chain reaction of events that only she can then resolve. However it ends, there’s no more origin story to tell!
That’s your lot. There’s literally nothing else to see or do in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. OK, if you doubt me (and you probably should) make sure to catch our hands on preview with the game’s opening four hours. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is out on PS4, Xbox One and PC on 14th September.