Without Crystal Dynamics, it’s possible that Tomb Raider wouldn’t be around today. After struggling for years under the stewardship of Core Design, the series moved to Crystal Dynamics, who breathed new life into the franchise with the so-called Tomb Raider Trilogy. These three games (Tomb Raider: Legends, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and Tomb Raider: Underworld) reinvented the classic jungle-crawler by introducing modern controls, better level design, and updated graphics. For the first time since the mid-90s, Tomb Raider felt fresh.
Crystal Dynamics’ recent reboot took things even further. The last-generation Tomb Raider reinvention wasn’t just a bold step forward for the series, it was one of the best games of 2013, with fast-paced action and a gripping story that finally lived up to the series’ blockbuster reputation. The game didn’t sell as well as Square Enix would’ve liked, but Crystal Dynamics did its job. Tomb Raider is a household name again.
As such, Tomb Raider’s upcoming sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, has some big expectations to live up to. Square Enix already caused a minor controversy when it announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be a timed Xbox One exclusive. Still, the game is shaping up to be something special, with a chilly Siberian setting and a renewed focus on the series’ titular tomb raiding. Crystal Dynamics has a big task ahead, which is why the company recently added two immensely talented developers to the already-impressive Tomb Raider team.
Crystal Dynamics’ first new recruit is Tore Blystad, a ten year veteran of IO Interactive. Most recently, Blystad served as the game director on Hitman: Absolution; he joins Crystal Dynamics as the Performance Director. Nate Wells joins him as the studio’s new Environmental Art Director. Previously, Wells worked at Irrational Games, where he designed BioShock’s iconic Big Daddy, and Naughty Dog, where he was the lead artist on The Last of Us.
That’s a solid list of credits, and both Blystad and Wells should serve Crystal Dynamics well going forward. Tomb Raider is one of the biggest brands not just in video games, but pop culture in general, and it’s encouraging to see Crystal Dynamics putting together a team that lives up to Lara Croft’s considerable star power. At long last, Tomb Raider is the juggernaut it was always meant to be, and Crystal Dynamics seems intent on keeping it that way for many years to come.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a holiday 2015 exclusive for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Source: Crystal Dynamics