Last month, Tomb Raider fans got a brief look at the combat and action set-pieces of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This month, Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics are giving fans a better look at the other half of the game. The current iteration of Tomb Raider certainly thrives on combat, but its exploration and puzzle elements are just as important. The minds behind the project realize this and have made some important changes to further emphasize them this time around.
It would seem that Shadow of the Tomb Raider's $75 million-plus budget is being put to good use. The game features a massive hub city, "Paititi," wherein Lara can barter for gear, upgrade her translation abilities, and take on side quests from the locals. When bartering, Lara can use what she's found in the nearby tombs and crypts to trade for crafting materials, weapons, and outfits. It's a tough jungle out there, so Lara is going to have to gather as much as she can. One can never know what might come in handy whilst delving into a crumbling tomb.
When dealing with the inhabitants of Shadow of the Tomb Raider's hub city, players will have the option to speak to locals in their native language. All it takes is a quick adjustment in the options menu. Otherwise, they'll always speak to Lara in the player's default language.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider can potentially be the hardest game in the series so far, but that too will be left entirely up to the players. When out in the jungle for either a main story mission or chasing a side quest reward, Lara will inevitably encounter one of the many crypts and challenge tombs dotting the area. Crypts are now as large as challenge tombs used to be, and challenge tombs appear to be on another level entirely.
To help players enjoy these experiences on their own terms, difficulty has been broken into three categories: Exploration, Combat, and Puzzles. Each of these settings can be set independently to "easy", "normal", or "hard" and will tweak how players are confronted with each. For example, the "hard" exploration setting removes the white paint used to indicate scalable ledges.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider appears to be shaping up quite nicely so far. Gameplay-wise it'll likely be at least as good as its predecessors. The question is: will it actually manage to surpass them?
Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 14.