Lara Croft has undergone quite the transformation throughout the origins trilogy that was kickstarted by Crystal Dynamics and wraps up next month with Eidos Montreal's Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
We saw the game one more time ahead of its launch on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and you can read our thoughts on the matter right here, and while we were there we also had the opportunity to talk to narrative lead Jason Dozois and lead game designer Heath Smith. The pair had lots to tell us about the next entry in the long-running series, but the thing that we found most interesting was how classic Tomb Raider staples informed some of the challenges in the upcoming jungle adventure.
"One of the primary reasons we chose the jungle was to enable that growth because she was so powerful at the end of [Rise of the Tomb Raider]," Smith told Gamereactor when we met in London. "She conquered a lot of things so we had to really think about where can we put her that she hasn't conquered and she hasn't survived, and the jungle was the perfect setting."
"We also took a lot of inspiration from the classic Tomb Raider. So we thought: this is the third game in the origin trilogy, she's becoming this tomb raider she's meant to be. Like a reinterpretation of that original, classic Tomb Raider. And what could she do in those games that she can't do yet, that she hasn't faced yet? So underwater was a big one, and also repelling, spelunking, wall-running - these classic moves."
Smith continued: "But then we wanted to, of course, reinterpret it with the survival lens, the fear lens that we have for this game. So that was one of the ways we tried to progress her abilities. Also, the combat itself fundamentally changes when you're in the jungle because it's occluded and you have to use the environment to survive, and that enabled us to push the combat forward and have a full stealth experience."
"However, what was interesting about that was we tried to do a stealth experience and we realised very early on that Tomb Raider ... it's all about movement in combat. It's even, in fact, in classic Tomb Raider when you would lock-on and circle-strafe around the enemy, you were always rewarded for keeping your movement because this is Lara; she's athletic, she's acrobatic. So very early on when we were trying to figure out what is jungle stealth combat, it's not just waiting in a tree forever - you will be found, right? So we try to create challenges, enemies, ingredients that encourage the player to move."
"So you'll notice all the vine walls and canopy, it's creating a fluid, contiguous traversal for the player and if you move and reposition - what we call "strike and disappear" - become one with the environment, this is really a fantasy of becoming a predator ... In fact, she even has an encounter with a jaguar early in the game and she realises: I need to become that jaguar to survive."
For a more detailed look at the growth and development of Lara Croft as a character why not check out our recent article: More than a Tomb Raider: The Growth of Lara Croft.