No offense to my old friend Meagan Marie, who is a senior community manager at Crystal Dynamics for the Tomb Raider series and whom I love immensely, but I am not at all impressed with the latest Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailers that dropped at E3 2018. It looks like a visually impressive game, but it looks like a game that I have seen before where none of the danger or actions looks exciting or intriguing but rather familiar and repetitive. The more I look at the trailer and try to analyze what I am seeing the more I see something I feel the last two games have already presented me with before.
And yes, I know this is another game in a long line of games in this storied franchise and there is supposed to be some kind of gameplay and thematic cohesiveness to them, but there also has to be some ingenuity and spark between each game to keep them from feeling like cookie cutter cutouts of each other, and I am not getting that from this game. I was excited for the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 and was pleasantly surprised with it. I was optimistic for Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015 but started to feel a bit let down with the series despite a strong story. Now, I’m looking at the trailers for Shadow of the Tomb Raider and I just feel blah, again, despite a strong looking story.
If story driven narrative action games are what Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are going for, that’s great, but I always felt that the Tomb Raider series should be more action than story – but that could just be my personal feelings with the franchise. And to do that, I need to see some variety when it comes to gameplay within the series instead of gameplay that I have seemingly done time and again in the series with no differentiating between them. I will say that at least this newest Tomb Raider series seems more involved and mature than the last version of Tomb Raider that existed before the reboot, but I was expecting more when the reboot finally reignited the flame under the franchise.
I may be expecting a bit much from a series that has been around since 1996, but other series have been around much longer and have managed to stay fresh and innovative during that same period – and I expect no less from Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, and the Tomb Raider series. I am a huge fan of that series, of that character; my love for the Lara Croft character runs deep, and as a fan I believe that she needs and deserves more than just repetitive gameplay. But we’ll see. Ultimately Shadow of the Tomb Raider is on my radar and I will end up playing the game when it is released, I just know that my expectations for this franchise are more than they are for most others.