With Shadow of the Tomb Raider releasing in just a couple of months on September 14th, there’s not a lot of time to get ready for when it drops. Whether you’ve never played the older games or just want a refresher, Rise of the Tomb Raider, the new game’s predecessor, is the best place to look at how to play the next release. After the E3 glimpse of Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s gameplay, it becomes clear that many of the series’ core mechanics haven’t changed, and because of it, it’s a fair bet that much of what’s known will still hold true…but that doesn’t help if you haven’t played the game since the week it was released. 2015 was a long time ago, after all.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is available for purchase through Xbox, Playstation, and Steam. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is available for preorder through Xbox, Playstation, Steam, Gamestop, Amazon, and Square Enix.
1. Remember Your Options
Both previous Tomb Raider games have slowly introduced new abilities and weapons, which makes for an exciting story progression, but sometimes there can be so many that you forget exactly what's attached to your shotgun. Was it a grenade launcher, or was that where your new exploding bullets go? Can you swing from that rope, or do you just shoot an arrow into it? Perhaps Shadow will figure out how to fix that, but it wouldn’t hurt to be mindful of your options. And there are so many wonderful options.
2. Draw That Bowstring
Lara Croft has a bow. She’s always had a bow, right? Since 1996? No? Even so, the image of Lara practicing archery had become iconic, and for good reason. Despite the more advanced, sophisticated weapons she gains in later levels of her new games, there’s always a reason to come back to that bow, whether it’s stealth, increased XP for headshots, or the upgraded special arrows. With the new art and gameplay there’s absolutely no reason to think that Shadow will change this, so it’s always worth remembering: upgrade your bow and keep it close.
3. Make Friends with the Locals
Since there were no locals to speak of at Yamatai, this was really only a feature with Rise of the Tomb Raider, but interactions with the Remnant survivors were limited to a handful of missions delivered by NPCS who rarely had a personality of their own. Developers have promised much more interaction with the world around Lara this time, so remembering to talk to characters is going to be key—they’re likely going to provide experience, missions, and more. The Remnant had secrets to uncover despite repetitive dialogue, and with the promised expansion of the NPCS, keeping on the lookout will be more satisfying this time aruund.
4. Raid Those Tombs
You’d think this would go without saying, but tombs in the new series are usually optional, and so many players pass them by in their quest to continue the storyline. However, they contain important skills and abilities that Lara, last time, could use in her Siberian quest. Lara is getting closer and closer to her full actualization of becoming the “Tomb Raider” (three games in, but that’s neither here nor there), and so not skipping those tombs will become even more essential.
5. Surviv(al Instinct)
Survival Instinct is a blessing and a curse. You see your enemies and, with a couple upgrades, your animal prey, but in return, the world is seen through shades of gray for a majority of the game. Another feature that would do nicely improved, it’s not likely to be completely gone either way, and so its importance cannot be understated. It helps you find collectibles for completion and experience, and when you’re in stealth, it differentiates between which enemies are safe to take out without their friends noticing and which ones will cause alarm if killed. At full capacity it can show you the outline of deer and other animals and even the location of their hearts and their footprints as they run. Survival Instinct allows Lara to see into the beyond. Magic? Probably. Indispensible? Definitely.
6. Get Your Sea Legs Ready
Rise of the Tomb Raider offered limited underwater exploration, but the next game is promised full immersion, and so it’s not the reboots to look to for help with this, but the last set of Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider games, namely, Tomb Raider: Underworld. While the controls for the underwater segments can often feel clunky, they certainly had Lara deep-sea diving, and dipping back into the old games could be useful to, at the very least, nostalgically remember what it was like when Lara was used to pulling a wetsuit on.
7. Crafting Kills
Crafting kills others, that is. Rise of the Tomb Raider had a greatly improved crafting system over the 2013 game, and assuming Shadow can recognize a successful mechanic, they’ll include and improve on it. Crafting was both fun and intuitive before, and having just a few special bullets or poison arrows it could make or break an encounter, especially if it was with the more dangerous wildlife (read: that grizzly). It’s craft or be…crafted?
8. Enjoy Yourself!
Finally, take your time to smell the roses. It’s tempting to activate survival instinct all the time, but it washes out the scenery and turns everything into a blur of gray. If it's anything like the last game, it’ll be a visual delight to look at. There are some incredible views to be had, especially during the Maya Apocalypse, so why not take a moment to pause saving the world and just enjoy how nice it looks while it's burning?