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Square Enix has announced that a new Tomb Raider game is in the works, and that it will be revealed in a "major event" set to take place sometime in 2018. And that is literally all I can tell you about it.
I'm not kidding.
Announcements of announcements aren't my favorite thing in the world, especially when they're for not-exactly-a-surprise news that a popular videogame series is getting a another sequel. I also find it amusing that a message telling fans that they'll have to wait ends with, "we simply can't wait."
And yet, there's something odd about it—something in the wording that makes me think that maybe there's more going on here than meets the eye. What if... What if there's a secret hidden in the message? What if the first letter of the first word in each sentence combined to form a word?
That little Easter egg still doesn't tell us anything new about the game, but it does appear to confirm the Shadow of the Tomb Raider title that leaked in October of last year, a rumor that solidified (although it remained unconfirmed) this past June. So at least we're not going away completely empty-handed.
(And I cannot tell a lie: Rachel Weber of Gamesradar gets credit for noticing the Shadow secret—although I'm sure I would've figured it out on my own eventually.)
It was always inevitable that Rise of the Tomb Raider would get a follow-up, and almost as inevitable that it'd be called "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" (games with "shadow" in the title are popular, you see). So it's hardly a surprise that a new leak can be added to those which seem to confirm that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is in development.
The first emerged in October, when someone noticed a fellow commuter flicking through Shadow of the Tomb Raider marketing guff on a laptop. Eight months later, and marketing guff has struck again, because this time a California-based company called Take Off appears to have jumped the gun uploading stuff onto their website, resulting in this being found:
The top line is a collection of logo options (note the image on the far right features art used to promote Rise Of..., in other words, it's placeholder). The bottom section shows a handful of key art proposals, illustrations which may serve as inspiration for the main marketing art for this third instalment.
The art has been removed from the website now, which only serves to raise my suspicions that the game definitely exists. I was surprised Shadow of the Tomb Raider didn't appear at E3 last week, but in any case, I think it's safe to say it'll come eventually.
Inspired by the work-in-progress open source OpenTomb project, Tomb Raider modder XProger has spent the past several months working on their own browser-based version of the '96 original Tomb Raider named OpenLara. It's now playable in both third and first person view.
As an engine remake, OpenLara does not recreate the entire game however its City of Vilcabamba level (level two) can be played right now—complete with bloodthirsty wolfpacks, underwater tunnel systems, and ferocious bears. A "browse level" function does however let you load the game's other levels, but I've spent all of my time with OpenLara attempting to relearn its stop/start running-jumping-ledge-catching mechanics which seem entirely archaic today.
Nonetheless, touring Lara Croft around familiar levels at higher than ever framerates—the original was locked at 30 FPS—is great fun, particularly when you can do so instantly from your browser. The ability to switch to first-person is also a nice touch and makes grizzly encounters and acrobatic leaps that little bit scarier.
If this supposed leak/over-the-shoulder peek at a commuter's laptop is to be believed, the next Tomb Raider game is to be named Shadow of the Tomb Raider (minus contributions from Rhianna Pratchett). Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation HD, on the other hand, marks the work of several TR enthusiasts who plan to reimagine Lara's fourth main series outing—now over 17 years old—with "sharper textures, higher quality objects, brand new effects and additional gameplay features."
The Last Revelation was arguably the most realised Tomb Raider of the PlayStation One era, and its HD remaster promises modern effects such as dynamic fogs, smoother shadows and high quality sprites. It's in its early stages of development, however its team, who form the collective Raiding the Globe, have already compiled a few 'before and after' shots which can be found below.
Here's the blurb as per the Raiding the Globe site:
"Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation HD allows players to experience Core Design's original and unparalleled classic game remastered with sharper textures, higher quality objects, brand new effects additional gameplay features and much more. Experience Egypt like never before, walking (and running) through ancient tombs populated with fierce traps and deadly foes. More information to be revealed. Happy Raiding!"
Crystal Dynamics has announced that Rhianna Pratchett, the lead writer of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and the 2015 sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider, has moved on to "new adventures separate from the Tomb Raider franchise."
"Rhianna was instrumental in helping us find Lara's voice in the 2013 origin story, and through Rise of the Tomb Raider she shaped Lara into the evolving heroine we know today," developer Crystal Dynamics wrote. "The entire team thanks Rhianna for her dedication and tireless efforts on the games. Please join us in wishing Rhianna the absolute best in her next adventure."
Pratchett tweeted similarly good vibes, writing, "I want to thank the @CrystalDynamics team for their dedication esp. @jstafford @josefkstories & @noahmhughes. Guys, it's been emotional. But, I like to think we did some good things. Maybe shifted the gaming landscape a wee bit. And that feels damn good."
It sounds like an amicable parting of ways, but still has to represent a loss for the series. The reboot was strongly praised for turning Lara Croft into a real character, and Rise of the Tomb Raider was selected as the winner of the 2016 Videogame Writing Award. It wasn't a solo win—lead narrative designer John Stafford, narrative designer Cameron Suey, and additional writer Philip Gelatt also got their names engraved on the trophy—but as the lead writer, her voice was far and away the one heard the loudest. Those are some big shoes to fill.
It's been 20 years since Tomb Raider turned Lara Croft into videogaming's most famous gun-toting spelunker, and to mark the moment Crystal Dynamics has released a new "20 Year Celebration" DLC pack for the most recent game in the series, Rise of the Tomb Raider. For a tenner, it will let you poke around inside Lara Croft's childhood home. defend it from hordes of the undead (and a dickish-sounding uncle), and most important of all wrap her up in a new skin that's very much "Old Lara."
"Blood Ties," in which Lara must explore Croft Manor "to reclaim her legacy and uncover a family mystery that will change her life forever," will add more than an hour of single-player story, while "Lara's Nightmare" is a scoreboard-based defense against zombies set on tearing the place up. The pack will also add a new "Extreme Survivor" difficulty, an outfit and weapon inspired by Tomb Raider 3, and five "classic Lara Croft skins," including the sharply-angled work of art seen above.
(The more I look at it, the creepier it gets.)
The DLC comes alongside a new Rise of the Tomb Raider patch that makes a number of relatively minor adjustments to the game that you can read about here. Do be aware that you'll need to have this update installed if you want to take proper advantage of the 20 Year Celebration Pack, so if you're currently in a beta stream you'll need to switch that back.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is included with the season pass, and is also available separately for $10/ 7 or as part of the $60/ 40 Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition.
A short, live-action film promoting Tomb Raider 3, thought lost, has recently been rediscovered. It was only shown once, at Tomb Raider 3's launch party in London's Natural History Museum. Having uncovered the original Digibeta tape (tape!), producer Janey de Nordwall passed it to Square Enix which has uploaded it for all to see.
It's quite, quite bizarre—all the '90s cheese without the exploding heads of Strafe. In that regard, I suppose it captures the early Lara Croft craze quite well. Full marks for effort, certainly, because there's eight minutes of the thing. I'll take this over a 20-second teaser trailer any day.
Founded in 2007, GameChanger seeks to positively impact the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses through videogames, compassion and innovation. It provides games and toys to hospitals, hosts gaming events, awards financial aid and college scholarships, and offers meaningful services directly to patients and staff in hospitals. To date, it has donated over $200,000 to cancer research, according to its website, and provided more than 17,000 videogames to hospitals, children centers, partner charities, and families.
That sounds like a pretty good cause to get behind, but if you'd like a more pragmatic reason to throw money at it, Square Enix is offering Steam codes for the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot to anyone who donates at least $1. The deal is part of the publisher's 20th anniversary celebration of the release of the original Tomb Raider, which arrived on the PC, the PlayStation (no numbers) and something called the Sega Saturn all the way back in 1996.
You can go higher if you'd like. Donating $20 or more earns the game code plus an entry into a couple of draws, one for a Rise of the Tomb Raider Collector's Edition and a Crystal Dynamics swag bag, and the other for an Xbox One, plus games and accessories. Kicking in $50 or more nets a GameChanger Gratitude Package, a Tomb Raider poster (limited to the first 25 eligible donors), and all the stuff in the previous tiers.
The $1 Tomb Raider offer is live now and runs until April 5, or while supplies last. Details and donation links are up at tombraider20gamechanger.org.
Games confront us with failure all the time. It could be the famous YOU DIED message of Dark Souls, or the unfavourable scorecard at the end of a hard-fought round of Rocket League. In the heat of the moment calm Vulcan exteriors can crack. Curses are uttered. Innocent controllers are thrown out of windows. Things can get intense.
Some games induce rage more than others. A long game of Dota 2 squandered by one error will understandably leave some participants furious, but when we started writing about the games that made us quit in anger some surprises turned up. Even a serene adventure like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter or a strategy game like Civ can trigger a moment of total despair. Here is a collection of our ragequit stories. Share your own in the comments.
About ten years ago I used to break games, controllers and keyboards on a regular basis after losing at something (without going into it, losing my Ifrit card in Final Fantasy VIII s Triple Triad to the game s awful random rule ended up costing me 30). Then, in the last few years I thought I d mellowed out, sailing through much of my twenties with only a vanquished 360 controller (vanquished by my foot—I don t remember why) to show for it. Turns out, this was delusional and I m still furious all of the time. Usually when I m playing online.
Rocket League came out last year. I must ve reinstalled that game about five or six times after having bad games and deleting it from my Steam library, and it s always for the same reason—losing when I feel I didn t deserve to, either because my teammate was rubbish or because I was (usually the latter). The worst time was when I turned my computer off at the wall after, probably, an own goal. I am a tit. I m staying away from competitive games from now on, going back to my precious little bubble of mowing down NPCs in a bid to see the closing credits of story-based games because I m too much of a baby to compete with other humans. Wah! In a similar vein, I also wasn t massively keen on the time we lost an amateur match of Dota to a surprise team of experienced players, and my measured response was to never play Dota again.
I tend to have more moments of indescribable disappointment than ragequitting these days. This happened to me with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the first-person adventure released in 2014. I was enjoying the feeling of being in that world a lot, and while I loved a few of the individual, weirder moments I encountered in that world, I didn t really like the story that much at all. I wandered into a mine, went down some stairs and a monster walked up to me and killed me without any explanation. I turned it off, uninstalled it and went to bed. It s a very mellow form of ragequitting.
Now, I ve been told there s a very easy way to get past this bit by PC Gamer s Tony Ellis, and I don t doubt it. But there was something so crushing about this seemingly random death in a game about walking through an environment and absorbing story that I just had to leave it. I didn t play games for an entire month after. I m sure it s not just Ethan Carter s fault, but I found that moment so oddly depressing that I needed a month off from the entire medium. Still, I very much enjoyed the trees and the tense atmosphere, and maybe one day I ll go back and activate the simple solution for getting past that monster. And then I ll take another month off playing games.
A lot of things explode in Nuclear Throne. Barrels. The grenades and rockets you fire out of very dangerous weapons. Worm things. Frog things. Cars. I ve died many times in Nuclear Throne, often due to one type of explosive or another. Usually that death comes swiftly and unexpectedly, and I sigh or go UGH and start up another round. But sometimes that death is annoying enough to make me mash the ESC key until I m back on my desktop to cool off. And man, nothing in Nuclear Throne has managed to piss me off more than a stupid exploding car.
The cars are just environmental hazards to avoid or use to your advantage. Shoot em and they can take out a good chunk of enemies. Stand near them when bullets are incoming, and you might be blown up yourself. Got it? Easy to understand. I never took damage from an exploding car. Until. UNTIL. Until I cleared out a level and the portal to the next level appeared near me with a boom, as it always does. Near me also happened to be near a car. And when a portal appears near a car with a boom, that car explodes. And when you re near a car and it explodes, even as you re being dragged helplessly into the portal that whisks you away to the next level, you take damage. And, in my case, die. And, also in my case, mash the ESC key so hard it will forever fear the touch of an index finger.
Fuck you, portal. Fuck you, car.
I relaunched Nuclear Throne three minutes later.
I ragequit a series. One of my favourite series, in fact, but despite knowing that I burn with the self-righteous anger of a fanboy, I won t go back to Tomb Raider. Each time I post about an impending Rise of the Tomb Raider release I secretly wish that Microsoft s exclusivity deal had been that little bit more exclusive. I retreat to a dark corner so as to escape the vile glow of other people s excitement.
I tolerated the new Tomb Raider, for a time. The blocky climbing frame formula of the previous games was ancient after all, and the series was due for a refresh, but Crystal Dynamics refreshed it so hard it became something else, namely an over-earnest story about a psychotic, angst-ridden gap year.
The open, choose-your-own-route environments had a dash of brilliance about them, but on every clifftop was a platoon to be mown down while teen Lara warbled about Bastards! in a comically bad British accent. And the actress is British! I got so sick of shooting things and failing QTEs that I left the main story in search of what I was led to believe would be a tomb to raid: The Tomb of the Lost Adventurer. It was in the name. What I got was a lone physics puzzle, but as I was willing to try anything to relive Lara s glory days at that point, I gave it a crack anyway.
The lone physics puzzle bugged. The body of a crashed plane I had to topple to make a bridge just hung in the air devoid of support. The sole remnant of Tomb Raider s heritage as a puzzler was inexplicably borked. I m done.
Sometimes I wonder what it would take for a video game to kill a person. During my senior year of college, I found Super Hexagon. I dabbled with the mobile version between classes, but didn t get serious until I could sit across from 50 inches of warping, pulsing, spiraling shapes on an obscene TV via my PC. Games rarely hold my attention for more than their running length or the first few times I hit a difficulty wall. There are just too many other interesting games to try out, and I get anxious about missing something special.
Super Hexagon consumed me. I spent hours and hours trying to beat my friends high scores on every level, and eventually unlocked the final stage, Superhexagonest. At first, it seemed impossible to survive for 60 seconds, the requirement to win a given stage. During a weekend visit back home, I ignored my family for a day, working to hit that sweet 60. Hours of attempts didn t even net a close run. Sleep was difficult that night.
Immediately after waking up, I booted up the game, still not entirely conscious. It was magic. Like some kind of sleepyboy superhuman, I hit 45 seconds with ease and kept going. Suddenly aware of my nearly perfect run, I started to wake up. 55 seconds, still going. My hands start shaking. 57 seconds and the sweat rolls in. 58 and I nearly cry out. 59 and I fuck it. Without a word, I got dressed, packed up the dogs into the pickup and drove up Elk Ridge, a mountainous forested area ten miles out of town. I brought headphones and set Boards of Canada on shuffle. My dogs were excited for the impromptu walk, and started peeing on every tree and bush they could. This was something I could control, something I could win. So I peed on their pee until my place in our little hierarchy was made clear. We walked for a while, spooked a black bear, sat on a log, and then went home. I didn t touch Super Hexagon for months.
Not only is Spelunky the rare game that makes me ragequit, it s the only game that always makes me ragequit. I never finish on a high note: if I have a good run but die, I always play again to try to best it. If I have a terrible run, I keep playing until I have a better one, but then after that better run, as I said, I keep pushing until I have another terrible one. It doesn t help that I ve never once successfully beat the game, which means every single session has ended in disappointment or frustration. And we re talking about over a thousand sessions.
What s more frustrating is that the rage is directed at myself rather than the game, as my deaths are pretty much always caused by a mistake, a stupid risk, or an error brought on by trying to be overly cautious due to a previous mistake or stupid risk. Spelunky is harsh but generally fair: I ve learned how everything works so there are no real surprises. I love it, but stink at it, and the only way I see not ragequitting it is to beat it, which I just can t seem to do. I hate you, Spelunky. Never change.
When I was a kid, a friend mercilessly pummeled me at Street Fighter 2 and then said I was a gaylord, so I threw the controller at him and power-walked out of his house. They called me sensitive back then. I don t really get too mad in competitive games anymore, though. I ve spit angry half-words at Rocket League teammates here and there, because what are they even doing, but I do it with my mic off, because I m not a jerk. I ve never left in the middle of a match, except once when my roommate started uploading a YouTube video and my ping went to hell and so I had to go throw the controller at him.
What really gets to me is Civilization V. When I ve got a sweet little empire going, and I m just about to realize my master blueprint of roads and port towns and cozy, defensible foothill settlements, some bastard like Alexander the Great rolls up to my capital with a bunch of siege engines. I ve been tinkering with trade routes and figuring a military can come later, trying to make a pretty civilization before a toothy one, and Alexander just has to pop in and kick over my sandcastle. I play this way almost every time, even though I know better. I probably Alt-F4 half the time I play Civ these days. I wonder if I wouldn t prefer to play without any other civilizations. Just me, alone, slowly covering the world with little buildings.
Ragequit moments are deliberately built into Dark Souls. As you push into a new location you steal souls from hollowed corpses that Alt-F4 d out of existence long ago. With each new difficulty spike Dark Souls dares you join them. It's clever, but it doesn't make me feel any better when things go wrong.
In fact, knowing this only makes me angry about my own anger. I'm playing right into their hands. When the Four Kings' homing purple missiles of hot bullshit one-shot me, a noise like a strangled moped emerges from my throat. I throttle my pad and grimace like a Sith lord on the bog. Sometimes I say "whyyyyyy" out loud. It is very undignified.
The burning fury in my soul can only be resolved by blaming things. I blame my ageing Xbox 360 controller, with its stunted insensitive shoulder bumpers. I blame FromSoft, for everything. I blame the laws of chance, for some reason, even though damage in Dark Souls is metered out through blows and counter-blows without need for dice rolls. I blame the bus-wide butt-cheeks of the Demon Firesage for blocking the camera during a deadly area-of-effect attack. Screw it all. Turn it off.
I ve had a stuttering relationship with Dark Souls, then. I was left so exhausted by the descent through Blight Town that I stopped playing for a few months. I put it down after attempting the opening section of Anor Londo, which has you running up and down buttresses under heavy arrow fire that knocks you to your death. But looking back, it was a broadly positive experience. Dark Souls infuriating moments are matched by euphoric highs. Even in the throes of agonising frustration, at least Dark Souls made me feel something. Few games put me through the emotional wringer in such a way.
Fuck the Bed of Chaos forever, though.
In Now Playing PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today Tom tortures poor Winston, again.
I wonder what the elevator pitch was for Tomb Raider circa 1996. Indiana Jones with guns and a T-Rex , perhaps. Lara Croft travels all over the world quipping in the Queen's english, unraveling ancient mysteries and killing enough wildlife to incur the wrath of real-world animal rights organisations. She has the extraordinary ability to flip 12 feet into the air sideways and, like Indie, remains relaxed in the face ancient magic that melts people.
There would be little more to discover about Lara Croft in the early games if it wasn't for a humble tutorial mission set in her country mansion. We're supposed to believe that Indiana Jones spends his spare hours living a bookish existence lecturing Archaeology students in Connecticut. Lara Croft prefers to return to her heavily customised (and definitely haunted) mansion to train and entertain. The textures and geometry are primitive, but Lara's mansion is an early example of environmental storytelling that puts distance between Tomb Raider and its closest influences.
I immediately loved the mansion, because to an 11 year old the idea of having an assault course in your lounge is brilliant. Returning now, I appreciate Croft manor even more. The assault course has a practical use—teaching you the jumps and shimmies you need to survive booby-trapped tombs on expedition—but it also shows how dedicated Lara is to her chosen profession. Once you've explored this multi-storey expression of independent wealth you know that she's not raiding tombs for upkeep; she's in it for the excitement and prestige. In later games she even puts a few of these priceless artifacts on display in glass cases for visitors to admire.
The mansion seems quiet when you're exploring, but there are plenty of hints that point to Lara's life as a socialite and a thrill-seeker. She has an entertainment room with a grand piano, a harp, and a large carpeted space that could serve as a ballroom at a pinch. In Tomb Raider 2 Lara hides a switch inside a topiary maze. This opens up a secret passageway to a basement full of treasure she's stolen from dead people. In Tomb Raider 3 the maze becomes a gateway to a quad bike course. The mansion goes far beyond the detail needed to simply teach players the game. It's a playground that reflects Lara's personality in a series that, back then, devoted little time for dialogue, cut scenes and other character-building devices.
Croft Manor changes across the first three games. In Tomb Raider 2 the boxes that form some small jumping puzzles in TR1 can be found in the attic, and the assault course has been moved outside. Lara is attended by Winston the flatulent butler, truly a hero among butlers. He follows Lara everywhere. In the depths of the topiary maze you might hear his gurgling bowels from the other side of a hedge as he finds his way to your side. His slow pathfinding can famously be exploited to lock him in Lara's meat freezer. In Tomb Raider 3's mansion Winston comes prepared for more bullying, dressed in full survival combat gear. Winston's development was part of the ongoing dialogue between developers and fans in the first three games. In search of new secrets, players would always find new ways to break the latest iteration of Croft Manor, using glitches to reach rooftops, balconies, and the top of the outer walls.
The Tomb Raider games moved away from Croft Manor. It became Abbingdon Manor and was burned down in Tomb Raider: Underworld. The 2013 reboot opts for a desperate, survivalist tone and sets the game in a continuous environment far away from the British countryside—perhaps in rebellion against the stupidest excesses of Tomb Raider canon, which featured evil clones of Lara and other nonsense. There's no room for Croft Manor in Lara's new world, and there's no point in the series returning purely for nostalgia's sake. Still, I think it's worth taking a moment to celebrate the enduring memories I'm sure many of us have, of keenly searching for secrets in Lara's big old house. I'll find that ghost one day.