Ok, I’m going to be honest here: I’m still excited from my hands-on with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Getting to explore these new, terrifying tombs first-hand was a treat, but I couldn’t help but want a little more, especially after hearing that the upcoming game would feature jungle warfare. The prospect of stealth combat, and of Lara intelligently using the jungle itself against Trinity was too enticing an idea to put aside. While I haven’t gotten to experience jungle warfare myself, I did get to see some gameplay footage depicting the kind of mayhem we’d get to experience when Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases this September.
As we’ve already seen, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is gorgeously cinematic, and Lara uses the plethora of resources and distractions, including thick foliage, jungle sounds, and even plants and venom, to her advantage. This demo really gave us a first, up-close look at the smart and resourceful Lara we can expect to see dominating the jungle. Simple stealth is only half the game; you’ll be spending a lot of time identifying useful resources, harvesting them, then crafting useful items. A beneficial plant can boost your senses, alerting you to danger more quickly, while a fear arrow, crafted from the powerful hallucinogen of one of the Amazon’s native amphibians, can cause an enemy to see things which aren’t really there, creating a useful distraction at worst, and causing him to open fire on one of his allies at best.
Combat has also evolved; you can use a special mode to judge just how isolated Lara’s enemies are, and use this to strike at an ideal time, allowing Lara to make a kill and melt back into the jungle foliage undetected. Now that killing one enemy doesn’t automatically result in a firefight, Lara can do a lot more manipulation, setting traps, creating noises, and generally playing on the paranoia of Trinity’s henchman. It only takes a corpse or two for the bad guys to know that Lara’s nearby, but without knowing where she is, a sense of panic rises among the men. “She’s here! She’s nearby!” they shout, aiming machine guns into the underbrush, as Lara crouches on a tree branch, watching from above.
Timing really is everything; when enemies wander far enough away from their companions, they become “isolated,” and become easy pickings for Lara and her new arsenal of stealthy weapons. At one point, we watched as Lara took aim from atop a branch, launching an arrow attached to a rope. No sooner did the arrow hit home than Lara performed a twist and jump, wrapping the rope around the neck of her opponent and dropping off the other side of the branch, strangling the gun-wielding baddie and leaving him to hang. Not to worry, Lara isn’t the kind to let her enemies suffer–they might somehow survive to get revenge. A quick series of stabs to the torso, and Lara vanishes back into the jungle, leaving a gruesome corpse for his friends to find.
The jungle warfare sequence was brief, and quickly transitioned into a cinematic which left Lara exposed and running for her life. Fortunately, she’s able to take advantage of holes in fences, which are conveniently Lara-sized, and dodge the machine gun fire laid down from a helicopter before making a dramatic leap to safety. It’s all breathtaking, if not a little far-fetched, and the whole scene, backlit by spotlights and bright orange flames, stands as a stark contrast to the dark and dirty episode in the jungle.
We also got a first look at the the hidden city of Paititi, a mythical city which houses a mix of many different peoples, from Inca to Mayan to Mexican. The city is huge, three times the size of the largest hub we saw in Rise of the Tomb Raider. This is a new experience for Lara, who enters this ancient, hidden city expecting to find artifacts; instead, she finds people. How does Lara interact with living history, and how does she draw out the secrets in this bustling, established city which is teeming with life?
Paititi provides a new kind of engagement for the Tomb Raider series, one where Lara can build meaningful relationships, find side quests, buy, sell, barter, and expand her skills. By finding and studying monoliths across the city, Lara can expand her ability to read and understand languages, and by doing so, can find clues to secret tombs which contain treasures and useful items. She will also be able to learn to interact with these people, make friends with the natives, and avoid those who have aligned themselves with the Cult. Ultimately, Lara is going to have to confront the fact that the people of Paititi are going to help her far more than she could ever help them.
We expect to see even more about Shadow of the Tomb Raider during E3, so be sure to check back for Gaming Trend’s coverage of E3 2018. You can learn more about Shadow of the Tomb Raider by checking out our hands-on with the demo, or by visiting the official Tomb Raider site.