Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the end of Lara Croft’s origin story

Last night we were among the first people to play a lengthy 45-minute demo of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. That demo ended with Lara accidentally kickstarting what looked to be the end of the world. How that plays out is anyone’s guess, but what we were certainly witness to was the end of a seven-year stint for Eidos Montreal in helping to reboot the character, first working alongside Crystal Dynamics and now as the sole developer.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was unveiled at three locations around the globe. The European event being held in London and was the kind of full-on launch party that the games industry doesn’t see that many of these days – with a large gutted church in the very centre of London transformed into a South American jungle.

In the basement staff from the developer gave a brief overview of their thinking behind the title. They were keen to extol the progression that Lara has made through this initial trilogy of games. From desperate survival in the initial reboot, to finding her tomb-raiding feet in Rise, to becoming a total bad-ass in this latest game.

Lara can now rappel off any rock face she’s climbing around on with her twin pickaxes, has the ability to highlight which enemies are observed by others and which are safe to pick off, and can slide along bushes or walls covered in vegetation unseen.

In short, Lara is now more agile, more deadly and more assured of her capabilities than ever before.

And so is the game itself. Demoed on 4K screens in HDR the latest Tomb Raider is talking full advantage of the latest technology. The sheen of reflections across wet surfaces is pumped up to the max – worry not you can tone things down if desired. From the depths of a puzzle-packed early tomb to being repeated impaled in an incredible flash-flood sequence, it all looked sumptuous running on Xbox One X hardware.

Though, of course, this time Lara is launching herself onto all platforms simultaneously, see below, giving the latest title a huge potential impact and removing any marketing headaches caused by the split launch of the last title.

Wherever the franchise is headed next, this is the end of an era for the rebooted Ms Croft. Whoever tackles Tomb Raider next will surely have to shake things up significantly, in tone, setting or mechanics, as Eidos Montreal looks to have turned everything in the current model up to 11 for this outing.

With the game yet to launch, it seems a little premature to look beyond it, but having played just a small section we’re confident that this will be a huge hit for Square Enix and round off one of the most slickly accomplished game series of recent years. The variety in tone and art in just the demo alone was deeply impressive.

Lara is surely certain to save the world in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but how the aftermath of that turns out both for her, the franchise and the developer is what’s truly intriguing.

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