The launch of Tomb Raider is just a few of days away, and excitement for the game is unsurprisingly at an all-time high. I was lucky enough to get a chance to chat with Crystal Dynamics' Head of Studio, Darrell Gallagher, and Creative Director, Noah Hughes a bit about Lara's upcoming adventure, and learned quite a bit about the game's artistic direction.
The similarities between Tomb Raider and Uncharted are hard to ignore, but Crystal believes there is plenty that differentiates the two, especially in terms of gameplay and tone. Gallagher pointed out the game's drastically different structure, combining more linear, cinematic portions with larger hub sections that encourage exploration. Tomb Raider also doesn't have that light-hearted feel of an Uncharted game, as the tone is far more dark and does "not pull any punches."
The combat itself, while also a third-person shooter, is very different from Naughty Dog's series, featuring its "own personality." Gallagher spoke specifically to the "organic" cover system, which makes third person action more fluid than ever. Hughes chimed in, explaining that the character progression system is another huge differentiating factor, and one that provides the player with a "sense of empowerment."
Fans of the older Tomb Raider games can rest assured that this is still very much an experience that stays true to the franchise. Hughes made it clear that Lara served as the "anchor" and that she is still very much the same Lara you've come to know and love. The three "pillars" of gameplay are all there as well, with a healthy blend of platforming, exploration, and puzzles.
What is drastically different from traditional Tomb Raider, however, is the vulnerability of Lara—this is an origin story after all. According to Hughes, they weren't chasing an M-rating, but they wanted to make sure that "the stakes felt high." The violence in the game was "not about being gratuitous" but rather "impactful." They wanted to use the threat of death as a motivation to survive.
With regard to the controversial sexual abuse scene, Gallagher explained that because there was a bit of "miscommunication" and viewers weren't provided with the "full context," it was blown out of proportion. The team is "confident about the vision of the game" and didn't want to let anything compromise that. The intention was to create empathy within the player so that they would see things through the "lens of survival."
Tomb Raider launches on March 5th for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.