This year’s Tribeca Film Festival in NYC showcased some amazing films, but it also branched out to showcase some amazing games as well. Case in point, I attended the Festival panel “A Special Preview of Shadow of the Tomb Raider” to find out what is next in store for our favorite resourceful (hat-less) archaeologist.
Moderated by Geoff Keighley, the members of the panel were Senior Game Director Daniel Bisson, Lead Writer Jill Murray, Senior Brand Director Rich Briggs, and the performance artist for Lara herself, Camilla Luddington. After a 20 minute preview of both gameplay and cutscene footage, which I describe in my previous article, the panel finally started.
Luddington was the first to comment, saying that the final scene—an emotional one between Lara and Jonah where they fight over the problem of a theft and flooding of a Mexican town orchestrated by Trinity—was a particularly harsh day on set. She also said that it was the first time she had seen some of that footage actually all put together, and recalled the filming itself as being emotional. However, she also admitted that the filming and acting for Shadow of the Tomb Raider was her favorite out of all three games, though incredibly emotionally taxing.
Talk of the emotional strain on Lara as a character then led to a roundtable discussion between all attendees about the character’s emotional journey through the three installments of the trilogy and why each of them are necessary. From 2013’s Tomb Raider to Shadow, the group agreed that Lara has gone from an innocent, to a survivor to a fighter, and now she will finally decide the kind of tomb raider that she wants to be. From screenshots and box art alone, the game already looks darker than the two previous installments, and that’s one thing that lead writer Jill Murray emphasized is that Lara has many choices to make in this game.
Briggs and Bisson talked extensively about the gameplay in Shadow and the opportunities that the jungle setting affords both Lara and the game designers, as opposed to the settings of the two previous games. Her knowledge gained from those games is already in full effect at the beginning of the story here, and she’ll be able to do more things like use the jungle to her advantage while fighting. Both of them stressed that the game is, in some ways, a much more tactical, thinking game than we’ve come to expect, partly because of the jungle aspects. Let’s face it, being forced to ambush your opponents instead of just violently ripping their heads off with an ice axe takes a bit more finesse.
The group also discussed the villain of the game, Dominguez. Leader of Trinity and enemy of Lara and her allies, Dominguez was talked about as a very layered character and described as the other side of the coin to Lara. “A hero of another story,” Murray said, explaining that we will get to see his motivations and his reasons for doing things come to light throughout the game. He won’t be just a one dimensional cardboard villain, a concept which greatly intrigues me. Knowing what we know of Trinity from Rise of the Tomb Raider, I find it difficult to imagine sympathizing with or truly understanding the man behind it all, but I’m excited to see what the game has to offer.
Are you on board to see where Lara's journey goes next or are you just in it for the lush jungle scenery? Let us know in the comments below!