Tomb Raider: 'Lara has gone through lots of challenges, and there are many more'

Writer, creative director and art director on rebooting an icon

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Was there pressure to adhere to preconceptions of what Lara should look/act like?

Brian Horton: Oh yeah! We went through many iterations. We had our first concept, that nailed that look, focus tested. What we found was people recognised her as Lara Croft but at the same time they weren't fixated on some of her more, uh... traditional attributes I should say? They were staring at her eyes and thinking 'I want to know that girl'. That's when we knew we had the right formula.

How have you worked to make the world of Tomb Raider a very physical place?

We've often said that the island is the second most important character in the game. We have the support cast but the island really is Lara's ultimate foe in a lot of ways. You'll see wind, you'll see rain you'll see fire. All of these attributes mirror a primal idea of survival but we're not just trying to make the aesthetic right. The wind will actually have a mechanics aspect to it. You'll be able to utilise the wind to your advantage - it could also be used as a deterrent in some way.

How have you approached tombs in the game?

You saw a side tomb which is really just the tip of what a tomb is for us. That gets magnified 10-20 times in the real tombs in the game.


By the end of Tomb Raider, will Lara have become the heroine we knew from older games or will this be an entirely new Lara?

Our goal for this re-imagining is to set her off on a whole new quest. These are all going to be new stories, new adventures and this is just the beginning of a whole new set of stories and videogames for Lara, hopefully, if we're fortunate enough for people to like it.

Tomb Raider isn't an open world but it feels like it. How do the hub areas work?

Noah Hughes: As a Tomb Raider game you want to create a world that's rich with atmosphere and high fidelity enough to feel like a real place. Another aspect, that was essential to keep, was that sense of finding things. It wasn't acceptable to trip along a linear path. So the hubs were really that middle ground where we felt we could deliver on that sense of exploration and maintain that fidelity that we thought was important.

Can you give examples of how the environment of the island informs gameplay?

In the context of hunting, Lara gains experience from that. We know that food is essential for survival but we didn't want a simulation game. It's really a way to enhance your survival and gain skills. And we wanted to make sure that there was enough AI behind something like the deer so you feel like it's alive in the world.


In terms of the combat, it's not about strength or the biggest gun. It's about being agile and moving. We really wanted you to be able to move fluidly between cover. We didn't want a system that encouraged you to stick in one place.

Maps full of collectibles are no new thing, but how has the team made them interesting?

Each of them has a goal, like the relics you pick up. The pull there really is to share the archaeological experience with Lara. In the case of the historical docs, they really represent more of a narrative element where people are curious about the backstory of the island and the relevant characters. Each one has a goal of adding to the experience.

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