There’s no question about it – Tomb Raider is back. With Crystal Dynamics knocking one out of the park with its reboot of the nearly irrelevant (not anymore!) franchise, there is no question that Lara’s presence will soon be a regular thing once again in the gaming world. While I absolutely adored every moment spent with this game and with it being well-received by DeShaun, there are still a few things I would love to see included/improved upon in the inevitable sequel.
Swimming – Somehow, I was plopped on an island (i.e. a body of land surrounded by water) that seems to be absolutely inundated with rivers, and yet all I ever find myself doing is wading around? My guess is that Crystal Dynamics couldn’t find a way to make swimming work on a mechanical level, and therefor left it out (my two cents). I know that this is a reboot, but given that every game before this had water puzzles and exploration (Underworld actually started off with a deep-sea dive), its exclusion seems strange. Plus, it would add another layer the the “survivor” feel that the developers seem to be emphasizing now. Speaking of which…
Stronger Survival Elements – Brought up once in the beginning of the game and then scrapped entirely (I’ll link this to my presumptions on the lack of swimming, too), hunting seemed like a missed opportunity. For as much as the game wanted to make Lara look like a survivor, fending for herself on an unforgiving rock swarming with all sorts of things that want to kill her, Crystal Dynamics could have certainly made “survival” look like more than simply falling off everything all the time and surviving. Having to hunt down food to be brought back to base camp and prepared could really sell the idea that Lara is fending for herself, adding to the already high tension.
Harder Puzzles – I will not argue that the puzzles in TR were not well thought out – they were all very creative in their execution, using physics, timing, and other elements to make that “aha” moment all the more appealing. I did not find myself wanting more puzzles, either. What I did notice, though, was that these puzzles were not exactly trying on my brain power. If the series is to stay true to the franchise at least in spirit, there should most definitely be a little more challenge associated with the puzzles.
Harder Platforming – The original TR was not just about solving puzzles, but pulling off difficult jumps as well. Though there were a fair amount of difficult looking jumps in the reboot, none of them felt all that difficult. I felt as if I could have pulled them off accidentally. If TR really wants to differentiate itself from Uncharted, putting in some more difficult platforming could be the ticket. Not only could this assist in making the aforementioned puzzles more difficult, but it would add to the tension that the series seems to be pushing for now.
Another Open World – Now that I have gotten a taste of what Lara can do in a sandbox, I would never want to go back to a linear game. Raiding tombs actually felt like something I achieved as a result of exploration, and not just did by definition of the game’s title. The RPG elements and treasure hunting only made exploring the world even more appealing, and not just a time sink because they decided to scale the size of the game world up. By keeping the world focused, they made it worth exploring, and this is something I hope carries over into a new entry in the series.
Better Characters -There is no question that Lara as a character and human being is more interesting and developed than ever, but all of her friends are still rooted in cliche. There’s the family friend, the tech geek that never gets the girl, the spiritual guru, and the overly-critical doubter that is proven wrong in the end. None of the characters were by any means offensive, but that was just because none of them made enough of a presence to even be considered a bother. If the developers are going to continue on with their focus on narrative, then it is imperative that they craft characters that break free from stereotypes.
What else do you think should be introduced or improved upon in the next Tomb Raider? We all know it’s coming, it’s just a matter of when. Let us know in the comments below!