During this year’s E3, we took in both a guided demo and had the opportunity to go hands on with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. We learned something rather interesting.
The video presentation – led by Eidos Montreal gameplay director Vincent Monnier – took us through an open hub, an ancient city thought long abandoned, that Lara finds to be teeming with life and culture. We also saw some environment traversal, including the new 360-degree swimming, and some crypts and tombs. It is a Tomb Raider game, after all.
The Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation finished up with a combat and action sequence which, a little later, we were able to go hands on with.
The section begins with Lara, creeping through the jungle, filled with some very bad men. They have done something to her friend Jonah, so she is naturally quite upset about it. The lighting is dim and the terrain slicked with moisture; giant ferns and hanging vines bounce and recoil as Lara passes through them.
As in the previous Tomb Raider games since the 2013 reboot, Lara finds herself picking off enemies with a bow and a knife, using stealth and a little creative thinking to come through alive. This time, however, she has some new tricks, including an arrow tipped with some sort of venom that causes foes to become paranoid and attack one another. We relied on that one a few times.
Another new trick Lara has at her disposal, however, is more interesting: she can scoop up gobs of sticky mud from puddles, and cake herself in it. For the purposes of the demo section we played, this acted as straight-forward visual camouflage, just like Martin Sheen’s Willard in Apocalypse Now, though it’s worth mentioning that on-screen tool-tips suggested that you could also use the mud to cool your body temperate to avoid detection, so presumably, there’s a Predator in the jungle somewhere, too.
Later, after Lara has made her way through the stealth combat sections, she finds herself on an oil refinery platform which is for some reason exploding, and she has to climb across a collapsing structure lest she fall to her doom. Any similarities to the train segment in Uncharted 2 are purely incidental. But as is often the way with these sequences, you are doomed to fail in spite of your best efforts, because the narrative progression demands it. Lara falls from the structure into the water below, which is wreathed in a layer of flames, as a viscose blanket of oil coats the surface.
Lara rises through the water, a mud-covered silhouette, projected before a dancing blanket of fire and fury.
“This looks a lot like Apocalypse Now,” we say to Monnier, who following the guided presentation has joined us in the private booth for our hands-on demo.
“Yes, that’s intentional,” he confirms.
“And the mud, too? Like Willard?”
“Yes of course, it was all intentional,” he laughs. “You got it! In fact, this whole level you just played? During development we nicknamed it ‘the Apocalypse Now level’ for that very reason.”
So there you have it: Shadow of the Tomb Raider is most definitely inspired by Apocalypse Now. Whether we see any other similarities to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness through the course of the game remains to be seen, but based on what we’ve experienced of the game so far, both in trailers and behind closed doors with the developers at E3 this year, we wouldn’t be surprised.
Watch the trailer below, and see for yourself.
More from Thumbsticks
- E3 2018 diary, day 1: Tombs raided, kingdoms hearted, feet blistered
- The E3 2018 press conferences ranked, from worst to best
- Everything announced on the Square Enix E3 2018 livestream
We hate to ask, but...
Thumbsticks has a couple of goals. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. And right now, with the current state of online publishing? It's tough to meet those goals! We hate to ask, but if you want us to continue writing what others won't, or to keep covering weird indie games, or to be able to give opportunities to new writers – and only if you can afford it – then please consider supporting us on Patreon.
Recommended for you
Latest from Thumbsticks
Following years of crunch, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga gets a release date
Warner Bros. Games confirms the release date for Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga amid reports of crunch at developer TT...
Nintendo Switch Online: The big list of NES, SNES, N64 and Genesis games
Nintendo Switch Online includes access to a growing library of classic NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis games. Here’s the...
One of last year’s very best games is coming to Xbox Game Pass
Death's Door, Rainbow Six Extraction and Windjammers 2 are among this month's second wave of Xbox Game Pass titles.
Among Us 2022 roadmap includes Friends List feature
Innersloth has outlined this year's content and development roadmap for Among Us.
New PlayStation Store releases: January 17-21, 2022
Here's a quick roundup of this week's brand new PlayStation Store releases for the PS4 and PS5.
Why the ‘Big Box’ Lair of the Clockwork God Collector’s Edition is a big deal
We spoke to Dan Marshall about the Lair of the Clockwork God Collector's Edition, and why indie games getting "Big...
New Nintendo Switch releases – January 17-22, 2022
Shadow Man Remastered and Windjammers 2 headline this week's list of new Nintendo Switch eShop releases.
New Xbox releases – January 17-21, 2022
Rainbow Six Extraction and Nobody Saves the World headline a busy week for new Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One...