10 Things I’d Like to See in the Next ‘Tomb Raider’ Game

Lara Croft in the end credits scene of 'Shadow of the Tomb Raider'.

Many moons ago, I put together a wish list for a sequel to Tomb Raider (2013) and, oddly enough, most of the items on that list ended up being gameplay features in Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, or both. And while a new Tomb Raider game has yet to be confirmed, I thought I’d have some fun in the meantime and think about what I’d like to see and do in Lara’s next outing.

1) Maintain the current balance of combat/exploration/puzzles – For all my issues with 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I genuinely believe that the game struck the perfect balance between exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving. Any future games should stick to this formula and, if anything, skew in favour of exploration and puzzles. I know combat has been a mainstay of Tomb Raider since the very beginning but I could do without the all-too-frequent waves of mercenaries and humanoid enemies.

2) Fewer fetch quests, more riddles – In addition to the usual environmental and traversal puzzles, I’d also like to add cryptic riddles to the mix, something along the lines of the papyrus puzzles of Assassin’s Creed: Origins or Ainigmata Ostraka of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. That way, gamers can use their detective skills and knowledge of the terrain to unearth hidden secrets and vital clues. Imagine if the entrances to challenge tombs could only be found by correctly solving a multi-step riddle. Wouldn’t that be more rewarding than helping a random villager retrieve some lost equipment?

3) Bring back Croft Manor – At the end of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we see that Croft Manor has been restored to its former glory and is now Lara’s base of operations. While the reboot trilogy did a decent job of incorporating tutorials and gameplay hints into its opening levels, I miss the training areas of yesteryear. I’m sure Lara could fit a decent gym, pool, and assault course in that lofty mansion of hers. Furthermore, I think Croft Manor would make an excellent central hub that Lara can return to throughout the game to upgrade abilities, craft new materials, equip quest-specific weaponry or tools, or simply take a breather between missions.

4) Take a more open-world approach – I’m not entirely sure what a fully open-world Tomb Raider game would look like or how it could be executed, but I’d welcome the option to jump between locations with greater ease and have greater freedom to explore the surrounding areas without triggering a cut scene.

That said, it may be difficult to create a Tomb Raider game that feels as open-world as the last few entries in the Assassin’s Creed series, where you can find yourself straying off the beaten path, discovering lost tombs and sites and unlocking parts of the map before returning to the main story quests many hours, days, weeks, even months, later. Granted, Tomb Raider isn’t a franchise that’s geared towards open-world gameplay. A better option would be to allow gamers to choose which order they would like to visit certain locations. This less-linear approach was used to great effect in Tomb Raider III.

5) Use a wider variety of locations – Egypt and China seem to be the two places that fans are clamouring for, but as much as I’d love to see those locations in all their next-gen glory, Tomb Raider has slowly set itself apart from other adventure games by exploring some of the world’s less well-known corners. Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East are fairly underrepresented in the franchise and would be fascinating settings for a future game.

And the more locations per game, the better. Imagine a story set along the entire stretch of the old Silk Road, which once facilitated trade and cultural exchange between China, Central Asia, Persia, Arabia, Southern Europe, and even parts of North Africa. Or one focused on the medieval kingdoms of West Africa, who conducted trade with places like Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Or perhaps one that follows in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, whose vast empire once included Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. The possibilities are endless.

Lara Croft encounters the villagers of Paititi in 'Shadow of the Tomb Raider'.

6) No more lost tribes/forgotten people – Tomb Raider has always had its problematic elements and been somewhat colonial in tone, but one of the tropes that has bothered me the most is that of the “lost tribe”. For the last two games, Lara has come across lost tribes in long-forgotten settlements and quickly stepped in to save these communities from certain destruction and, essentially, save the day on their behalf.

The most egregious example of this was in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, when Lara is asked to complete the ritual and assume Unuratu’s sacred duty after the queen’s untimely death, despite being an outsider with no real knowledge of Paititian tradition. By eliminating lost tribes from any future games, we can avoid yet another “White Saviour” story and, hopefully, limit the number of pointless side quests that involve solving the local community’s personal problems.

7) Bring back vehicles – Sure, we’ve all had our issues steering that damn kayak in Tomb Raider III or had difficulties steering quad bikes and snowmobiles along treacherous paths but I think a lot of us would welcome the return of vehicles, especially since the drivers and pilots Lara hires always end up dead. Vehicles would allow her to explore her surroundings with greater ease, navigate rivers, or make speedy getaways when needed. Even a horse or husky sled would be a step in the right direction.

8) Add scuba diving to Lara’s skill set – Rise and Shadow brought back swimming but I’d like the next game to go one step further and bring back one of the more entertaining features of Tomb Raider: Underworld: scuba diving. What better way to explore underwater ruins and passageways?

9) No more reboots for now – A lot of fans have speculated that the next game may be yet another reboot of the franchise or, less likely, a continuation of the LAU timeline. Personally, I think a reboot of any sort is completely unnecessary at this stage and could lead another segment of the fanbase to give up on the franchise altogether. Just fast forward a few years so that we’re dealing with an older, more confident and skilled Croft and continue Reboot Lara’s story. Let’s see what she got up to after defeating Trinity and making peace with her family history. Oh, and let’s avoid any more trilogies for now unless they are mapped out in advance to avoid inconsistencies in tone, story, and intent. Standalone adventures are the way to go.

10) Let Lara have fun – I know the series has largely sworn off the more fantastical elements of the older games – such as dinosaurs and dragons – but it doesn’t have to rely so heavily on gritty realism, family drama, and jump-scares. In Shadow, we saw a Lara that was a little more assured of herself,  jocular, and occasionally sassy. The campy “wink at the screen” antics of Angelina Jolie’s Croft might not work in the 2020s but I’d like to Reboot Lara to learn how to unwind and start enjoying herself. She should crave excitement and adventure, not approach her latest quest with the enthusiasm of someone doing their grocery shopping in the middle of a pandemic. Because if Lara isn’t having fun, I’m not having fun.


So that’s my list. Feel free to share your own wish lists in the comments section below!

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About Kelly M

Kelly McGuire is a writer, part-time translator, and gamer who is passionate about archaeology, language learning, travel, and wildlife conservation. She tweets under the username @TRHorizons and is the admin and chief content creator for Tomb Raider Horizons.

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8 Comments on “10 Things I’d Like to See in the Next ‘Tomb Raider’ Game”

  1. I really like your 1, 2, and 6 points.

    Regarding the 1st, I actually thought they had a nice balance in Rise, but I think that only happens if you take time to search out the tombs; as a result, and in comparison, there were times when I felt Shadow was a little stagnant in the pacing, but I know a lot of fans were happy about how Shadow turned out.

    Regarding the 2nd, you bring up a great point about adding more riddles. I think that’s a great idea! I thought about whenever she would read an ancient text and her language proficiency would improve and how the developers could’ve used that to implement a riddle or two. They kind of did this when you had to find certain locations around Paititi for caches in Shadow, but that was pretty much it.

    I also agree with your 6th point: As I started playing Shadow, I noticed it bore a lot of similarities to Rise with regard to the storyline and would’ve liked to have seen something a little different. Actually, I admit, I felt they did something of a 180 with Trinity in general. I had speculated the next location would be Rome since it was implied someone in the Catholic Church was involved and I thought Lara would take the fight to the head of Trinity there. Then in Shadow they say Trinity is older than Christianity, which didn’t match up with what had been established in Rise nor did it explain the Trinity name (and the only way I can think of them getting away with the change is to have the name be reference to Natla and the other two gods rather than the triune God). As much as I enjoyed Shadow, I felt this point was disregarded in favor of making Dominguez a more sympathetic character.

  2. This is a great list! I think open world and vehicles could go along well in being introduced together. Something like the open world elements Uncharted 4 had with driving a vehicle but actually be able to explore at anytime. And yeah, I agree on no reboot, just advance the story further in time, keep this arc of Lara but grow her. Seeing her older, stronger would be a great development for her and also gives her a clean slate of time away from father an trinity stuff.

    I do really want to see her have fun, I never understood why they really wanted to keep the game being so gritty and dark just to hit that Mature rating. They can still make dungeons be really dangerous without having to do the whole dark cults over and over.

    And fully agree on 6, really disappointed that the whole big Trinity thing was just another secret tribe and is what ultimately really turns me off from Shadow, that and the trying to make things darkish cult again.

    1. I think she probably will ‘cut loose’ more in the future installments. She experienced and worked through a lot of demons in the past games–killing people for survival/self-defense, her relationship with and the perceptions of her dad, and the emotional and psychological trauma that comes from losing family (and Jonah, as she believes at one point) by an organization that also wants her dead. “What about my world?” was such a great line to encapsulate the pain she harbored. We do see her carefree in the beginning and more at peace near the end with Jonah and the others; regarding the latter, I think that’s because she’s finally resolved all of these issues she’s been struggling with, some since childhood, which takes a great amount of character to overcome. As a result, I think it’s only natural she would face future adventures with a more positive outlook. 🙂

  3. I like most of the points but I’m not a fan of putting Lara in an open world environment. Most games that lend themselves to open worlds have proven to be drab and repetitive with little to do except busy work. If you hated running errands in games now, an open world will magnify that to crazy proportions. Not all open worlds are bad though. There are some exceptions to the rule I liked (Shadow of the Colossus, Breath of the wild, Ghost of Tsushima, Witcher III, the Arkham series…). I’ll be all for it if they can capture the magic that these games had.

    Overall, I think sandbox hubs with metroidvania-esque discovery is the way to go. It allows devs to put more love and detail in every corner that can be discovered. I like that more than traveling from one major region to another with nothing but a vast open world in between.

    Great article and great site. I’m glad I stumbled on it.