The Tomb Raider franchise celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, with fans all over the world finding fun and creative ways to honour the iconic series and its beloved heroine. With the anniversary year officially drawing to a close next month, Crystal Dynamics decided to commemorate the occasion with a new video highlighting the company’s and community’s accomplishments for Tomb Raider 25.

Here’s a summary of how the Tomb Raider fan community and the hard-working folks at Crystal Dynamics celebrated this milestone event!

Charity Fundraisers

Over $100,000 was raised for charity. The chosen charities include The Trevor Project – which provides 24/7 crisis support services to young LGBTQ+ people – and Girls Make Games, which runs workshops and summer camps to inspire girls to pursue careers in the gaming industry.

Over 100 Updates to the Tomb Raider 25 Website

Fans were treated to regular updates to the Tomb Raider 25 website, starting with Tomb Raider (1996) Month in February 2021 and ending with Shadow of the Tomb Raider Month in December 2021. This year-long initiative included cosplay guides, social polls, crossword puzzles, interviews with cast and crew, fan spotlights, and other features.

80+ Hours of Community Livestreams

The community management team invited members of the fan community to participate in a series of livestreams for each of the Tomb Raider games and spin-offs. These community streams were not just a fun way to watch others play the games; they also gave the Crystal Dynamics team a chance to address fans’ questions and concerns. If you don’t have time to sift through 80+ hours of content, you can find summaries of the community streams over on the Tomb Raider SubReddit.

Behind the Scenes Development Videos

Ever wanted to know more about the development of the Tomb Raider games? Then you’re in luck. The official Tomb Raider YouTube channel uploaded over 60 development videos for Angel of Darkness and the Crystal Dynamics’ games as well as the cancelled horror-survival game Ascension.

The Official Tomb Raider Cookbook and Travel Guide

One of the merchandise reveals for Tomb Raider 25 was Tomb Raider: The Official Cookbook and Travel Guide, which contains over 50 recipes inspired by Lara’s adventures and information about the places she has visited. Unfortunately, the announcement was met with a lot of negativity on social media but the book itself is a fun addition to any fan’s collection.

The cover of Tomb Raider: The Official Cookbook and Travel Guide, one of the merchandise items released for Tomb Raider 25
The cover of Tomb Raider: The Official Cookbook and Travel Guide

Lara Croft Emojis

Crystal Dynamics teamed up with illustrator Jeff Victor to create a set of Tomb Raider emoji stickers for iOS. You can see all 40+ stickers and wallpapers over on Tomb Raider’s Flickr account.

Weta Workshop’s Lost Valley Figure

In spring 2021, Weta Workshop opened pre-orders for their Lara Croft: The Lost Valley limited edition statue. The figure was created to commemorate 25 years of Croft and depicted the adventurer facing off against two deadly raptors. This spectacular piece was sadly too expensive for the average fan, but if you’re desperate to expand your Tomb Raider collection, Weta Workshop’s recently announced Mini Epics figures may be something for you.

Tomb Raider Community Interviews

Fans were also treated to over 20 community interviews with the games’ creators, voice actors, and members of the fan community. These included an interview with Shelley Blond and Natalie Cook, who helped make Lara Croft an international icon back in 1996, and a series of Pride community spotlights.

Reimagined Box Art

Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix teamed up with some of the industry’s most talented artists to reimagine the cover art for each of the Tomb Raider games. These include Brenoch Adams’ Lost Valley-themed cover art for the original 1996 game, Andy Park’s take on The Last Revelation, and Ross Tran’s dynamic Shadow of the Tomb Raider art. A bundle containing all 15 covers was sold for a limited period to raise funds for Girls Make Games.

Andy Park's reimagined cover art for Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Andy Park’s reimagined cover art for Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

Special Birthday Greetings for Tomb Raider 25

October 2021 marked the 25th anniversary of Lara Croft’s first video game outing. Fans of the franchise were treated to over a dozen special birthday greetings from women who had brought the iconic adventurer to life over the years. The well-wishers included Lara Croft voice actor Camilla Luddington; official Lara Croft models Rhona Mitra and Alison Carroll; writer Rhianna Pratchett; Tomb Raider anime series showrunner Tasha Huo; and Misha Green, the former writer and director of the sadly shelved sequel to the 2018 Tomb Raider film.

Croft Crossovers

Gamers were able to enjoy a number of Tomb Raider-themed crossovers throughout the year. These included a month-long collaboration with the tactical mobile RPG War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and lots of Crofty goodness for Fortnite.

Tomb Raider Anime Series Talent Reveals

Another of the year’s exciting announcements was the talent reveal for the upcoming Netflix Tomb Raider anime series. Fans learnt that Hayley Atwell would be voicing Lara in the new series and that screenwriter Tasha Huo had been hired as the series’ showrunner. Earle Baylon was confirmed to be reprising his role as Jonah Maiava while actor Allen Maldonado was being brought onto the show to voice the wise-cracking tech expert Zip, who had been a supporting character in Chronicles, Legend, and Underworld.

Fan-Favourite Bracket Winners

The fanbase has spoken! The results of the fan-favourite brackets organised by the community management team were as follows: the fans’ favourite weapons were Lara’s next-gen dual pistols, their favourite level was Thailand from Underworld, and their favourite outfit was the Classic outfit. While the Classic outfit may need some minor tweaking for the 21st century, it would be fantastic to see all three of these in the next game.

Tabletop RPG Cover Reveals

One of the final announcements of 2021 was that of the upcoming tabletop RPG adventure, Lara Croft’s Tomb Raiders. Players will assume the role of Lara Croft’s assistants and explore ancient sites under the guidance of the campaign’s “Raid Master” (think Dungeons & Dragons). The covers for the game’s core rule book and first campaign book, Mark of the Phoenix, were revealed just before Christmas 2021. Both covers were created by Crystal Dynamics concept designer Brenoch Adams.

Brenoch Adams' cover art for The Mark of the Phoenix
Brenoch Adams’ cover art for The Mark of the Phoenix

There were also other activities that weren’t included in the video. For instance, there was a whole series of fan art showcases, which included work from dozens of talented fan artists. There was also no mention of Tomb Raider Reloaded or the Tomb Raider Live Experience which is still running in London or of Storyworld’s “The World of Lara Croft” exhibition, which detailed the history of the Tomb Raider games and highlighted Lara Croft’s impact on popular culture.

I may have missed something here but I have to admit that I didn’t keep a very close eye on the community’s anniversary celebrations or take part in many of the organised events. Work, family emergencies, and my other hobbies and interests kept me extremely busy in 2021 and, frankly, I wasn’t in the best mood to deal with the larger Tomb Raider community and its dramas.

On the face of it, it’s easy to see why some fans felt that the 25th anniversary celebrations were underwhelming. No new games (or remasters) were announced, Tomb Raider Reloaded is still not available to play in most countries, the future of the Tomb Raider franchise is still uncertain, and the organised community events were not everyone’s cup of tea. But it would be disingenuous to claim that Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix did nothing to commemorate this milestone anniversary.

So, what were your personal highlights of Tomb Raider 25? Did you participate in any of the livestreams or create any art for the fan art showcases? Did you try out any of the recipes from the official cookbook?

Feel free to share your Tomb Raider 25 thoughts and stories in the comments section below!

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