The final game in Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider origin trilogy is about to be released for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
After exploring the snowy surroundings of Siberia in 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft’s latest adventure takes her to sunny South America in search of a Mayan relic that could save the world.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks gorgeous, features a ton of fiendish puzzles and some incredible set pieces. But it’s the fully customisable difficulty levels that really caught our attention during a recent hands-on with the game.
Express Online spoke to Narrative director Jason Dozois and lead game designer Heath Smith about Shadow of the Raider’s best new feature.
According to Dozois and Smith, Shadow of the Tomb Raider treats combat, exploration and puzzles as separate entities, complete with their own difficulty levels.
As somebody who enjoys Tomb Raider’s puzzles but not its combat, Shadow of the Tomb Raider lets you turn down the intensity of enemy encounters without making the puzzles any easier. It’s ideal for my particular playstyle.
“We’ve always had combat difficulty – like hit points, damage and stuff like that – so that’s the same,” Dozois explains.
“The other two are exploration and puzzle. When it came to puzzle, we wanted to add puzzles to the critical path of the game because fans were asking for that. We wanted the puzzles to be challenging, but when we were playtesting, people weren’t understanding, so we had hints.
“But then the people who like puzzles and want to solve them are annoyed by the hints. The players who never want a hint, never want a hint and will set it to hard.”
While the puzzles remain the same regardless of the difficulty level, players receive subtle and not so subtle hints when playing on medium and easy.
“So what we did is have a medium difficulty and an easy, and then when you activate survival instinct, Lara will give you a hint for every step of a puzzle.
“If you’re on easy, she almost gives you the next step, because Lara’s smarter than you, and on medium she gives kind of her theory about what she thinks the next step will be.”
Players can also tweak the exploration experience, removing voice overs that tell you where to go, and most importantly of all, getting rid of white ledges that show you where to climb.
This was inspired by an online group that hated the way white ledges signposted the way in previous Tomb Raider releases.
“There was a group online called G.R.O.W.L (get rid of white ledges),” Dozois continues.
“These people obviously wanted to get rid of white ledges, so we added in more transparency to make them go away. If you’re on medium it’s about 30%, and if you’re on hard, there’s nothing.
“It’s not just ledges, it’s also what trees you can climb and where you can rope attach and things like this.”
You can check it out for yourself when Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 14.