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Revisiting Shadow of the Tomb Raider: A Reevaluation of the Divisive Reboot

Core Concepts
The author's initial skepticism towards Shadow of the Tomb Raider was unfounded, and the game deserves a fresh look in light of subsequent developments in the industry.
The author initially had a hard time mustering interest in Shadow of the Tomb Raider when it launched in 2018. This was due to several factors: The game was not developed by the series' long-time caretakers at Crystal Dynamics, but rather by the Deus Ex team at Eidos Montreal. The story was written by a different writer, Rhianna Pratchett, taking a different direction than the planned trilogy. The gameplay incorporated more "immersive sim" style elements alongside the usual action and platforming mechanics. The author was further skeptical when the game was updated in 2019 to support ray-traced shadows, as the author was not convinced of the benefits of the then-new Nvidia RTX technology. However, the author now acknowledges that ray tracing has become a standard feature, and the author's own hardware can now support it. Additionally, the Tomb Raider franchise has undergone significant changes, with the series being acquired by Embracer Group and rented to Amazon Games for future development. The author also notes that Eidos Montreal, the developers of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, have since been granted their "dream" to work on another Deus Ex game, only to have that project recently cancelled. Given these developments, the author suggests that it is time to reevaluate Shadow of the Tomb Raider and consider the game's merits with a fresh perspective.

Deeper Inquiries

What specific improvements or changes could be made to the Shadow of the Tomb Raider gameplay and narrative to better align with fan expectations?

To better align with fan expectations, Shadow of the Tomb Raider could benefit from a more cohesive narrative that delves deeper into Lara Croft's character development. Fans of the series have grown attached to the strong, independent, and resourceful Lara, so focusing on her personal growth and motivations could enhance the overall storytelling experience. Additionally, gameplay improvements could involve striking a better balance between the immersive sim elements introduced in the game and the traditional action and platforming mechanics that fans have come to love. Providing more challenging puzzles, diverse environments, and meaningful exploration opportunities could further engage players and keep them invested in the gameplay experience.

How has the Tomb Raider franchise's acquisition by Embracer Group and subsequent partnership with Amazon Games impacted the creative direction and development of the series?

The acquisition of the Tomb Raider franchise by Embracer Group and the subsequent partnership with Amazon Games have brought about significant changes in the creative direction and development of the series. With Embracer Group now overseeing the franchise, there may be a shift in priorities and strategies for the future of Tomb Raider games. The partnership with Amazon Games could potentially open up new opportunities for the series, such as exploring different platforms or experimenting with innovative gameplay mechanics. However, this collaboration also raises questions about how the creative vision of the series will be maintained and whether the partnership will lead to a successful evolution of the franchise or potential challenges in maintaining the core identity of the Tomb Raider games.

What lessons can be learned from the cancellation of Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex project, and how might that influence their approach to future Tomb Raider titles?

The cancellation of Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex project serves as a valuable lesson in the unpredictable nature of game development and the challenges that studios face in bringing ambitious projects to fruition. This experience may influence Eidos Montreal's approach to future Tomb Raider titles by emphasizing the importance of clear communication, realistic project planning, and adaptability in the face of unforeseen obstacles. By learning from the mistakes and setbacks encountered during the Deus Ex project, Eidos Montreal can apply these lessons to their work on future Tomb Raider titles, ensuring a more streamlined development process, better project management, and a stronger focus on delivering a high-quality gaming experience that meets fan expectations.