The Tomb Raider reboot was released earlier this year and received high critical acclaim, though according to Square Enix it sold below expectations, with little over 3 million copies being distributed to consumers in the first few weeks after release. It seems, however, that the sales figures and the Metacritic average of 86% were enough to warrant a sequel, which was officially announced by Square Enix yesterday. The game was praised for its fresh interpretation of Lara Croft, portraying her as a much more vulnerable character at the beginning of the game, but soon revealing the tough-as-nails version we’re accustomed to. Even once her tough side was revealed, Square Enix made sure to leave a trace of the naivety and vulnerability shown at the start of the game. This was a huge step forward for the series, as it made for a much more believable, well rounded character than in previous versions. We now have to ask what exactly Square Enix can do with the sequel to improve on the fantastic foundations that have already been laid, so here are the 3 things I’d most like to be improved upon or changed compared to the original.
1). Secondary Characters – While Square Enix did an exceptional job of showing the character development of Lara in this year’s version, the other characters were almost entirely neglected. I would like to see the secondary characters become much more dynamic in the sequel, rather than acting as glorified cardboard cutouts. It seems unlikely that Square Enix will be able to achieve the same sort of personal character development for Lara as they did in the reboot, so they will have to use secondary characters and their relationships with Lara, to achieve the same sort of emotional impact in the player.
2). Combat – The previous game’s combat was definitely its lowest point. The combat system was solid, but ultimately very basic and not a great deal of fun. The cover system works well, but also brings a fair bit of monotony along with it, and I would much rather that they brought in more stealth-based gameplay or, at the very least, introduced a greater variety in weapons to make the cover-based combat more exciting. I found the QTE style of counter attacks in melee combat to be much more satisfying, and would like to see that particular system more widely used as well.
3). Scope of the Setting – I loved the setting of the previous game. In fact, I think it was pretty much perfect for what Square Enix was trying to achieve. The relatively limited setting allowed them to focus almost entirely on the actual character development, which made sense, considering the previous game is basically Lara’s origin story. I feel that they should change that in the sequel, now that Lara has been introduced sufficiently, by sending her on a globe trotting adventure where we can explore more varied locales, rather than spending the entire game in the same sort of terrain. There are so many possible destinations, from African Savannas to the snow-covered Alps, why not make use of them?
Ultimately, I feel that the Tomb Raider series is in the right hands. Square Enix has proven themselves time and time again as knowing how to construct engaging game worlds and stories. We’ll just have to wait and see what they can pull out with Tomb Raider 2, which is set for a release sometime in 2014. Let us know what you think Square Enix should do with the Tomb Raider sequel in the comments section below and on the forums.