The third installment of the Tomb Raider reboot francise was announced last month on the official Tomb Raider twitter feed. The announcement contained little information about the release date, only mentioning that the ‘journey would begin’ at a major event this year. Officially the title has not been mentioned, but numerous leaks assert that the game will be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Little else is known about the game with questions circling around whether Crystal Dynamics will develop the game or if Camilla Luddington will reprise her role as Lara Croft. The entire tweet is available here:
What is known is the locale(or one of them at least). The picture below is a still from the last cutscene of Rise of the Tomb Raider depicting a map of Central America with a red circle around the Yucatan peninsula. Since the announcement, I’ve been delving into what we might expect to encounter in the next installment. Here is some of what I’ve found.
The Yucatan peninsula is covered in continuous jungles with occasional swamps on the northern half. However, there are no rivers in this area meaning that any water found on the surface would be marshy, and likely undrinkable. Drinkable water would be found in cenotes, or sinkholes, that lead to a fresh groundwater system which ancient indigenous people relied heavily upon. The area is also subject to fierce tropical storms, whose impact is made worse by the mostly flat terrain.
Given the geography, I could easily see a reprise of the Endurance mode from Rise of the Tomb Raider. I'd imagine that you would still need to find artifacts, but instead of the unforgiving cold of Siberia, you would be traversing dense jungles trying to find relics. Instead of having to manage food and warmth, You would need to carefully cultivate food and water, as well as find (or make) shelter against a sudden storm. Add in plenty of patrolling Trinity soldiers, wild animals and whatever mythological creatures we are fighting next, as well as massive stone temples for us to raid and we could have ourselves a memorable game mode.
It is almost certain that we will be dealing with the Maya civilization within Shadow, seeing as the empire was almost exclusively located on the peninsula. At first I was a bit skeptical of Crystal Dynamics decision to place the game in this setting. After all, the Maya civilization was at the forefront of culture at the beginning of the decade with the ‘doomsday calendars’ and the series so far as dealt with some lesser known mythologies (Baba Yaga, Deathless ones, The Sun Queen) sprinkled in with some contemporary classics (Oni and Zombies). The more I read, however, the more I came to realize not only just how much untapped Maya mythos there was, but how much said mythos would fit within the trajectory of the current story.
Firstly, The Maya mythos is bloody, very much so. Sacrifice was central to the Maya religion, as they performed a variety of grisly human sacrifices, which could range from heart removal to what was called an ‘Arrow sacrifice’, where the victim would be tied to a stake and have their blood collected to be smeared over the idol of the presiding deity. Archers would then proceed to fire arrows into the victim until the chest area was completely full. Given the amount of blood contained within the first two games, the mythos seems to be a good fit for the franchise.
But it wasn’t just the shedding of blood that was important, the victim’s bloodline itself was paramount. Only those of high status would be sacrificed as those of low status would be an unworthy offering to the gods and were usually denoted to slave labor. The importance of who you were is made even more clear when referring to the Maya vision serpent, a creature that could connect one with the deceased. The Maya would invoke bloodletting rituals, a non-lethal collection of ones’ blood, which would cause the participants to see visions that would allow them to communicate with their ancestors or their gods in some cases.
The Tomb Raider reboot games have had very strong familial themes. In the first game, Lara comes to realize the truth of her late father’s claims in his research that the metaphysical does in fact exist, and in Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara sets out to vindicate her father. In the Bloodlines DLC, Lara explores her family home in order to find clues about where her mother is buried and discovers many truths about herself and her parents in the process. With this in mind, I am almost certain that we will see the above rituals come into play. Perhaps we might even get a scene where Lara is allowed to converse with her deceased father or perhaps other loved ones. Either way, it’s safe to say that we will be in for a bloody ride.
Of the mythological creatures we might face, I found two that are likely to be included:
First, we have the Naguals, mystical shapeshifters who can take the form of animals, such as jaguars, pumas, dogs and birds. The animal is determined by the day which the shapeshifter was born, according to the Maya calender. Naguals can be either good or evil. The good ones become a protector of the people, while the evil ones become witches that steal and murder according to their own desires. According to legend it is typical that Naguals can cast other kinds of magic, such as curses. In some legends however, The shapeshifters exist to punish those who collaborate with non-Maya people. I think it is almost assured we are going to see these beings included. I hope that it won’t only be in an overt way, where you already know the Nagual’s identity, say in combat. What if we were given a situation where we are investigating a cry for help in the jungle, causing us to go out of our way to save someone and we realize too late that we sprung a trap set by a nagual? This scenario would definitely be engaging and offer some heart-pounding action!
The second creature that might be included is the Huay Chivo, which literally translates to ‘sorcerer goat’ or ‘witch goat’. If that name wasn’t a good enough reason to include this thing, imagine a massive beast/man hybrid with burning red eyes that emerges at night to either feed or mess with the minds of any humans it comes across. This creature has the ability to inflict disease as well as cast a number of curses upon it’s victims. It’s impossible to tell whether Crystal Dynamics with use a literal interpretation or a variation such as in the Baba Yaga DLC, but the imagery is too good to pass up.
All in all, the locale seems to be a great choice for the francise and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store. What do you think we’ll face in the new Tomb Raider? Let us know in the comments!