I was trying to think of a topic to write about this week, but honestly, I’ve only had one thing on my mind. That would be Shadow of the Tomb Raider. So to make life easier for myself, I decided to write about Shadow of the Tomb Raider this week, because why the hell not?
I should state upfront, this is not a review. If you want to read our review, you can do so here. Instead, this will just be a loose organization of my thoughts and impressions of the game so far, kind of like my No Man’s Sky thoughts.
I’ll make this easy. If you don’t want to read my thoughts and just want to know whether or not I like this game, well, I guess the title gave it away. But let’s quietly ignore that for now. The TL;DR is that I’m loving Shadow of the Tomb Raider. If you want to know what I think of the game thus far, well by all means, keep reading.
As everyone knows, I prioritize graphics over other aspects of a game. In that sense, Dutch port house, Nixxes, have absolutely knocked it out of the park. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is drop dead beautiful on PC. It has the best DX12 implementation I’ve seen in a AAA game to date (though this is frankly needed given the eventual ray tracing implementation).
Primary character models like Lara are insanely detailed. Absolutely stunning detail. Seriously. Just look at pores and laugh lines here. Insane. Lighting, vegetation, geometry, everything just looks really nice and pretty. Personally, I can’t wait to see ray tracing implementation in its final form.
The expected boost in graphics aside, I’m loving Shadow of the Tomb Raider because of its improvements and gameplay and its more intimate character moments. There’s something about this game that, for me at least, makes it feel like more of a personal journey for Lara. And I definitely do appreciate it.
I’m only 20 hours in as of this writing, but I find this to be an improvement over previous games. There’s much more downtime and character building between Lara and Jonah. You just get so much more backstory, especially on one mission with Lara which I will not spoil here.
It’s these quieter moments that really stand out for me. I love the hub towns and the fact that Lara can actually interact with NPCs this time around. In fact, there’s an option in the settings to enable native language. Enabling this will allow the various native and indigenous characters to speak to Lara in their native tongue.
Yes, it’s slightly dissonant that Lara can understand them and replies in English, and that they then understand English, but whatever. Video games. For someone who can speak multiple languages and who generally loves language, this is just a cool touch, and I’m glad it was included.
I honestly don’t know what else to say, really, other than so far, I’m finding Shadow of the Tomb Raider to be an improvement over its two recent predecessors in every way. The tombs are awesome this time around. The crypts are awesome.
I love that there are independent difficulty settings for combat, exploration, and puzzles. For someone who hates combat in games like this (yes, I hate the combat in Uncharted as well), I appreciate that the game allows me to choose to have simpler combat but more complex exploration and puzzles, allowing me to focus on the things I love most about Tomb Raider.
Overall, I’m really loving the game. It feels more deliberate in pace than its predecessors, which I find to be a good thing. There’s simply more of everything I love about Tomb Raider. More detail. More characterization. Better graphics. More downtime. More true player choice. I’m loving the puzzles, I’m loving the story, and I can’t wait to go back and play more. In fact, I’m going to go do just that now. Also, every game should have photo mode.