At Pax West 2018 we met with Daniel Chayer-Bisson, senior game director, and Mario Chabtini, senior producer, on Shadow of the Tomb Raider to talk a little bit about some new features coming to the historic franchise in just over a week. They demonstrated new stealth mechanics, some of which we discussed in our E3 preview of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and touched on a new way to control difficulty settings to your liking. We also had the chance to play one of the puzzle tombs and explore a little more of the underwater features coming to the game.
Choose Your Difficulty
For the first time in the series, players will be able to adjust difficulty settings for Combat, Exploration, and Traversal.
The combat difficulty setting is what previous Tomb Raider titles have had and allows players to dial down or up the difficulty of the combat encounters. Enemy AI, in general, has become smarter, but there are less overall combat encounters in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The difficulty has been ramped up to allow for Lara to be more powerful and have more control.
“We have fewer combat set up, but because of that we could push the evenlope and the game is harder in general because Lara is now more powerful. The more control you provide to the player, the easier the game becomes, ” said Daniel Chayer-Bisson, senior game director.
The Exploration difficulty is all about how tough the puzzle will be. It centers mostly around the speed at which puzzle must be completed and how lenient the various traps in tombs are. At the easiest setting, you’ll have some time to solve each puzzle, while at the most difficult setting, tombs will be downright nasty in their attempts to kill you.
The third difficulty setting deals with Traversal. In previous Tomb Raider titles, white marks guided the way, pointing out where to climb, where to jump, and most importantly, showed the correct path to run along during various escape sequences. Dial up the traversal difficulty in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, however, and those marks will be gone and it will be entirely up to you to navigate Lara to safety.
Each of the difficulty settings has three different settings, allowing you to customize exactly how much and in which areas you want to be challenged.
New Social Spaces and Underwater Puzzles
Social hubs are a relatively new concept to the Tomb Raider series and serve as a place for Lara to pick up side missions, find out information about challenge tombs, and progress the storyline further. The Hidden City of Paititi is a massive city which is discovered during the middle of the game, but there is another social hub earlier on, as well as a Spanish mission with a smaller social hub later on.
“People to meet, side missions, information to get, challenge tombs, all that, it’s all there, ” said Daniel Chayer-Bisson as an explanation of how these social hubs will integrate into the overall story arch that Lara is on.
The social hubs will lead Lara to hidden tombs, many of which are taking advantage of new underwater puzzles that you will have to face. I had the chance to play an underwater puzzle tomb set up by the Mayans to test the big waters of the time.
Daniel explained that the way Lara found out about this challenge tomb is that “when you explore Paititi, people are talking about a place that people don’t come back, so Lara finds this special place.”
These new mechanics should help integrate the various collectibles, challenge tombs, and secrets more closely into the story as Lara discovers them organically. Even parts of the lore will be managed via a journal that Lara keeps. Here she will make notes about relics that you’ve discovered and her thoughts on the various NPCs and characters she encounters.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider will allow players to experience Lara’s story in a more natural fashion and tailor the game’s difficulty to their individual desires. We’re excited to get our hands on Shadow of the Tomb Raider when it releases on September 14.