Lara Croft Was Already Branded A ‘Neocolonialist’ After Shadow Of The Tomb Raider And The Latest Rumor Only Escalates Things

Crystal Dynamics will have to be careful with the rumored setting of the next Tomb Raider game.

shadow of the tomb raider

SUMMARY

  • A new Tomb Raider game is rumored to be in the works, with Lara Croft exploring a vast open world in India.
  • Crystal Dynamics, aware of past criticisms, is committed to respectful cultural portrayals in the new game, possibly with a focus on non-lethal combat for a more mature Lara.
  • Specific details are unconfirmed, but India's cultural sensitivity demands careful representation from the developers.
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The Tomb Raider franchise is reportedly coming back with a new game, with iconic protagonist Lara Croft rumored to be venturing to the sprawling, colorful lands of India. The last entry in the franchise, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, released six years ago.

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It’s been common knowledge that a new entry has been in the works at the studio for some time, but with this potential open-world title, Crystal Dynamics has a chance to ensure respectful cultural portrayals within the franchise, something the last game stumbled with.

The Big Controversy Shadow of the Tomb Raider Courted

The last Tomb Raider title sparked debate about neocolonialism from protagonist Lara Croft. | Crystal Dynamics
The last Tomb Raider title sparked debate about neocolonialism from protagonist Lara Croft | Crystal Dynamics

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft’s interactions with indigenous cultures led to some reviews labeling her as a “neocolonialist.” Crystal Dynamics acknowledged these concerns and expressed a commitment to respectful representation moving forward. This commitment included collaborating with historians and cultural consultants during development.

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It’s certainly never our intention to [do] anything disrespectful toward any culture or make it seem as if Lara herself is disrespectful of those cultures,” said Rich Briggs, senior brand director of Crystal Dynamics, in an interview with VentureBeat.

He also explained that the game makes it a point for Lara to realize “that it’s not just all about her,” and that the relationships she forms and the “revelations” she has with certain characters are indicators of a deeper narrative that hopefully dispels the neocolonialism debates.

The Next Mainline Game Could Be Open World

The next entry in the franchise is rumored to foray into new territory, literally and figuratively. | Crystal Dynamics
The next entry in the franchise is rumored to foray into new territory, literally and figuratively | Crystal Dynamics

Details about the rumored new Tomb Raider game are hazy as of now, but whispers suggest a significant departure from the previous trilogy’s linear structure. India itself would serve as an enormous open world, teeming with diverse biomes and environments for Lara to explore.

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Players could traverse the map using a variety of methods, including motorcycles for traversing open terrain and parachutes for navigating steep cliffs. Classic traversal techniques associated with Lara, like grappling hooks and climbing, are also likely to be present.

The rumored storyline centers around a natural disaster that unearths the long-lost ruins and artifacts of emperor Ashoka. Lara finds herself embroiled in a race against a new group called the “Society of Raiders” and potentially other rivals, all vying to claim these powerful relics.

Another interesting rumor suggests the combat could see a shake-up. An emphasis on non-lethal combat options could depart from Lara’s past depictions as a relentless fighter. This potential evolution could reflect a more mature Lara, one who prioritizes resourcefulness and strategic thinking over brute force.

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Accurate representation of Indian culture is a must | Crystal Dynamics
Accurate representation of Indian culture is a must | Crystal Dynamics

While the setting does sound quite intriguing, Crystal Dynamics must be exceedingly careful with India’s representation. The country is very protective of its culture, and has banned games in the past for misconstruing it. For example, Fallout New Vegas never made it to India over a two-headed cow enemy in the game that was dubbed the “Brahmin.”

It’s also important to remember that these rumors are currently unsubstantiated. Crystal Dynamics has confirmed a new Tomb Raider game in development, but specifics like setting, gameplay, and story have yet to be officially revealed. Whenever they do, though, they better tread carefully.

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Written by Viraaj Bhatnagar

Articles Published: 238

A lifelong gamer, lover of cars, and Master's student of Automotive Journalism, Viraaj Bhatnagar is a gaming writer at FandomWire who aims to be one of the greats. When he's not hunched over on his laptop typing out copy, he can be found lapping circuits in Gran Turismo or slaying draugr in God of War.