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Breaking-down the trailer


The gameplay trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider has finally been shown off to the public! If you haven’t caught it yet, then what are you waiting for?? Head over to Survivor Reborn right away and give us your thoughts.

The trailer was first revealed to those who completed the gameplay demo at the press events back in April, but we were so excited it was impossible to take it all in.

On review, a lot of the footage has been taken from the gameplay demo we played two months ago, but there were also some intriguing references and symbolism throughout.

Let’s swan-dive right in!

We open with Jonah and Lara sitting around a campfire: it sounds like Lara is recalling a vision.



We see flashes of the eclipse. A human sacrifice.

I expect that this is taken from the large hub area, the secret city mentioned by several sources that will change according to Lara’s actions.


Very reminiscent of Tomb of Qualopec

Will we be able to save this man? The CG trailer for Shadow does show Lara preventing a sacrifice, after all. But given the frequent mention of Lara’s actions having consequences, would there be a reason not to?


Can we prevent this? And how will it affect the world if we do?

So, I guess we’re going to see a little of the supernatural as the game progresses with Lara having visions linked to the end of the world.


With Lara’s talk about visions, and the fact that the artefacts she and Trinity are hunting could grant the power to ‘remake the world’, the stylistic use of mirror images may have a deeper symbolic meaning. More on that later!

Moving on: the Trailer shows off a lot of tombs! Finally!!


The truth about Dad? The end of the world? Trinity? Hmm.

I hope we see many moments like this is the main game: making your way into a tomb and being presented with an obvious prize. This evoked memories of the sidelined challenge tombs from Rise, and finding the Scion (or any number of artefacts) from previous titles.

This is very much what I play classic Tomb Raider for, and it’ll be nice to see more of this in the new series.


Here’s hoping that Lara’s questions will all be tied-up in a neat little bow by the end and she can get to playing for sport, am I right?

We move on to Lara attending a Day of the Dead celebration, which we gushed about during our impressions podcast. The use of colour in this area in particular is beautiful in-game.


This very much set the scene for the disaster to come by grounding it in reality: there was a real cost to Lara’s impulsiveness when you realise that most of the people in this area wind up dead.


After a brief time exploring this social area, Lara casts-off her Day-of-the-Dead disguise and makes her way down to the coastal cave/temple within.


Oh to have triceps like that

Lara on a clifftop overlooking a village.


Is this the large hub area that has been mentioned? Or is this another area entirely? Certainly there is a lot of scope for disaster here.

Traversal with ropes was shown off a lot. Abseiling using the climbing axes is a welcome feature, rather than using rope arrows for everything.


More juxtaposed/mirror images. Hmmm…

Here, Lara is seen descending towards her prize from the gameplay demo.


This is the tomb/temple from the gameplay demo. SO atmospheric.

The mural in front of Lara is particular interesting. More on that later too!

I hope we see similar puzzles to this in-game and not just in cutscenes. Here, Lara realises that the gems on the wheel show a particular constellation, but it’s out of alignment.


A quick twist and Lara is presented with the dagger that supposedly sets the apocalypse in motion.


Pretty! I don’t think we have a name for it yet…?

I’ve seen a lot of talk online about how the graphics are worse than Rise. Personally, I think the use of colour visually elevates it above the bland Reboot and Rise. It also looks like Lara’s hair has been toned down, too, thankfully!


Jonah tries to talk her out of it but Lara is blinded by her desire to stop Trinity. Her impulsiveness could be her undoing.

Ahh, the big-bad of Trinity! Flanked by his henchmen, he’s clearly not a man to mess with.


Ahh, the big bad! Fresh from the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Lara shows herself to still be rather unprepared for confrontation, despite bringing the right equipment. Confronted by these men, she doesn’t think to check her flank and is promptly bashed.


If only you had two of them, eh??

We talked at length in our podcast how Lara was given a dressing-down by this guy. He seriously cannot believe that she has blindly stumbled in to this tomb and removed the artefact without knowing what’s at stake.


‘Now it falls to me to sort out your mess, Lara!’

He seems to genuinely care about the fate of the world. Are we seeing a villain whose motivation is the greater good? Or when it comes down to it, ARE Trinity the bad guys?

Was Lara’s Dad killed for trying to stop them? Or did they have to stop him?

Nah, it’s probably going to be pretty standard. But still, I like that this villain isn’t twirling his moustache at us.


You should probably get running, Lara.

Lara wasn’t quick enough at making her escape and is washed through the soon-to-be-decimated village. This really was an epic set-piece with nature tearing through these man-made structures, leaving behind only rubble.


Lara sinks beneath the waves: a VERY familiar shot. I guess this is a ‘see how she has come full circle’ reference.


Remind you of anything??

This was the sombre part of the demo: a lengthy underwater section where she has to swim past dead bodies and make her way through a submerged bus.


The sound design of this whole scene was on point

All in all, that whole sequence was amazing to play. I can’t wait to give it another go!

We see a fair bit of the combat mechanics, too. Some is old, such as pulling guards underwater.


Lara still likes to drown unsuspecting guards.

Some of it, however, is new, such as the beefed-up stealth. Here, we have Lara camouflaged in vines, covered in mud as a guard walks by.


Lara could have done with a BIT more mud, though.


The mud? The hairstyle?

One of many mirrored images in the trailer that I mentioned at the top of the article.


Goodbye wolves and bears, hello leopards!


Clever girls.

I do hope that this confrontation is NOT a cutscene or quick-time event. Interestingly, one of the accepted collective nouns for jaguars is a supposedly a ‘shadow‘.


Look familiar?

As a life-long fan of the Alien movies (including the mainly unfairly maligned Alien3), I approve of this reference!


Angel of Darkness was the Alien3 of Tomb Raider, when you think about it..

More puzzle solving, this time with Jonah: is this how the co-op tombs will work in the dlc?


Jonah giving Lara a boost up to some statue with a light shining onto what looks like a saintly halo. The Christian iconography implies we’re still in Mexico at this point.


A rather intriguing looking light-reflection puzzle in a church of some kind

Possibly some old-school pushing of blocks/lever action. Or just closing a crypt lid. Who knows?


A LEVER mechanism?!

After directing the light correctly, the mural behind the altar opens up:


This is the big cross behind the altar two pics above.

More consequences! The temple we saw earlier in trailer (pic #6 in this blog); has Lara stolen something else which will cause more disasters?? Is this the silver box that must be combined with the dagger to remake the world?


Oh Lara, you and your sticky fingers.

More shots from the gameplay demo: Lara running and jumping as she tries to get to higher ground as the tsunami rages. Traffic lights etc. below.

This was actually rather tricky: gone are the ‘magnetic’ jumps. You must be precise under pressure as the waves close in on you.


Lara getting to higher ground while the tsunami rages

The voiceover at this point in the trailer is the much-discussed scene where Jonah tells Lara that this isn’t just about her.


Ugh, more mercs.

You can see the scene between Jonah and Lara being mocapped here.

If we have to defeat another helicopter in battle I think I might scream: here, a helicopter crashes into what looks like an oil refinery and explodes, the blast knocking Lara backwards.


Another helicopter boss?

Lara sits surveying the chaos of the tsunami while the image below (as if a reflection) is actually Lara facing the camera looking disheartened.


“You need to trust me!” she implores Jonah, while bashing in some poor bloke’s head.


We see a couple more flashes; Lara with her bow, Lara again with her axes..


That’s one mighty-fine bow you’re aiming..

A bi-plane flying towards a jungle hillside. The cloudy skies give a great sense of foreboding. Lara and Jonah discuss the need to trust each other.


Ominous.. and potentially sign of the apocalypse #2. More info further down!

I imagine that this is a reconciliation of sorts after the argument from the demo gameplay.

Lara sliding down a zipline as things explode under/around her.


Deja vu?

This is the usual action sequence we’ve come to expect from the reboot games and is a bit played-out. This seems to be the same location as where the helicopter crashed.

Lara climbing a rotating column with various protruding hazards, showing off some potentially amazing platforming that has, in my opinion, been missing from the reboot series until now.


Footage from the gameplay demo, Lara’s encounter with an eel and the QTE to free herself from its grasp.


Surprise hugs!

Quick shot of Lara climbing up through the submerged crevice from the gameplay demo. As a claustrophobic person, I’m not looking forward to reliving this.


This is probably my worst nightmare.

Lara hanging from a cliff, opposite a giant stone skull from the first screenshots. This is just before she works her way into the tomb where she finds the dagger.


This is the combat mechanism discussed in our podcast; Lara shoots someone with a rope arrow from a perch, then dangles to string them up.


Lara wall running: a welcome returning technique!


Jumping and clinging to a dangling cage over a pit. This was also taken from the gameplay demo. It’s a weight-based physics puzzle where Lara has to make her way across the chasm using several dangling cages.


More rope-based traversal, getting closer to the dagger puzzle.


Potential free climbing up a cliff rather than using axes? Vault-jump with more natural-looking handholds? I love climbing walls in real life and would rather see more of this kind of climbing versus using the axes all the time.


A huge trap mechanism; we see Lara rolling underneath a limb as it comes towards her. Might the scramble be upgraded to allow Lara to roll without scurrying first? Or will this be a slow-mo sequence/QTE?


Oh my.

This appears to be the spider-like device mentioned in the mechanism video.

Lara behind a merc, bow drawn at point-blank range. The developers have mentioned Lara using fear and intimidation in combat.



Is this a cutscene or can Lara threaten/hold people up, aka Metal Gear Solid? Or is Lara going for a bit of overkill?


Lara jumping a loooong way down into a body of water, in a tombstone dive rather than swan dive which is a bit of a missed opportunity.


The dive animation in Rise was rather weak. Hopefully we’ll see something rather more refined in Shadow.

Lara sinking, holding on to an item of some kind.

silver box.jpg

Is this the ‘Silver Box’ which must be combined with the dagger to remake the world?

Lara in front of a flamey corona; is this some mystical device, or has Lara set off another disaster?


Another sign of the apocalypse?

More tombs!! You can just about see Lara at the foot of the monument.


Is it climbable??

A face-off between the protagonist and antagonist. Is he the dark side of Lara, or is she the dark side of him?


And who is the third party, teased in one of the developer diaries??

Lara in front of a person dressed in ritualistic garb? Looks a bit scary!


Two humanoids wearing fur and armour: fearsome foes, indeed!



Yes, definitely don’t want to encounter you on a dark night.

Closing the trailer, we flashback to Lara and Jonah at the campfire. She asks Jonah, “if you had that power (to remake the world) what would you do?”


Make sure Natla suffers?

The trailer ends with this epic shot of Lara emerging from the water in silhouette, surrounded by flames.


Oops, wrong shot



That’s better 😉

So, what can we take away from this?

The trailer is really keen to show off temples and tombs, which is great to see. This is the kind of sight which can set Tomb Raider apart from its contemporaries, and has been sadly missing from the reboot series so far.

There were a few exploding action set-pieces. We’ve seen this so many times in the reboot trilogy now and it always seems to be the same old thing. I wasn’t thrilled to see another potential helicopter battle.

Platforming and traversal feature heavily, which is great to see, as well as a lack of focus on combat (contrary to the combat-heavy gameplay showed off during Square Enix’s set). Hopefully this bodes well for the full game: I’m tired of mowing down mercenaries rather than solving puzzles.

Interestingly, there are lots of symmetrical mirrored images in the trailer.


In ancient Mayan culture, the belief was that mirrors could be used for seeing the past, the future…


… Or even act as a portal to another realm.

Are we going to be dealing with alternative realities? I wonder if we might see Lara being given the opportunity to remake the world at the end of the game..

Might Lara change the past as part of becoming the Tomb Raider she’s destined to be?

She’ll likely smash the artefact at the end, after preventing the end of the world, but the possibilities are nonetheless intriguing.

 I personally hope we don’t see Lara talking to her father/mother across a time divide as in Legend or the first Tomb Raider film.

Unfortunately, simple Lara does show up.

mural edit.jpg

Judging by the mural Lara finds – but evidently doesn’t interpret! – we’re to expect many more disasters. You can see the great flood on the left, which happens almost immediately after Lara removes the dagger. After this, there is a storm and a downpour (perhaps this helps us to place the bi-plane scene with the ominous clouds), followed by an earthquake and finally a volcanic eruption. I look forward to seeing them all depicted in-game!

All in all, I am SO hyped and personally cannot wait for Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

What did you think of the trailer? Did you pick-up on anything we missed? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel 🙂


Written by Matt Taylor. Edited by J. R. Milward.

Breaking-down the trailer by Matt Taylor / Survivor Reborn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work here.


About Matt Taylor (8 Articles)
Classic TR series and tennis fanatic. Lazy artist, drinker of spirits and eater of cheesecake.

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