Shadow of the Tomb Raider has received its long-awaited release, and those players who had been anticipating a fitting end to this arc of Lara Croft’s story were met with one. Although the finale of the game may have been a little bit of the cryptic side when it comes to the game’s own lore and prophecies, prompting some to need a bit of an explanation about the game’s end, nonetheless it aimed to close the page on this particular chapter of Tomb Raider.
However, this could leave long-term fans of the franchise asking some questions about the future of Tomb Raider as a whole. After all, this reboot-meets-prequel series from Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal was an attempt to both bring the franchise into the modern day and deliver a fitting entry point for the story of Lara Croft as a character.
As such, some may be wondering exactly what Shadow of the Tomb Raider means for the future of the series, and for the character of Lara Croft as well. Thankfully, there are a fair few choices that publisher Square Enix could pursue with the property, although they do have the option of waiting for a while yet before deciding to plunge back into the world of Tomb Raider.
Those hoping to see Crystal Dynamics or Eidos Montreal delve deep into another crypt for Tomb Raider in the short term might be left disappointed, however. The end of the game certainly puts Lara Croft herself on a bit of a hiatus, returning back home to her mansion to wanting to spend some time "around the living." So, from either studio's mind at least, it looks as though they’re happy to give Lara bit of time off. Perhaps this opens the door for a return for the more mature Lara seen in the earlier games in the series.
Beyond this, of course, there’s the reality that Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal are busy working on another property. The developers are working on The Avengers, an adaptation that has required Crystal Dynamics to open up an additional studio to help work on the project. At the moment, little is known about the game beyond a few hints dropped by Square Enix, and the game was absent from the likes of E3 2018.
As such, it could be some time before Crystal Dynamics or Eidos Montreal is able to work on another Tomb Raider game. After all, it seems as though The Avengers is still some way from being released, and with such a huge intellectual property as that on the cards, the developers will want to hit all the marks with the game. This is perhaps compounded with the huge reception that the PS4 exclusive Spider-Man has received, so all eyes will be on the next triple-A Marvel game.
Tomb Raider has had its fair share of games over the years, even spin-off games such as Lara Croft Go. Crystal Dynamics itself also developed Tomb Raider games outside of the most recent trilogy, namely Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. And so, there’s always a chance that another developer could be given a crack at developing a game in a different manner to these more recent cinematic experiences.
The important thing, of course, is that Eidos Montreal has left the door open for further games – even those within it and Crystal Dynamics' version of the Tomb Raider story. The game ends with Lara having one of those rare moments of peace, but there’s no reason this peace couldn’t be broken for another adventure. Equally, Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s finale also sits as a fitting end to that arc, and perhaps to that version of Lara Croft, with a line drawn under the villainous Trinity and Croft herself apparently enjoying a moment of relaxation.
There’s now a great level of flexibility to be found in the future of Tomb Raider, and this is something that Square Enix should relish. After all, Tomb Raider has previously been a little hit and miss when attempting to reinvent itself, so the next time Lara Croft returns Square Enix will want the series to have the same impact as these most recent releases.
The series is bound to be back sometime, of course: it’s one of the most iconic franchises around and is now part of the video game hall of fame. However, it's worth bearing in mind that if Crystal Dynamics or Eidos Montreal are to ever return to the property, it could be some time. That said, the door is always open for Square Enix to turn to another studio to give it a crack in the meantime.