Activision has unveiled a new-look Lara Croft who’s set to hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone as part of Season 5 Reloaded, and the design has certainly set tongues wagging within the Tomb Raider community.
Lara Croft arrives in Call of Duty as a store bundle operator, with the Tracer Pack: Tomb Raider bundle adding Lara’s signature Mach-5 dual pistols based on a new sidearm coming to Call of Duty. These pistols are also used in Lara’s Play for Sport finishing move.
But it’s images of Lara in Call of Duty released by Activision that some fans are calling our first look at the new “unified” Lara Croft.
In early 2021, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Tomb Raider, developer Crystal Dynamics shared some information on its next, currently unannounced Tomb Raider, saying it’s “working to unify” the timelines of Core Design’s original games and its own reboot trilogy that began in 2013.
While the reboot trilogy told the origin story of Lara Croft becoming the Tomb Raider, the original games “featured a seasoned and confident adventurer”, said game director Will Kerslake. The development team said it envisions “a future of Tomb Raider unfolding after these established adventures, telling stories that build upon the breadth of both Core Design and Crystal Dynamics’ games, working to unify these timelines”.
More recently, Tomb Raider reemerged as PowerWash Simulator DLC that let you clean Lara Croft’s mansion. There’s also a Tomb Raider animated series in the works for Netflix. Hayley Atwell, who plays Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is cast as the voice of Lara Croft.
Does Call of Duty’s Lara Croft offer a first look at the Lara we’ll see in the upcoming new game? Fans are torn, with some suggesting we’re seeing an older “survivor” Lara, and a return to Lara’s iconic dual pistols, classic outfit, braid hairstyle, and backpack, with no sign of the bow and arrows seen in the latest games. Others say what we’re seeing here is simply Activision’s Lara Croft, which may have nothing to do with Crystal Dynamics’ Lara Croft.
In August 2022, Embracer Group completed the buyout of Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montréal, Square Enix Montréal, and a “catalogue of IPs including Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, Legacy of Kain and more than 50 back-catalogue games from Square Enix Holdings” for $300 million. Then, in December 2022, Amazon Games signed a deal with Crystal Dynamics to support the development of and publish the next mainline Tomb Raider game, which is being made in Unreal Engine 5.
A relatively vague description of the new game was also shared, though it essentially conforms to what players would expect from Crystal Dynamics’ next game. “The as-yet-untitled new Tomb Raider game is a single-player, narrative-driven adventure that continues Lara Croft’s story in the Tomb Raider series.
“It includes all the elements that have made Tomb Raider one of the most revered franchises in gaming, giving players control of the confident and multidimensional hero Lara Croft in an environment that rewards exploration and creative pathfinding, with mind-bending puzzles to solve, and a wide variety of enemies to face and overcome.
“Crystal Dynamics is drawing on the power and cutting-edge technology of Unreal Engine 5 to take storytelling to the next level, in the biggest, most expansive Tomb Raider game to date. The title is currently in early development, and additional details will be announced at a later date.”
Half a year later, in June 2023, Embracer announced plans to close studios, cancel games, and lay staff off just weeks after a $2 billion contract deal fell through. At the time, Crystal Dynamics insisted its Tomb Raider project and the contract development it was doing on Perfect Dark for Microsoft studio The Initiative were not impacted by the Embracer restructure.
Also in June this year, Fleabag creator and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge confirmed she is working on a Tomb Raider streaming series for Amazon’s Prime Video. It was previously reported that she would script and executive produce the series based on the long-running video game franchise.
For more on Lara Croft, check out how to play the Tomb Raider games in chronological order.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or confidentially at email@example.com.
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Author: Wesley Yin-Poole