Lara Croft is a very different character in Crystal Dynamics’ upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. In the original Tomb Raider games, Lara was depicted as an elegant, confident and aristocratic explorer. She came from a wealthy background, had her very own mansion (and butler), and constantly travelled the world in search of adventure, with no apparent financial concerns whatsoever.
In contrast, the new Lara Croft is a young, inexperienced woman with a passion for archaeology. She isn’t elegant, she certainly isn’t confident, and little is known of her family background. However, Crystal Dynamics haven’t done away with Lara’s wealthy family roots in their re-imagining. According to the game’s writer, Rhianna Pratchett, Lara still comes from a wealthy background.
“Lara definitely comes from money. Her father is titled,” Pratchett shares in a recent Crystal Dynamics podcast. “At the start of the game her parents are missing. They’ve been missing for a number of years. That side of things is not touched in the game. Her parents don’t appear. So she technically has access to that money, but she doesn’t want to touch it for a number of reasons.”
Pratchett elaborates: “For one, she very much wants to stand on her own two feet. She’s very… I don’t know about stubborn, but she wants to make her own way in the world on her own terms. She puts herself through university. She works several jobs in order to do so, one of which she mentions in the game. She talks about a late shift at the Nine Bells. She doesn’t use her family’s money to do that. She does it herself. Also, because her parents are missing, she doesn’t want to touch that money, because it would sort of be tantamount to admitting that they’re really gone, that they’re not going to come back.”
These aspects of Lara’s past aren’t explored in the games, but are explored in the promotional Tomb Raider comics that take place in the weeks running up to the events of the game. Lara’s wealth is tied up in trusts and various other arrangements, so she can’t access any of it.
These changes, Pratchett—who is also involved with the comics—says, were made to make Lara feel more relatable, and less like a character who has the ability to throw money and fancy gadgets at every problem, adding that: “She might get there one day, but this is how Lara feels at 21.”
Pratchett provides her thoughts with regard to Lara’s trademark confidence, which is absent at the start of the new Tomb Raider as well.
“I know that some people have felt that we’re breaking down Lara in this game. That we’re taking a strong character and sort of breaking her down through the events that happen. But that’s really not the case,” Pratchett says.
She continues: “What we’re doing is taking her back to a time when she didn’t have the answers to everything. She didn’t have the guns and the gadgets to deal with every situation. She was seeing everything with fresh eyes and she didn’t know she was capable of doing these things. So she’s on that mission of self-discovery.”
The goal, Pratchett shares, is to allow Lara to discover that she does have all of the traits that Tomb Raider fans associate with her character.
“I think it was a little bit shocking to players, to see Lara being scared,” Pratchett admits. “You rarely see characters being scared, especially when they’re usually seen as so strong and capable. I think that was a bit of a shock for people. But we’re playing a long game with Lara. When you see Lara scared and asking Roth for help, that’s very early on in the game.”
You can listen to the full podcast with Pratchett here. Tomb Raider is scheduled for release on March 5th, 2013 on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.