We discuss Lara’s motivations, multiplayer and Mexico with game director Dan Bisson and senior producer Mario Chabtini
Mexico was teased as the next location at the end of the previous game. What kind of freedoms did you have when it came to choosing the specific locations within that geographical area? Daniel Bisson: I was on Rise at the time, and we knew before Rise was finished where we wanted to go for this game. Mario Chabtini: This was a setting where we could push our new Lara. That was the most important thing. So did you always have Mexico in mind, from the start of the whole trilogy? DB: No, that came up later on. We tried to do something different. After Yamatai, we said ‘what is the most dangerous place?’ The team are in California, so of course snow is very frightening [laughs] so we said let’s go with snow. Noah (Hughes) was the creative director on Rise and we were working together, and he said ‘now you’re going to be the creative director on Shadow – where do you want to take it?’ We started talking about it and I said I would love to take it to South America. He said okay, and he asked whether it was okay if he put it at the end of the game. I said ‘that’s fine!’ because we didn’t want to stop the story there, we wanted to have continuity between the two. Even though we want people to play Shadow without having played the two previous ones and still follow the story and understand it, for the fans we wanted to make sure there was this continuity between the two. And then you could choose where to go beyond that, and you chose to go to Peru as well? DB: Yeah, although we explored a lot of places. But we said North America, Mexico, then we went to Peru. What were the key historical influences you used when creating the world and the story for Shadow? DB: For the world itself it was a lot of things. I got married in Mexico so that also helped [laughs]. We had a lot of people go to Mexico and Peru. We have historians working on the game, and linguistic experts, which you see in the introduction. We really wanted to make sure we were very respectful of the culture. There’s a reason in the story for that, and you’ll see once you get into the story. After the flood it goes crazy… but I’ll stop there. So it was really important for us to be respectful of the culture, and especially of the language. For the jungle we did a lot of research. There are some magnificent things called Planet Earth and Planet Earth II, and stuff on the web. As we were exploring more of the jungle we realised it was the right choice because it’s the most dangerous place in the world. Of course Trinity is involved again, but it also seems that Lara is the cause of this huge, cataclysmic event… DB: She is. There’s no question about it. It’s a consequence of her actions. This is her defining moment – this is where she becomes a Tomb Raider – but to do that she needs to learn a lot about consequences. It’s the kind of thing she would do in Rise, but it wouldn’t really have a lot of consequences, she was
more reacting to the consequences of the actions of others. In this case we wanted to start the story solidly by saying ‘your obsession is causing this’. And what about the mysterious voice we heard at the end of Rise? Will we get to find out more about them this time around? DB: [laughs] Yeah, you’ve probably already seen him. Okay, we’ll leave that there. Will she get double pistols in this game? It was a cool moment in the first Tomb Raider but fans are still desperate to dual-wield… DB: No. I don’t want that. For us this is her defining moment… but we’re not going to put her in shorts with double-pistols, wearing a bikini; that’s not what this is. It’s because the twin pistols have an iconic thing about them. For this trilogy – not saying anything about later on, I don’t know about future titles – but for this trilogy the bow is still her signature weapon. MC: If you’re thinking that the two guns are a representation of Lara being really driven, then you can be sure that we will be providing a version of Lara that’s really driven with Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. DB: But there are no two pistols. I’ll be direct with that. ‘Are there going to be dinosaurs in the game?’ NO! No dinosaurs! [laughs] Oh man, we’re so disappointed! [laughs] What about her skills – we’ve talked about rappelling, are there other things she can do now, too? DB: Yes, a lot of things. I can say, though, that what we call the secondary system – the survival system – everything that she’s doing in Rise, like crafting, finding resources… we’re exploding that way more. The RPG element is way stronger, because we want you to create the type of Lara you want to create. It also
“We tried something different. After Yamatai, we said ‘what is the most dangerous place?’”
showcases how she’s much more confident and in control now, so we’ve expanded that a lot more. Dan, we know you’ve worked on a lot of mo-cap, audio etc, as well as more narrative things. Does having such a varied background help when it comes to working as a game director? DB: It is helping, for multiple reasons. It’s funny that you said that because on a previous project when I was at Ubisoft a long time ago – I’ve been on this project for eight years – I was doing a lot of directing of mocap. Where it does help, is where we’re saying this is Lara’s defining moment, this is her personal journey, and an emotional journey – it helps a lot when we’re saying ‘how can we bring emotion not just through the dialogue but through her actions?’ In the flood, for example, you’re feeling something completely different, or when you’re rappelling down and there’s a skull in the rock, you have this emotion. For me, I see the world, and the character’s place in it, and the dialogue has a way to express all of this emotion. Did you do a lot of mo-cap with actors and actresses for the game? Is it pretty much all mo-cap? DB: I would say everything is mo-cap. Camilla [Luddington] is the heart and soul of this game, and is very important. Of course, we didn’t throw her off a cliff [laughs] so there are moments that are less mo-capped. We did push real people… they didn’t come back to complain so we’re okay [laughs]. Mario, am I right in thinking that a lot of your work at Ubisoft was focused on the multiplayer aspects of the game? Does that mean we can expect to see a full multiplayer mode return in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider? MC: We won’t have competitive multiplayer, but we’ll have extended gameplay that we’ll talk more about later. DB: We think fans will be pleased. We’ve listened to the fans, and we’re adding a new twist to it that we’ll be talking about later. I’ll let your imagination go wild. Nothing like the original 2013 game, then? DB No, nothing like that. It is something we tried.
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