Q&A

We dis­cuss Lara’s mo­ti­va­tions, mul­ti­player and Mex­ico with game direc­tor Dan Bis­son and se­nior pro­ducer Mario Chab­tini

XBox: The Official Magazine - - SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER -

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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