I am, like an impatient child waiting for my mother to stop talking to her friend so we can finally go home from the store, angrily tapping my feet and checking my watch wondering when we'll find out about the next Tomb Raider game. By the time whatever the next game is launches, we'll be deep into the biggest drought the series has ever known, although quie how you can be both deep and in a drought is currently unclear. All we know of the game so far comes from vague leaks which may end up very different to the final game, and the suggestion that it will unite the Survivor Trilogy and the Legend Trilogy, which feels an impossible ask given the differences in the ages, personalities, and mythos of Lara in those two sets of games. Mostly though, what I know is that I'm already bored of talking about Lara's new design, and we haven't even seen it yet.
The Tomb Raider fandom has a lot of strong feelings about Lara's image. Her early look, the turquoise tank top, red shades, dark cut offs, leather boots, and twin pistols, was an iconic look. Let's all ignore Angel of Darkness and skip ahead from this original design to her look in Tomb Raider: Legend, which is almost as famous and almost as popular. The bottom half of the outfit was kept the same, while the turquoise vest was changed to a chocolate brown tank with an exposed midriff and a white triangle over the chest to avoid leering oversexualisation, and the glasses were ditched entirely. She still looked more like a video game starlet than a real adventurer, but it was an aesthetic tweak that most people could get behind, even if some preferred the turquoise. Legend also featured a range of context dependent outfits, like her Tokyo cocktail dress, and remains my favourite interpretation of Lara.
The point is, even as Legend (and then Underworld) played with the original design, fans were on board with it. The Survivor Trilogy took a big swing and, though it was praised at the time, fans have since soured on it. Tomb Raider (2013) was a reboot for the series, casting a much younger Lara in a more grounded story. She remained in a single locale and, as a result, had just one outfit. You could upgrade parts of it throughout the trilogy and more customisation became unlocked, but Lara's canon look was always very down to earth. She wears a grey vest, filthy with blood and mud, cargo pants, boots, and often sported a bandage. Rise continued this look for Lara, though it gave her more preparation for the cold environments she ran around in.
In TR, she was a shipwreck survivor so had to make do with what she had. In Rise, she could wear a thick overcoat when exploring the snowy mountains, then strip down to a more sensible outfit when the situation called for it, without ever needing to look 'undressed'. Shadow was less warmly received all around, but mostly followed Rise's footsteps when it came to Lara's outfit. All of these choices, while less exciting than her many looks in Legend, perfectly suited the aesthetics, tone, and intention of the game, and fans seemed to understand that. As the dust settles on the Survivor Era, though (and in the void in which we sit waiting for what comes next), I've noticed fans begin to rally against the look.
It's true, Lara's outfit was a little action hero-y, but the basics of it could translate well enough into a more realistic setting. It's a blue vest and shorts with boots. Even the glasses could be kept – plenty of fan art tones down the edginess of Lara's look while keeping the spirit – and we've seen many superheroes with ridiculous ink and paper costumes receive a more flattering homage when brought to the big screen. WandaVision even played into this, having Wanda and Vision dress in an entirely comic book accurate fashion for a Halloween night, before revealing Wanda's 'true' MCU Scarlet Witch look. But I don't think they have to for Lara – not when her Survivor looks were perfect for her.
The leaked artwork does suggest it's just a repeat of Survivor, and after the three trilogies (plus Angel) all brought distinct looks, it would be disappointing for her to just look how she does in Rise again, even if that is one of her best games. But the arguments already swirling that she needs to go back to the original look don't hold up either – this would again break the rules of a new look for a new era.
We've been waiting so long for a new Tomb Raider, and in absence of any news, we're coming up with ways to hate it before we even know what it is. When the new Tomb Raider is revealed, there's already a laundry list of things it needs to fulfil otherwise it's a betrayal and a disaster. If it's bad, I'll be the first to complain, but let's at least see it before we hate it this time.
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