One of the most iconic game series in the history of the industry, and a major reason why it was voted the best game of the year of its release (1996), Tomb Raider continues to be a hot property. There hasn’t been a new mainline game for Lara Croft since 2018, and it’s been even longer since the action heroine’s last big screen outing, but 2023 looks to be the year that Tomb Raider returns at least to one of those mediums.
While development on another project linking the Survivor Trilogy and original games was announced by Crystal Dynamics in 2021, the studio has since traded hands. Once belonging to Square Enix, the Tomb Raider IP was one of many gobbled up by the Embracer Group on its acquisition spree – along with the rights to produce Middle-earth video games – but work continued at the studio with its new owner’s backing.
Several years on from the gritty reboot’s first game, Crystal Dynamics is poised to reveal the next chapter of the Tomb Raider story.
Crystal Dynamics switches focus to next Tomb Raider game
The Survival Trilogy was a superb entry to the series, combining exciting, open-world gameplay with strong storylines, epic action, and more than enough puzzles and secrets to unlock. Bringing out a Definitive Edition of the first game certainly helped to bring the whole trilogy up to modern standards, and now, the team is working on the new with the incredibly impressive Unreal Engine 5.
That work is set to go full swing in 2023, particularly after the news that Crystal Dynamics will be withdrawing support for the live service game The Avengers. This move will bring more staff onto the next Tomb Raider project, apparently so that a reveal of the game can take place later this year. While Embracer Group owns the studio and IP, publication duties have been given to Amazon Games for this next release.
Nothing official has come out of Amazon Games, Crystal Dynamics, or Embracer Group about an intended reveal of the next game, but everything seems to be moving toward that right now. Importantly, the game’s production looks to be ramping up. On 19th January 2023, the studio even advertised several openings for work, presumably on Tomb Raider, even amidst the massive sacking spree that mega-companies in the tech industry have undertaken of late.
Lara Croft since 2018
In 2018, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was released, and a second Tomb Raider movie was reportedly in the works, with Alicia Vikander reprising her role as Lara Croft. On the gaming front, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and The Temple of Osiris are getting ported to the Nintendo Switch by Feral Interactive, and PowerWash Simulator introduced a special Lara Croft’s Manor DLC pack. In 2022, Emerald City Games also brought out a new mobile game, Reloaded, in which you play as Lara Croft to clear tombs of mythical beings.
Away from video gaming, Lara Croft has also made a splash in online entertainment circles. Released in mid-2019 by Triple Edge Studios, Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs is now in the slots library of the Betway casino platform. Set in an ancient Egyptian tomb, the player and Lara face the gods Anubis and Sobek while trying to unlock the jackpots behind the scarab puzzle. Anyone hoping for a big screen return for Lara Croft, however, looks to be in for a fairly long wait.
In the middle of 2022, Eurogamer reported that a bidding war had begun for the Tomb Raider movie rights. The studio behind the movies, MGM, had until May of that year to approve the sequel before losing the rights, and the date came and went. This removed Misha Green and Alicia Vikander from the movie series. Since it was announced that the film rights were up for grabs, storyboards showcasing a break-in at Croft Manor were revealed, but little has been reported on whether another studio has snapped up the rights yet.
Strangely, MGM was acquired by Amazon, and even though the massive company will be producing the next game, it seemingly passed on trying to keep or get back the movie rights. That said, without any information on new owners, it’s possible that Amazon could still win the bidding war to make the next Tomb Raider film. They certainly have the money to do so, but perhaps not the desire, given that the films so far haven’t exactly dazzled the critics.
Even with another big screen entry on ice for now, Crystal Dynamics is working on the next game and will most likely be showing off some footage and maybe even some gameplay in 2023.