Why Lara Croft's latest is called 'Rise of the Tomb Raider'

It has nothing on Lara Croft’s exhausting formation as the world’s ultimate explorer, but figuring out the title of her latest game wasn’t as easy as you might think. Before settling on ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider,’ developer Crystal Dynamics agonized over several permutations, including the obvious 'Tomb Raider 2' and a repurposed codename that nearly made it, 'Tomb Raider: Ascension.'

“We were gravitating toward that for a while,” says Rich Briggs, franchise director at Crystal Dynamics. “It was a codename for the first game.” That makes two modern Tomb Raiders in a row, if you're counting, that narrowly missed the aspirational subtitle.

The brief return of ‘Ascension,’ which you may have heard alongside early leaks of Tomb Raider’s 2013 reboot (and a fan film), was meant to convey Lara’s journey from an inquisitive woman to the hardened warrior players have come to know since her debut almost 20 years ago. Before it changed direction, Tomb Raider was intended to take place on an eerie island - just like the final game did - but one ruled by gigantic enemies. Though Lara certainly grew within the Tomb Raider that was, she didn’t quite end up as the iconic destroyer of old vases - whether that’s to blame on the first game’s lack of perplexing crypts is a matter for debate between fans. Either way, there was still room for Lara to go up.

After much debate and frequent visits to thesaurus.com, Crystal Dynamics finally landed on ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider.’ For Noah Hughes, the game’s Creative Director, ‘Rise’ was emblematic of Lara Croft’s significant movement along the spectrum, between that first game and the eventual pinnacle of her abilities. And though “she has lots of experiences yet to have, and lots of lessons yet to learn,” Hughes suggests a major transition is in store during Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Lara will be “one step much further along that journey of who she ultimately will become,” Hughes says. “This promises that meaningful flip in Lara’s life where, to oversimply: in the last game tomb raiding was a means to surviving the island. In this game and going forward, survival is a means to raiding tombs.”

Better luck next time, Ascension.

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Ludwig is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for GamesRadar+. He's been writing about games for over 12 years, having spent about half of that perfecting this beautiful, unhelpful blurb.
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