Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fantastic adventure, and even bigger than our heroine’s last game. It’s easy enough to get going, but there’s no denying it would have been useful to know a few things before starting. That’s the benefit of hindsight for you. So here we go, as spoiler-free as possible (though number 8 does solve a puzzle, in case you wanted to skip that one).
1. It’s impossible to clear an area first time round
That lovely 100% completion stat is something many gamers absolutely need to display. But thanks to Metroidvania game design, you literally can’t do everything in each area the first time you visit it. It’s actually better to just push on through the story beats, absorb all that cinematic action like it’s a playable film, then come back later to find all the trinkets.
2. Animals have hearts and that’s their weak point
Sure, shooting anything in the head will make it go down fast, but the larger animals have actual heart mapping (is that a thing? It is now), and one of the skills on your skill tree allows you to see that heart beating, hopefully letting you kill your target in one awesome shot (which is easier said than done, clearly). Of course, if you don’t have that perk yet, it’s still worth a guess.
3. The ‘rappel down’ rope goes longer if you press the buttons right
The irony here is that the game explains perfectly well how to do this, but it’s easy to forget exactly what you need to press in order to extend the rope. Trouble is, you need to push a shoulder button while clinging to a wall with your pick in order to rappel downwards. However, the temptation is to hold the trigger in, as logic says that letting go of the button may cause you to fall. It doesn’t. Just pull the stick down and the rope goes really long. Hold in the trigger again and push forwards/backwards to swing. Yep, easy when you know how.
4. GPS caches are revealed by finding Explorer Backpacks
Perhaps this isn’t so much of a surprise for those who are familiar with the series, but discovering the Explorer Backpack reveals the location of all the GPS survival caches on the map, eliminating the need to hunt for them. So don’t spend time scouring the environments looking for tell-tale glints in the sun - it’s a complete waste of your time.
5. The quick-select wheel is actually even quicker
Pushing the d-pad at any time brings up an overlay (still in real-time) of your available weapons. You can then use the right stick to highlight the one you want. But you know what’s quicker? If you already know which weapon you want, you can just tap the corresponding d-pad direction and pull out, for example, your shotgun. Boom. Headshot.
6. Unlock Weapon Tier 4 with the skill tree
Raposa’s Wit allows you to unlock the next tier of your weapon upgrade level. We’d been stuck on 3 for hours until we saw this. Dummy.
7. Booby-trapping bodies is amazing fun
Basically you should unlock the Viper’s Snare, which give you the ability to boobytrap bodies as soon as you can. This allows you to set an explosive charge on a downed enemy, then whenever his comrade approaches, it blows up in his face, giving you a stealth kill. So. Much. Fun.
8. How to free the White Queen
Just skip this if you don’t want to hear the solution to this puzzle. But there’s an excellent dream sequence where young Lara breaks into her own house, while pretending she’s raiding a tomb. But the final puzzle sees her trying to free ‘The White Queen’. It’s easy enough to work out the rest, but it would have saved a lot of time if I’d known you have to go back to the globe and move it away from the correct co-ordinates in order to make the ladder retract and ‘free the White Queen’. Now you know, and can use that extra few minutes in any way you see fit. Lucky you.