Best Tomb Raider Games To Play For Beginners

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Tomb Raider 1996: Lara Croft - Tomb Raider Legend: Lara Croft - Tomb Raider 2013: Lara Croft


It’s no secret that Tomb Raider revolutionized a genre. In the days before adventure games like Uncharted and Lost Horizon, Lara Croft was exploring tombs and plundering treasures – it’s even hard to imagine any of the adventure games coming from the last 30 years without the touch of Tomb Raider.


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With Amazon’s recent announcement that it will be publishing the next Tomb Raider game, many players who are approaching the series for the first time are uncertain about how to approach this game. This article takes a look back at the high points of the nearly 30-year-old series.

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1/10 Tomb Raider

Released: 1996

Formats: PC, PS1, Android, Sega Saturn, iOS, N-Gage

There are plenty of great games in the series, but there are none as groundbreaking as the 1996 original. Combining puzzle-solving and shooting in a 3D environment, Tomb Raider was unparalleled when it was released. The game has aged well, and its main ideas can still be found at play in many modern titles.

The plot involves Lara Croft being approached by a mercenary who hires her to acquire a mysterious artifact buried in the mountains of Peru. Tomb Raider was a good enough game to launch a franchise that includes over a dozen games and a movie. In addition to a fun setting and good controls, Tomb Raider also caused many ’90s gamers to fall in love with Lara Croft.

2/10 Rise Of The Tomb Raider

rise of the tomb raider lara looking at a puzzle ahead

Released: 2015

Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Mac

Drawing heavy inspiration from 2013’s reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider gives the player more freedom and expansion than ever before in the series. There are also set pieces that rival those found in Uncharted, which at this point in the series was looking to have eclipsed the gameplay in the Tomb Raider series. A year after the events of Tomb Raider (2013), Lara Croft is experiencing PTSD from her treasure-hunting experiences. Desperate for answers, Lara goes on an expedition to northwestern Syria, which is home to the Forgotten Cities.

While technically a sequel to the 2013 release, this entry explores deeper into the character while offering great graphics, more crafting, and fun gameplay.

3/10 Tomb Raider 2

Lara Croft pointing dual guns at upper level

Released: 1997

Formats: PC, PS3, PS2, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS

Most players will remember this game for its training sequence, where Lara can lock her aged butler in the walk-in freezer. Coming hot on the trails of the first Tomb Raider entry, Tomb Raider 2 was a highly-praised sequel that managed to expand on the first game while keeping all the same thrilling gameplay. Tomb Raider 2 sees Lara on the hunt for the Dagger of Xian, which once belonged to the Emperor of China and has the power to turn the person who wields it into a dragon.

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This game lets you ride on a jet ski and other vehicles, which in 1997 was a groundbreaking concept. As a result, the environment in Tomb Raider 2 feels much more immersive. If you want to see what type of trouble Lara was getting into before the movie and the massive reboot, this is a game that can’t be missed.

4/10 Tomb Raider (2013)

Tomb Raider 2013 - Lara Croft aiming a bow with a flaming arrow

Released: 2013

Formats: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

After a period without any new Tomb Raider games, this reboot relaunched the series. Borrowing from Uncharted this time around, this reboot helped push Tomb Raider into the future. The game tells Lara’s origins. Beginning on her first treasure hunt aboard the ship Endurance, you will follow Lara on an incredible journey.

A gritty and dark open-world adventure with comfortable platforming and engaging shootouts, the reboot is one of the best entries in the Tomb Raider series.

5/10 Lara Croft Go

Lara Croft: Go - Lara Croft climbing a cliff - Lara Croft in the jungle

Released: 2015

Platforms: PS4, iOS, PC, PS Vita

Featuring a control scheme similar to its developer-sibling, Hitman, Lara Craft Go introduced a unique take on the Tomb Raider series. Rather than a puzzle or adventure game, Lara Croft Go is a turn-based strategy game. Lara in this game explores an ancient civilization deep in the Amazon Jungle. Along the way, she encounters enemies, booby traps, and the legend of the Atlas of Beyond.

Multiple entries in this gameplay style likely would not have succeeded, but as is, Lara Croft Go is a memorable one-off experience that offers those players who like to strategize gameplay an addictive experience.

6/10 Tomb Raider: Legend

tomb raider legend ending lara pointing gun at amanda

Released: 2006

Formats: PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Game Boy Advance, Game Cube

Legend played an important role in helping the relaunch of the Tomb Raider series during the 2010s. Coming after a weak entry, this game helped to remind players about how great a game Tomb Raider had the potential to be. Legend starts with Lara traveling to the abandoned city of Tiwanaku. The story quickly turns to Lara pursuing the legendary sword, Excalibur. The gameplay structure returns to focusing more on puzzle-solving and platforming.

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If you’re interested in playing a game that linked the first few Tomb Raider games to the reboot that later happened, this is the one you want.

7/10 Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider Underwater Cave Exporation

Released: 2018

Formats: PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, Stadia

A beautiful and polished game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider misses out on the great quotes and soulful feel of some of the earlier Tomb Raider games. Set a few months after Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara continues fighting Trinity in this game. Lara also travels through North and South America to reach the city of Paititi, a lost Incan city. Along the way, she fights various animals including bears and jaguars.

The story is the weakest part of this game. The stellar visuals and the sharp controls will keep you playing anyway.

8/10 Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light

Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light. Cutscene of Lara and Xolotl.

Released: 2010

Formats: Xbox 360, PS 3, PC, iOS, Stadia

Unlike most previous entries, Guardian of Light offers a unique camera angle that looks down on Lara from above. The game offers a mixture of both puzzle-solving as well as action sequences.

The game revolves around the battle between Totec, Guardian of Light, and Xolotl, the Keeper of Darkness. Totec’s army defeats Xolotl using a mirror of smoke. In the present day, Lara discovers this legend and seeks to find the mirror.

The story is probably the weakest part of this game because most of the main events take place in the past rather than as events that the player proceeds through. Thanks to the weak story and strange camera, Guardian of Light is the Tomb Raider game that feels the least like a Tomb Raider game. Despite this, the game offers compelling level design as well as many of the action and platforming aspects of other Tomb Raider games.

9/10 Tomb Raider: Underworld

Lara using a grappling hook to move a platform in Tomb Raider: Underworld.

Released: 2008

Formats: PC, Xbox 3 60, PS3, DS, Wii, PS2

Following Anniversary and Legend, Underworld was the best of this era of Tomb Raider games. This game was likely such a hit because it combines the traditional elements of Tomb Raider with new mechanics. For a time, fans thought that Underworld might be the end of Lara Croft. Underworld is not a perfect game, though. The gameplay feels clunky and the story feels inconsequential.

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Taking place after Tomb Raider: Legend, the game sees Lara pursuing the whereabouts of her mother as well as the legendary lost land of Avalon. Despite its setbacks, Underworld is an entertaining adventure game that lets players itch the scratch to explore and platform as Lara.

10/10 Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

A screenshot showing Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

Released: 1999

Formats: Playstation, PC, Dreamcast

Last Revelation is best remembered for being the game that almost killed off Lara Croft and introduced a new protagonist to the series. Despite this strange tone, The Last Revelation Is still an exciting adventure game. In the Last Revelation, a teenage Lara searches for treasure in Egypt. The game features a new inventory system, improved weapons, and tougher puzzles.

The Last Revelation does not introduce much to the series – the game is also heavy on puzzles and light on action.

Next: Every Ending In The Tomb Raider Series, Ranked



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