When Crystal Dynamics released their original reboot to the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013, the final cutscene of the game (very mild spoilers ahead) showed off Lara holding some maps and paperwork indicating Russia could be Lara’s next destination.
There was no way to prove that it was actually a hint until Rise of the Tomb Raider was released two years later and Lara was off to the aforementioned Russia after all.
Naturally, when the ending to Rise of the Tomb Raider was upon us, we took it upon ourselves to scour every detail from the game’s final moments to see if Crystal Dynamics may send us a hint about Lara’s next adventure. And alas, they didn’t disappoint.
In the final cutscene of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the camera pans to a shot of a desk with maps and photos of Mexico, complete with a huge red circle around the country’s Yucatan peninsula, including Cozumel.
Looking closely at the surrounding scraps of paper we see a few interesting things:
- At the bottom of the map is written “New Spain”
- This is a reference to the real-world colony comprising of Spain’s possessions in the new world (North and Central America), and established following the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521.
- We assume that Shadow of the Tomb Raider would be based on real places and stories since both the 2013 game as well as Rise of the Tomb Raider rely on real-world stories as the base for their narrative, taking place in Japan and Siberia, respectively.
- The Bay of Campechy is labelled on the map
- This references the expedition to discover the lands and surrounding area in 1517, just a few years before the colony was declared New Spain
- A business card for Kennard Montez, who has some affiliation with the Archivio Segreto Vatican, the renowned secret Vatican archives
- Kennard Montez was first introduced in the Tomb Raider comic book and was Lara’s love interest and rival archaeologist. There is quite obviously no word as to how he would play into the game’s story at this point.
- The writing “Location 3” on a scrap of paper with five symbols
- This is perhaps the most obvious clue that this will be leading to the third game, but it could be a red herring as the symbols don’t seem to be anything we’ve seen previously. They could be new emblems for Lara’s abilities or weapons that we’ve seen previously?
- Scribbled words, “Army of the dead?”
- A reference to Mexico’s Day of the Dead, the gathering of people to remember their friends and family who have passed. It is also a perfectly creepy jumping off point for a new story.
- In the final scene of the trailer, as Lara stands in front of the Mayan temples there is actually a massive crowd below, likely gathering for this celebration
The teaser trailer for Shadow very clearly shows Mayan temples, and the most famous complex of of these temples is located at Chichén Itzá on the Yucatan peninsula, directly reference by that giant red circle on the map.
It is quite clear that we’ve known the main location of Shadow of the Tomb Raider for a number of years now, and with the game’s first trailer out, we can confirm that it is something that has been in the works for a long time. Now, we only need to wait until September to find out just how Kennard Montez and the Vatican play into an adventure that appears to be taking place in Mexico.
Perhaps more will be revealed on April 27th when the Crystal Dynamics team unveils the title’s first gameplay footage at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on September 14th.