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Rise of the Tomb Raider's trailer does the amazing: It makes an action hero seem human

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“A girl your age should be exploring new horizons,” Lara Croft’s therapist tells her in the trailer for the unfortunately titled Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Croft looks like she’s a few miles from doing OK in the trailer; her face is hidden behind a hoodie and her hands and feet are in constant motion. This is a person who seems not only uncomfortable but actively disturbed.

The trailer moves between the quiet, tense scene with the therapist and the sort of action scene that we’re used to from the Tomb Raider series. Croft runs from a bear, and escapes death multiple times. We see her shoot a man in the back of the head with an arrow, and uncover one of the game’s eponymous tombs.

These parts of the trailer are the sort of things we’re used to seeing in pre-rendered trailers, but the idea that the events of the first game have stuck with Croft, to the point that she’s either seeking or forced to deal with professional help, is something that is rarely talked about in games. The idea that the events of the first game have hurt her mentally, and presented her with things she is continuing to work through, makes her a person, not a two-dimensional action hero.

It’s not enough to do the sort of things we see in these games, the fact that the trailer is willing to admit that these situations would do long-term damage to the emotional well-being of anyone who survived them is one of the interesting aspects of the reveal.

She’s learning to do amazing things, and she’s going to amazing places, but there’s a very real cost to her body and mind.

This is a sequel to a very well-received game, but this trailer goes a long way to showing the viewer that Croft is on a journey, not just another random adventure. The things she does, and the people she kills, have a long term impact on her as a person. She’s learning to do amazing things, and she’s going to amazing places, but there’s a very real cost to her body and mind.

It’s hard to know how much of this will be reflected in the actual game, but the trailers admission that these things would leave a mark on anyone who went through them is enough to make it one of the most human, and interesting, reveals of E3 so far. This is in great contrast to the uncomfortable feeling of torture porn that came from the trailers of the first Tomb Raider game, and shows an interest in creating an action hero that seems real.

More of this, please.