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Why isn't Crystal Dynamics the lead developer on Shadow of the Tomb Raider?

‘It’s a collaboration’

Shadow of the Tomb Raiderwas officially revealed minutes ago, and it looks great. We played it for the better part of an hour, and it hits all the notes that we’ve come to expect from a new Tomb Raidergame. For our detailed thoughts on the conclusion to Lara Croft’s reboot trilogy, check out our hands-on preview.

However, something significant has changed for this installment. Crystal Dynamics was the lead studio on Tomb Raiderand Rise of the Tomb Raider. But, Eidos Montreal is the lead on Shadow. It seems odd for Crystal Dynamics to not take the helm for the finale of what it started.

We asked Eidos Montreal narrative director Jason Dozois why the swap, and we received this answer. “It’s a collaboration. So on the previous game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, they were the lead developer. But people in Montreal, a fair-sized team, helped with content. Same thing here. They help us create content. We really had a lot of dialogue and collaboration with [Crystal Dynamics.]”

Dozois continued “We’ve been collaborating with them for eight, nine years — all the way back to [Deus Ex:] Human Revolution. It’s like new flavors. I was happy to try something else when I finished [Deus Ex:] Mankind Divided. You don’t want to always do the same thing. It gets stale. You want to switch it up and let a new team take over.”

Lead game designer Heath Smith added: “At Eidos Montreal, one of the strengths we believe in is the social experience, the hub experience like from Deus Ex. We wanted to bring that flavor. It fit perfectly with Lara’s arc, where she needs to go and grow. I think that’s why Eidos Montreal is the perfect choice.”

It’s undoubtedly a collaboration and maybe everyone has a “share the spotlight” mentality. It still feels like a flimsy answer. Crystal Dynamics is the Tomb Raiderstudio. It hasn’t made a single non-Tomb Raideror Lara Croftgame since 2005. To take away the conclusion of the generally-excellent reboot after it led the charge on the first two-thirds seems like an unfortunate relegation for Crystal Dynamics.

[Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were provided by Square Enix.]

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