The lights are on
In the past, Lara Croft’s interactions with others have been anemic at best – usually only the undead, mindless mercs, or endangered animals around to keep her company. That's not to say she’s existed in an antisocial bubble, though. Lara’s faithful butler Winston was a series staple in the early games, and throughout eight console iterations we’ve been introduced to a childhood friend, longtime mentor, fellow adventurer, several noteworthy adversaries, and more. Lara was never defined by these relationships, however, remaining strong, independent, and somewhat aloof at all times.
According to Crystal Dynamic Art Director Brian Horton, much of the new Lara Croft’s identity will be established through her interactions with others. “Those interactions are going to be very different from what we’ve seen in past Tomb Raider titles,” said Horton. “She isn’t always in charge. She will have these ranges of being the low man on the totem pole in the beginning and then finding her own voice.”
Following the Endurance capsizing in Lara’s newest adventure, she finds herself stranded on a mysterious island. We’ve been introduced to the hostile natives, but little has been divulged about the surviving Endurance crew, aside from a few details about one Captain Conrad Roth. Crystal has positioned Roth to be pivotal to Lara’s growth as a character, noting that he will encourage her to live up to the family name and help shape her into a hardened survivor.
So who is this Conrad Roth? Roth gained his strength and no-nonsense attitude through two tours with the Royal Marine commandoes. Deciding to put his unique skills to use after leaving the military, Roth became a freelance treasure-hunter, scouring forgotten shipwrecks that litter the ocean floor for anything of value. Traveling the world, his reputation is for intelligence, toughness, and a tendency to bend laws that limit the traffic of historical artifacts. In order to secure a prize and do right by his crew, Roth will lie, cheat, and break the law. Remorse isn’t part of the equation.
Roth is perpetually calm, his intimidating presence eliminating the need to raise his voice. While his military training resulted in an authoritarian leadership mantra, his collected and decisive demeanor often benefits the crew.
We’re not sure if Roth has any long lasting relationships, but the transient lifestyle has lead him to declare a common-law marriage with the sea. Years of successful missions lead to the acquisition of larger and larger vessels, eventually leaving Roth the captain of a well-equipped salvage ship – The Endurance.
The expedition to seek out treasure off the coast of Japan isn’t just Lara’s chance to make the big time. Roth’s dream still involves a life at sea – just on a 60-foot yacht instead of a salvage boat.
After our cover story hit newsstands, franchise fans began to speculate that Roth’s role in the Tomb Raider reboot will be akin to that of Croft’s prior mentor Werner von Croy. Similarities are apparent, as Croy and Roth are responsible for Lara’s first major expeditions – Croy to Angkor Wat and Roth on the ill-fated Endurance mission. Both also share an affinity for ancient artifacts, despite the differing means of procuring said valuables.
Our cover story detailed an exchange between Lara and Roth in which he bolstered her confidence and encouraged her to venture off on her own to signal rescue. In what other capacities do you think Roth will influence Lara? What role would you like him to play in the new Tomb Raider installment?
Let us know below!