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Who are the mysterious scavengers populating the island on which Lara Croft finds herself shipwrecked?
Since its reveal over a year and a half ago, there’s been a mystery surrounding the identity of the strange figure who imprisons Lara after she finds herself shipwrecked on a mysterious island. More recent revelations about the game show yet more dangerous-looking men that appear to have been on the island for a long time. We asked global brand director Karl Stewart for some additional details about the scavengers of the island, and he filled us in on this important set of foes in the game.
“After being on the island for more than forty-plus years, these Scavengers have created a very defined social structure,” Stewart describes. “They have one single leader to whom they look up to for guidance and direction, and they also maintain very clear roles and responsibilities within this social structure that play to their individual strengths.”
We witness one of these defined castes in action in a new demo of the game. Early on in the story, Lara gets captured by a group of these dangerous scavengers – members of the same group as the man who captured her in the underground den in the game’s opening. Stewart describes this particular group as collectors. “They are a group of scavengers who are sent out to pillage and salvage the remains of any ships or planes that have recently crashed on the island,” Stewart says. “These guys would normally look for items such as medical supplies, food or gasoline and bring them back to base.”
In the demo, Lara is knocked out and taken to a place where other survivors of the shipwreck have been captured. All around her, the forest is ablaze; the group of collectors is aiming to flush out other survivors to bring back to their camp. “On arrival to the location of the Endurance shipwreck the scavengers realized that there were survivors and that they’ve managed to make their way up inland to the mountain village. But rather than go into the village and go from building to building looking for them, the scavengers simply burned them out, not caring whether they live or die,” Stewart says.
As the demo continues, one of Lara’s fellow survivors makes a run for it. In return, one of the scavenging collectors puts a bullet in his back. The remaining survivors panic, and all hell breaks loose. Tied up survivors begin to run in every direction, and the collectors pursue with weapons in hand. Lara is left to her own devices. Slipping away through the burning trees and buildings, she tries to make her escape before getting shot with a gun or peppered with arrows. As one of the collectors come near, she sneaks into a small shack to try and hide. Unfortunately, he sees her, and pulls her out with a vicious look in his eyes. A scuffle ensues over the gun, and after a violent exchange the weapon goes off – Lara Croft just made her first human kill.
Stewart doesn’t detail any of the other scavenger groups we’ll see on the island, but he does offer some hints about the identity of the group. “Scavengers are former survivors – they were not raised on the island,” Stewart says. “When someone shipwrecks on the island and survives, they are violently indoctrinated into the social group of the scavengers.”
Though the scavengers on the island are mostly unified in purpose, they’re not monolithic in their motivations. Most of them are enthused and devoted to their as yet unnamed leader. “They trust and love their leader – he will guide them to their salvation,” Stewart describes. However, many also fear this enigmatic figure. Secretly, some of the scavengers are hoping to escape the island – will Lara eventually ally with some of these vicious attackers?
The glimpse we have of Lara’s new foes is a change of pace from the faceless villains she’s often fought in previous Tomb Raider games. Even in the brief sections of gameplay we witnessed, these aggressors exhibit personality and savagery that speaks to their decades living on the forgotten island. As we get closer to Tomb Raider’s release, it will be exciting to find out what mysterious person or force stands behind Lara’s foes.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.