Are you looking to play all of the Tomb Raider games in order? In this post, we’ve listed every Tomb Raider game released since the first game in 1996.
Within the rapidly evolving landscape of video game development, there are very few series that have truly stood the test of time. Spanning more than two decades of consistent releases, Tomb Raider is one of those few series.
Considering the monumental generational leaps and numerous spin-offs, and with so many titles in the series, it can be intimidating to figure out where to start. Here’s what you need to know: at the time of writing, there are 17 main Tomb Raider games. I’ve listed them below in chronological order.
1. Tomb Raider (1996)
Released on October 25th, 1996, the original Tomb Raider remains one of the best selling video games on the original PlayStation, and was the best-selling entry of the Tomb Raider franchise until its 2013 remaster (more on that later). While the graphics may leave something to be desired compared to modern standards, the 3d format was innovative for its time, along with the grid-based level design.
Story-wise, the game follows the titular character, archaeologist turned ‘tomb raider’ Lara Croft through Peru, Greece, Egypt, and the lost city of Atlantis—in search of a lost artifact known as the Scion.
2. Tomb Raider II (1997)
Released on November 21st, 1997, Tomb Raider II builds upon the foundation of its predecessor. While it still uses the grid-based ‘level’ system, player-controlled Lara Croft has access to improved mobility, new weapons, and a set of vehicles—mainly used to traverse long distances. Tomb Raider II also explores the use of darkness as an obstacle, giving Lara pyrotechnic flares that can be used to light dark corners for a set period of time.
Story-wise, the game remains fairly similar to Tomb Raider, though the focal artifact is now the “Dagger of Xian”, which has the ability to turn its wielder into a dragon—provided they plunge the dagger into their own heart.
3. Tomb Raider III (1998)
Released on November 20th, 1998, Tomb Raider III continues onward with the tried and true formula of its best-selling predecessors—something it received its fair share of criticism for. As before, the player-controlled Lara Croft has access to 5 different zones, an array of weapons, and an expanded set of vehicles. Of note is the fact that a significant portion of the game takes place underwater, contributing to a large difficulty spike—which in turn garnered much criticism.
Story-wise, Tomb Raider III revolved around a set of 4 artifacts—which, when used in tandem with the power of a fallen meteorite, turns humans into grotesque mutations of their original forms.
4. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)
Released on November 22nd, 1999, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation continues to rely on the framework set by its predecessors; a fact noted by many, and often cited as the reason behind the series becoming “stale” and unchanging. As with previous titles, the player guides Lara Croft through a series of zones in search of artifacts.
In The Last Revelation, while exploring the tomb of Egyptian God Set, Lara accidentally frees the deity—spurring on a country wide race to entomb the Evil God once again—and leaving the fate of Lara unknown at the end of the game.
5. Tomb Raider – GameBoy Color (2000)
Released on June 8th, 2000, Tomb Raider (GBC) marks the first generational “leap”, as well as a major step back from the core setting and gameplay of the previous Tomb Raider installments. Given the hardware limitations of the GameBy Color, the game relegates Lara Croft’s previously extensive skill set to a 2d setting. Despite the vast difference between installments, Tomb Raider (GBC) was praised for its smooth animations, as well as the in-depth button mapping.
6. Tomb Raider Chronicles (2000)
With the fate of Lara Croft left unknown at the end of The Last Revelation, Chronicles details three major stories from her past, told from the POV of her father, the Croft family butler, and Charles Kane. The first of these stories is set in the catacombs of Rome, the second in Russia, and the third on an unknown island inhabited by demonic forces.
Despite being set in the past, Chronicles expands on Lara’s skill set even further, providing her with both a stat tracker, as well as a grappling gun.
7. Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword (2001)
Released on June 25th, 2001, Tomb Raider returns to the GameBoy Color once again. Curse of the Sword is a direct sequel to the first installment of Tomb Raider on the GBC. Being implemented on the same game engine as the first GBC installment, the gameplay of Curse of the Sword is nearly identical to its handheld predecessor.
However, it features a much more cohesive and expansive story. The apprentice of an evil magician marks Lara’s soul as a catalyst for his master’s resurrection, forcing her to take chase, lest her body be taken over.
8. Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (2002)
Released on November 12th, 2002, Tomb Raider: The Prophecy marks one of the first generational leaps of the Tomb Raider series. Released on the GameBoy Advance, The Prophecy is the first Tomb Raider game developed with a top-down view. While Lara still wields firearms as her weapon of choice, the game received criticism for its lack of movement options, as well as the linearity of the game, considering the focus on exploration that was present in previous titles.
The story is largely irrelevant—Lara is tasked with retrieving 3 mythical stones, in order to avoid the revival of an ancient being known as the Great Grey One.
9. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)
Released on June 20th, 2003, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness marks the first full-sized console generational leap, as well as—unfortunately—the first major failure of the Tomb Raider series. While the overall darker story tone was generally seen as an improvement over its predecessors, the game featured clunky camera settings, and utterly unintuitive controls—a major flaw in a game that focuses on timing and exploration.
The negative reception was so great that the planned trilogy of sequels was scrapped, and the development of the franchise was handed off to Crystal Dynamics.
10. Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
Following the disaster of Angel of Darkness, the future development of Tomb Raider was transferred from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics. Released on April 7th, 2006, Tomb Raider: Legend functions as a reboot of the original trilogy’s timeline, reworking Lara as a character, and recontextualizing the meaning behind her exploration of ancient ruins and tombs. While Legend still adheres to the foundations set by Core Design, it builds onto them—most notably through the grappling hook—which Lara now uses to interact with the environment around her, moving and destroying surrounding objects. Legend was both a commercial and sales success, widely praised as a return to the series original form.
11. Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
Following the widespread success of Legend, Crystal Dynamics was asked by publisher Eidos Interactive to develop a remake of the original Tomb Raider, in honor of the long-running series’ 10th Anniversary. Released on June 1st, 2007, Tomb Raider: Anniversary—While undoubtedly a remaster of the original game—(as opposed to a completely new entry), took advantage of its status as a remake to modernize the original game, adding the now-iconic grappling hook, as well as an updated control scheme.
True to the story of its origin, Anniversary once again follows Lara Croft as she explores Atlantis, searching for the pieces of the fractured Scion.
12. Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
Released on November 18th, 2008, Tomb Raider: Underworld was the third consecutive Tomb Raider game developed by Crystal Dynamics. While the gameplay loop remains consistent with the rest of the series, Underworld features a much more interactive environment. The game world reacts to internal stimuli, allowing players to create their own navigational aids. It also features an upgraded animation engine, allowing the game to dynamically choose between different animations, depending on certain factors within the game state—such as weather, whether Lara is holding a weapon, and so on.
13. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)
Surprised that “Tomb Raider” isn’t in the title? Released on August 18th, 2010, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light signals another departure from the standard third person action/puzzle gameplay loop that the Tomb Raider series is known for. Reminiscent of Tomb Raider: The Prophecy, this entry features a more combat-oriented environment along with a fixed top-down view camera. This is also the first iteration of Tomb Raider to feature multiplayer: Should a second player choose to join in, they will take control of Totec, the titular Guardian of Light.
14. Tomb Raider (2013)
While it may be confusing to see a title listed simply as “Tomb Raider for a third time, the 2013 edition—released on March 5th—marks the complete rewrite of Lara Croft as a character, and a significant tonal shift in the Tomb Raider franchise as a whole.
The player controls an untested, relatively naive version of Lara, who must rescue her friends from Yamatai island while avoiding being captured by the malevolent inhabitants of the island’s cult.
This 2013 installation is the first to adapt RPG-esque progression. As the game continues, players earn EXP points, acquire new weapons, and learn new skills.
At the time of writing, Tomb Raider (2013) has sold 11 million copies, making it the best-selling game of the franchise.
15. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (2014)
As the name may imply, Temple of Osiris, released on December 9th, 2014, is the direct sequel to Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. In contrast to the rest of the series, Temple of Osiris has a deeper focus on the multiplayer experience, featuring 4 characters—all of which possess unique weapons and/or skills.
Story-wise, the game is something of a call back to Last Revelation, as the evil God Set is once again the main antagonist.
16. Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
Released on November 10th, 2015, Rise of the Tomb Raider is the direct sequel to the 2013 iteration of Tomb Raider. It largely follows in the steps of its predecessor, though it adds a skill tree, each of which allows Lara to learn a completely different skill set.
It’s also the first installation of the series to contain something resembling an open world, allowing Lara to hunt wildlife and gather materials, allowing her to craft ammunition, special arrows, and even hand grenades.
17. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)
The most recent installment of Tomb Raider (at the time of writing), Shadow of the Tomb Raider released on September 14th, 2018. Outside of control scheme revisions, the gameplay is identical to that of Rise of the Tomb Raider. While designed to be the end of the 2013 reboot trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider introduces a bartering system—allowing Lara to gather, sell, and trade resources from the surrounding open-world hubs.
Despite being an end to the 2013 reboot/rewrite of the original Tomb Raider games, Shadow ends off with Lara planning her next adventure—leaving the door open for a potential sequel.
What’s You Favorite Tomb Raider Game?
The Tomb Raider series is a long, renowned franchise. It’s been through highs and lows, and managed to pull itself out of the pit of failure—something that is almost certainly a death sentence for most modern video games.
It’s important to notice that the installments up to The Angel of Darkness are their own separate continuity. Tomb Raider (2013) and onward represent the new continuity, rewriting and fleshing out Lara Croft’s backstory and evolution as a character.
Which Tomb Raider games are your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.