If you’re a fan of adventure and action-packed video games, then you’ve likely heard of the Tomb Raider series. Since its initial release in 1996, this franchise has captivated gamers with its thrilling gameplay, immersive worlds, and iconic protagonist, Lara Croft.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at every Tomb Raider game in order by their release date, from the classic titles that started it all to the modern iterations that continue to push the boundaries of the franchise.
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.
So, if you’re ready to journey through the history of Tomb Raider, let’s get started!
So far, these are the Tomb Raider games in order:
- Tomb Raider (1996)
- Tomb Raider II (1997)
- Tomb Raider III (1998)
- Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)
- Tomb Raider – GameBoy Color (2000)
- Tomb Raider Chronicles (2000)
- Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword (2001)
- Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (2002)
- Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)
- Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
- Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
- Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)
- Tomb Raider (2013)
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (2014)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)
Tomb Raider -1996
In 1996, Tomb Raider was released for the Sega Saturn, and later for other platforms such as PlayStation, MS-Dos, macOS, Pocket PC, N-Gage, iOS, and Android.
The game introduced Lara Croft, who was hired by Jacqueline Natfla to find the Scion of Atlantis artifact. This set the series’ formula, which has remained largely unchanged.
Tomb Raider is a third-person action-adventure game focused on exploring ruins and tombs, solving puzzles, and fighting enemies like wildlife and raiders.
Levels in the game are complex, with multiple areas and challenging puzzles, emphasizing the importance of puzzle-solving.
Lara Croft’s two classic pistols with infinite ammo are her primary weapons, though she can also engage in melee combat.
The game features 16 extensive levels, making for a lengthy experience compared to other games at the time.
Dagger of Xian – 1997
The second Tomb Raider game was released in 1997 for PC and PlayStation. The Sega Saturn version was never released. Instead, there were later macOS and iOS ports.
The game sold over 8 million copies and became one of the best-selling games of all time.
Its plot takes set on China’s Great Wall, where Lara must locate the Dagger of Xian. Because the dagger belonged to the first Chinese emperor, it is extremely valuable.
It’s the same game as previously, with the exception of a fresh tale and new areas. Lara has the ability to jump, climb, push and pull, wield ranged weapons, and fight with her fists. Climbing was a welcome change from the previous game.
Also, there’re new weapons Lara Croft can use. At the same time, the game puts more emphasis on combat.
Tomb Raider II: The Golden Mask
Tomb Raider II has an expansion, The Golden Mask. It features a new mission across four levels.
The expansion tells a crazy story that opens up the Tomb Raider universe. As she looks for the Golden Mask, she faces dinosaurs and giant monsters.
Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft – 1998
Lara Croft’s Adventures continued the series in 1998. It was released on PlayStation and PC. A year later, a port was released for macOS.
Lara Croft is sent on a quest to find four meteorite fragments in the third installment. They are located in various places of the world.
Even though the gameplay is somewhat similar to Tomb Raider II, there are several upgrades. Significantly, the game included a new graphics engine that enhanced efficiency, aesthetics, and performance.
Moreover, the technology-enabled developers designed more intricate levels and puzzles. That is why, in comparison to the prior two installments, Tomb Raider III places a greater emphasis on puzzles.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation -1999
The Final Revelation was released in 1999 for the PlayStation and Windows platforms. A year later, a Dreamcast and macOS port was released.
Further supernatural elements are introduced in the new plot. The purpose of Lara Croft is to imprison the Egyptian deity Set.
Revelation has gameplay that is comparable to prior entries while enhancing enemy AI and aesthetics. Other from that, the game is devoid of substantial novelty.
The game concludes with Lara Croft’s apparent death.
Chronicles – 2000
Chronicles debuted in 2000 for PlayStation, Windows, and Dreamcast.
It follows The Last Revelation story. A group of friends attend Lara Croft’s memorial at the Croft Mansion and talk about Lara’s early adventures. So, the game happens as a series of flashbacks.
Players go through different levels, solve puzzles, and fight enemies. Lara Croft could now move with stealth and attack enemies from a stealth position.
Nevertheless, the last part of the game suggests Lara might still be alive below the Great Pyramid ruins.
Angel of Darkness – 2003
The Angel of Darkness was released for the PlayStation 2 and Windows in 2003. A port for macOS X Computers was released in 2003.
Both The Final Revelation and Chronicles are continued in the plot. Lara Croft appears in Paris sometime after her alleged death. Wener Von Croy, her tutor, offers her a new mission: discover the Obscura Paintings. An unknown assassin murders Von Croy before the treasure quest begins.
Police suspect Lara Croft of the murder. As a result, the game becomes about Lara attempting to defend her innocence. She must also locate the Obscura Paintings in order to attain her objectives.
Because this is the first Tomb Raider game for the PlayStation 2, the performance and aesthetic improvements were obvious. Also, the developers included a stealth mechanism similar of Metal Gear Solid.
Tomb Raider: Legend – 2006
In 2006, Legend, the next installment of the Tomb Raider series, was released for multiple platforms such as PS2, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Windows PC. It was later released for PlayStation 3 in 2011.
Crystal Dynamics, the game’s developer, decided to reboot Tomb Raider and create a new origins story for Lara Croft.
The game’s plot follows Lara as she searches for the Excalibur sword across linear levels, facing enemies, solving puzzles, and navigating dangerous environments.
Legend features updated graphics and a game engine, resulting in a new design for Lara Croft, improved controls, and better enemy AI.
This game is credited with saving the franchise.
Anniversary – 2006
Released in 2007 for Microsoft Windows, PS2, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Wii, and smartphones, Anniversary is a remake of the original Tomb Raider game from 1996.
The game celebrates the 10th anniversary of Lara Croft and features the same plot of finding the Scion artifact, but with updated graphics and new additions.
Original creator Toby Gard returned to expand the narrative, redesign Lara, co-write the story, and supervise characters, movement, and cinematics. The original composer Troels Brun Folmann remade the music with an orchestra.
Anniversary introduced new moves for Lara, similar to those in Legend, which impacted level design and made the game more complex and expansive. Puzzles were redesigned to match the graphical engine, and levels had branching paths, making the game less linear than previous versions.
Overall, Anniversary offered better gameplay, acrobatic movement, and improved performance compared to the original game. The game was later released for PS3 and macOS X in 2008.
Underworld – 2009
Underworld is the third part of the Legend storyline. It debuted in 2008 for PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Windows.
The game features new gameplay elements. Overall, the game improved gunplay, the inventory system, the map, and movement. Also, developers added a multi-purpose grappling hook.
Another addition was a hint system that guides players during puzzles and platforming sections. Also, Lara Croft could now kick and grapple-pull enemies.
The plot revolves around Lara Croft exploring a family mystery.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Spinoff) – 2010
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a spin-off game that diverges from the main franchise’s story and gameplay style.
Instead, it is an isometric action role-playing game that combines character progression with platforming, puzzles, and exploration. The game’s plot takes place in Central America, where Lara Croft and her team must confront the evil spirit Xolotl, who is raising the dead.
The game features both local and online co-op modes, but despite its quality, it hasn’t received much recognition. As the first game released under Square Enix’s umbrella, it seems the company was trying to take the series in a different direction with this genre.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was released in 2010 for Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360.
Survivor Timeline Trilogy
Tomb Raider (Reboot) – 2013
In 2013, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix released a reboot of Tomb Raider for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows, later reaching macOS X, Linux, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series.
The game tells a new origin story for Lara Croft and is set on Yamatai, a fictional lost island of the old Japanese empire. Lara and her team become stranded after a shipwreck and must survive, save their friends, and escape the island.
The gameplay mechanics focus on survival elements, with areas that invite exploration to find supplies, ammo, and secrets. The Survivor Timeline Trilogy also added RPG mechanics, allowing players to gain XP, skill points, and various combat, survival, or exploration skills.
Tomb Raider 2013 received critical and fan acclaim, with many considering the reboot ahead of its time. The game sold over 8 million copies by 2015, making it a new height for the franchise.
The game currently features a multiplayer mode with 4v4 PvP combat on different maps, with a variety of skins and power-ups available on Steam. The graphics, sound design, music, atmosphere, gameplay, and storytelling of the game continue to hold up today.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (Spinoff) – 2014
In 2014, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris continued the isometric action role-playing gameplay of its predecessor, Guardian of Light.
The game includes RPG elements, platforming, and puzzles and features a four-player co-op mode, either online or offline. Players can control Lara, Carter, Isis, and Horus, with the drop-in/drop-out feature making the game more challenging and rewarding as more players join.
The game’s plot involves Lara and her team venturing to an Egyptian underworld to defeat the evil god Set.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris was initially released for PS4 and Xbox One, with various DLCs and packs currently available. The game is also available on Google Stadia.
Rise of the Tomb Raider – 2015
Rise of the Tomb Raider, released in 2015 as an Xbox-timed exclusive, continues the reboot’s similar gameplay and design.
The game is set in Siberia, where Lara Croft searches for the legendary city of Kitezh, which holds the secret of immortality. However, another paramilitary group is also searching for its power.
Unlike its predecessor, Rise of the Tomb Raider delivers semi-open pocket worlds instead of linear levels, allowing players to raid tombs, complete side missions, and scavenge resources to craft materials.
Eidos Montreal and Nixxes Software created a new game engine for the game, which improved its overall performance and graphics.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was successful, selling over 7 million copies by 2017, though it didn’t surpass Tomb Raider 2013. Various DLCs, packs, and add-ons are available on Steam and other platforms.
The game was initially released for Xbox One and Xbox 360, later reaching PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs in 2016. Currently, it is available for Linux, macOS, Google Stadia, PS5, and Xbox Series.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider – 2018
Released in 2018 for Windows, PS4, and Xbox One, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the final entry in the reboot trilogy and is now available on PS5, Xbox Series, macOS, Linux, and Google Stadia.
The game’s plot takes Lara Croft to the Americas in search of the legendary city of Paititi, where she must stop the Mayan apocalypse from unleashing.
Like its predecessors, Shadow of the Tomb Raider features raiding tombs, scavenging resources, and completing side missions in semi-open pocket worlds. Gameplay tweaks include swimming, a grappling hook, and increased difficulty.
The game also added complexity to the RPG features, with more skills and progression pathways, as well as a skill tree that players can unlock via a New Game+ feature.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider has various DLCs and add-ons, but players can purchase the Definitive Edition to access all of its content.
Tomb Raider Mobile Games
In addition to all the main series games listed above, the Tomb Raider franchise has also received a number of mobile spin-off titles — four Java games and three games released for modern smartphone operating systems.
|Game Title||Release Year|
|Tomb Raider: The Osiris Codex||2003|
|Tomb Raider: Quest for Cinnabar||2006|
|Tomb Raider: Anniversary||2007|
|Tomb Raider: Underworld||2008|
|Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light||2010|
|Tomb Raider Trilogy||2010|
|Lara Croft and the Reflections of Life||2010|
|Tomb Raider (2013)||2013|
|Lara Croft: Relic Run||2015|
|Lara Croft GO||2015|
|Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration||2016|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The Path Home||2019|
|Tomb Raider Reloaded||2022|
What Is the Longest Tomb Raider Game?
The longest Tomb Raider game is generally considered to be Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which has a main storyline that takes approximately 13-15 hours to complete.
However, if you factor in additional content such as side missions, DLCs, and tombs, the gameplay time can easily exceed 30 hours or more, making it one of the longest games in the franchise.
Keep in mind that the length of gameplay can vary depending on the player’s playstyle, difficulty level, and completionist tendencies.
Which Is the Most Successful Tomb Raider Game?
The most successful Tomb Raider game in terms of sales is the 2013 reboot simply titled “Tomb Raider.”
The game was released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC in March 2013, and it sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide by 2015. It was critically acclaimed for its improved graphics, gameplay mechanics, and storytelling.
Its success prompted a sequel, “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” which was also well-received but did not quite match the sales of the first game.
Overall, the reboot series has helped revitalize the franchise and introduced a new generation of fans to the iconic character of Lara Croft.
Is Uncharted Better than Tomb Raider?
The question of whether Uncharted is better than Tomb Raider is subjective and largely depends on personal preference. Both franchises are third-person action-adventure games that revolve around exploring ancient ruins, solving puzzles, and engaging in combat.
Uncharted has been praised for its cinematic storytelling, engaging characters, and impressive set-pieces, while Tomb Raider is known for its immersive environments, challenging puzzles, and emphasis on survival mechanics.
Ultimately, which franchise is “better” comes down to individual tastes and opinions. Some players may prefer the more realistic and grounded approach of Tomb Raider, while others may prefer the more cinematic and action-packed gameplay of Uncharted.
Is Tomb Raider Free Forever?
No, Tomb Raider is not free forever. While some older games in the franchise may occasionally be offered for free as part of promotions or giveaways, the majority of Tomb Raider games must be purchased.
The cost of each game varies depending on the platform, release date, and availability, but players can typically expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $60 or more for a single game. Additionally, some games may offer DLCs or add-ons for an additional cost.
There are also subscription-based services such as Xbox Game Pass, which may offer some Tomb Raider games as part of their library for a monthly fee. However, these games may only be available for a limited time and can be removed from the service at any point.
And that’s our overview of all the Tomb Raider games released so far!
If you’re a fan of Tomb Raider games, be sure to check back from time to time, as we keep this list up to date by adding new titles.