When the Tomb Raider series got rebooted we were promised we'd see how Lara Croft became the character we know and love. Most of us probably assumed that at the end of 2013's Tomb Raider we had seen that origin story, but apparently telling the whole story required an entire trilogy. Shadow of the Tomb Raider will complete the origin story of Lara Croft. Daniel Chayer-Bisson is the Game Director for the upcoming game and has been part of the trilogy since the beginning. In an interview with him during PAX West 2018, he explained to me why it was that Lara needed three games to tell her origin story. Each one focuses on a specific aspect of who Lara is and these three aspects combine to make the complete character. According to Chayer-Bisson...
If Tomb Raider 2013 was about exploring who Lara is, understanding who Lara is, and then Rise of the Tomb Raider was about Croft, understanding what Croft means, this game, it's all about understanding what it means to become a Tomb Raider.
The 2013 Tomb Raider was clearly about Lara finding out who she is. She started out the game completely over her head, unsure of what to do in an impossible situation. Eventually, however, she realized what she was truly capable of accomplishing. Similarly, Rise of the Tomb Raider saw Lara understand a great deal more about the family that she had been born into. She thought she understood who her father was, but it turned out that wasn't the case. She learned about the organization that he stood in opposition of and she took his place fighting them.
Now that Lara knows who she is, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is about what she now chooses to do with her life. Lara may be capable, but in the new game, she still acts rashly, not considering the consequences of her actions on the rest of the world, never mind herself. The primary conflict in the new game is brought on by Lara herself.
In this case, it seems becoming a Tomb Raider means having a respect for the artifacts she goes in search of, as well as the rest of the world. I've already written about how Lara doesn't mix well with others in Shadow. She's not comfortable with other people, at least not at the beginning of the game. She's so focused on her globetrotting and risk-taking that she doesn't really know how to do anything else. Understanding the importance of what she's doing and how it impacts others is the last piece Lara Croft needs to be the full-fledged Tomb Raider.
We don't have very long to wait to complete the last chapter of the origin story. Shadow of the Tomb Raider arrives September 14.