The upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider is positively drowning in collectibles, as one might expect from a game about exploring ancient civilizations and pillaging them for all they’re worth. Collectibles in games rarely do much for me, and I only ever find myself persuaded to hunt them down on the rare occasions I’m looking to platinum a particular game. However, Shadow of the Tomb Raider may have convinced me to hunt down its collectibles—platinum trophy or not—thanks to an obvious but curiously rare design choice.
Collecting the different documents, murals, and relics scattered around the map provide experience points, which translate into skill points for upgrading Lara. This may not sound like an element of the game that’s worthy of note, but in my experience, the majority of games with this quantity of collectibles don’t offer a worthwhile reward for your efforts, and some don’t reward you at all. More often than not, the pick-ups are only for the sake of completionists and expanding the story.
Shadow’s experience rewards for collectibles are valuable because there is much to unlock in Lara’s three-pronged skill tree, even once the story is finished. The skill tree is divided into three categories—warrior, seeker, and scavenger—with upper-branch skills taking multiple skill points to unlock. Even with diligent side questing, missions will only get players so far into their skill trees, so the bonus experience earned through the collectibles is essential if you want to enjoy everything the game has to offer. There is a New Game Plus option for those looking for an alternative, but the point of that mode is to enjoy the campaign again, this time with late-game content already unlocked. If you want to take on a second run with most or all of the game’s available skills, you’ll want to spend some time on collectibles in your first playthrough.
Not only is collecting recommended, but it is also a fairly painless process. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses campfires as save points, spaced out along the game’s various paths. In addition to saving and upgrading at these points, players can use them as fast-travel markers, which makes getting around the expansive game quick and easy. If it wasn’t for this fast traveling, players would have to memorize how the different areas of the map connect to one another and spend half their time trekking up and down each path.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn’t a revolutionary experience, but basically everything it does, it does well, and its collectible system is a prime example of this. Whether you’re a completionist looking to check these treasures off your list, or a casual player that simply wants to experiment with everything the game has to give, Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s collectibles do right by both. It seems only fitting that treasure hunting is so efficient in a game about raiding tombs.