It’s valid to wonder how to play Tomb Raider games in order since there are so many titles in the franchise. So, that’s what we will be discussing in this article. You will see all the games listed according to their release order and their chronological order.
Since its inception in 1958, video games have come a long way, starting with 8-bit graphics. We now have many video games that have slowly turned into a fully-fledged franchise. One such franchise is Tomb Raider, which we will discuss today. The first game in the series was released way back in 1996. Fast forward to 2022, we now have an extensive game series, comic book lineups, and the newly added movies.
But in this article, we’re only going to stick to video games. We’re going to take a look at the entire main series of the games, diving a bit deep into each installment. Of course, we will also talk about the correct order to play the whole franchise.
Tomb Raider Games In Order
Like with most games that we have covered, Tomb Raider can also be played or explored in two different ways – release order and timeline order. Since the franchise has become so extensive, it gets hard to decide which one to go with. But we’re here to help you out, so let’s see both the orders first.
Before we talk about the orders, it is worth mentioning that Tomb Raider is divided into three timelines – Original, Legend, and Survivor.
- Original Timeline: 6 Titles released in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2003
- Legend Timeline: 3 titles released in 2006, 2007 and 2008
- Survivor Timeline: 3 titles released in 2013, 2015 and 2018
Tomb Raider Games In Order Of Release Date
1. Tomb Raider (1996)
- Release date: October 25, 1996
- Platforms: Sega Saturn, PlayStation, MS-DOS, Classic Mac OS, N-Gage, iOS, Android
Core Design and Eidos Interactive released the first Tomb Raider game in 1996. The title was released originally on Sega Saturn and soon made its way to MS-DOS, PlayStation, Mac OS, Pocket PC, N-Gage, Android, and iOS.
You play Lara Croft, a British female archaeologist searching for ancient treasures in this game. She’s like the Indiana Jones of Tomb Raider world. Businesswoman Jacqueline Natla hires Lara Croft to find an artifact called the Scion of Atlantis.
Since it was released in 1996, you might find the gameplay experience a tad bit boring. For those who’re into retro gaming, you’re in for a treat.
You navigate various levels that are split into multiple areas and room complexes. Of course, by doing that, you will encounter a lot of enemies. To top things off, you will need to do a lot of puzzle-solving as well.
Considering the time it was released, the game brought innovative 3D graphics, controls, and experience. Tomb Raider ended up winning a plethora of industry awards. Overall, the criticism received from the gaming community was on the very positive side.
Tomb Raider ended up raising the bar of the gaming industry, establishing the foundation for the future series, movies, and comics that we have today.
2. Tomb Raider II (1997)
- Release date: October 31, 1997
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation, Mac OS, iOS, Android
After the success of the original release, the developers decided to bring the second installment and officially made the game a series. As expected, Tomb Raider II took the base of the original installment and refined it even further.
There were many additions in the game, such as new weapons, extra moves, and new vehicles. Another notable addition was the ability to climb horizontally and vertically and do a mid-roll to the land, which was super cool. You were able to explore various weapons such as a harpoon gun, a grenade launcher, an M16 rifle, and much more.
Storywise, Tomb Raider II takes place in ancient China, with the story revolving around the Dagger of Xian. The Dagger of Xian, that allows anyone to take the form of a dragon, is currently in the hands of Emperor Qin Shihuang. Your goal is to get the dagger and save China from foreseeable destruction.
3. Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft (1998)
- Release date: November 20, 1998
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation, Mac OS
With the third title in Tomb Raider games in order, the developers stuck with the same formula which we witnessed in the previous two installments.
In this new installment, Lara Croft is on a different quest, and this time she’s hunting for four pieces of the meteorite scattered all across the world. This means that you would explore more locations this time which is always a good thing. Once again, the key formula remained the same, with you completing a series of levels using your puzzle-solving skills.
While the game didn’t bring anything new in graphics or visuals, there were some notable changes under the hood. The developers used the improved engine resulting in better speed efficiency and more significant details. Back to the gameplay, you will explore five locations, namely India, South Pacific, London, Nevada, and Antarctica.
Like with the previous installments, you will have to defeat various enemies, climb objects, rearrange items, etc. Furthermore, there were additions of new weapons, vehicles, and more. Surprisingly, a large portion of the game also takes place underwater.
During the release of Tomb Raider III, the publishing company implemented an extensive marketing campaign. Thanks to campaigns and the impressive storyline, the title managed to sell around six million copies making the third installment a huge success.
4. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)
- Release date: November 19, 1999
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, Mac OS
Soon after, the developers launched the fourth installment dubbed Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. The whole idea behind the title was to end the series as the franchise was on its way to series fatigue. Furthermore, we saw around three titles released back to back with a year gap. The storyline decided to end the series with Lara’s death.
The fourth iteration takes place in two locations – Cambodia and Egypt. Furthermore, the levels are divided into different zones, and you would also have to revisit various locations throughout the storyline.
Once again, the game felt a bit repetitive, with the only thing being different is the storyline, but that also feels a bit stretched at some point. The entire storyline is filled with betrayal, exploration, and suspense, just like any Tomb Raider title. The gameplay experience remained the same with you solving puzzles, participating in combat, and exploring various locations.
Surprisingly, the gaming community and critics still appreciated the title and gave it a positive response. Furthermore, critics felt like the series needed to end as it could only go stale further down the road.
5. Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000)
- Release date: November 17, 2000
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, Mac OS
While The Last Revelation was supposed to be the franchise’s end, the developers decided to pick it up again. It made sense as the series was getting a lot of attention and love from gamers all across the globe.
Tomb Raider: Chronicles was supposed to bring a new gameplay experience, but that was not the case. Instead, the title brought more or less the same experience, which closely resembled the previous iteration.
Of course, there were some new additions, such as the ability to walk on a tightrope, grabbing and swinging on horizontal bars, and more. The developers also decided to give two new suits to Lara – a camouflage snow-suit and a black catsuit. We also saw the famous Desert Eagle and MP5 submachine gun in this game. A new addition was TMX-Timex, through which you can track various statistics.
To this day, Tomb Raider: Chronicles is the weakest link in the franchise. The mixed reviews were the warning shot for the developers to switch things up; otherwise, the series might see a forgettable death.
6. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)
- Release date: June 17, 2003
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, Mac OS
After the failure of Chronicles, the developers decided to pause for a while to work on a new title dubbed Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.
The 3-year work resulted in a title that looks much better and offers a refined gameplay experience. In this title, Lara Croft is a suspect in a murder case involving his former mentor Werner Von Croy. Throughout the installment, Lara aims to clear her name while also investigating the growing presence of the black magic cult.
The idea behind this installment was to bring a game that is suitable for the new generation of gaming consoles and leverages all the modern technologies of that time.
The gameplay experience, to a much greater extent, remained more or less the same. Although many considered it to be a step down due to the clunky controls and poorly implemented stealth mechanics.
One new addition was the ability to choose the replies given to NPCs. Of course, the answers will impact the storyline. What’s more, is a new playable character named Kurtis Trent. Late in the game, you’ll be able to play as Trent.
7. Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
- Release date: April 7, 2006
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube
With the Angel of Darkness, the original timeline of Tomb Raider came to an end. After 3 years of the previous installment, publisher Eidos Interactive tied up with the new company to bring Tomb Raider: Legend. The title is considered a reboot of the franchise bringing the same old Lara Croft but better.
In this new reboot, Lara Croft is on a quest for a mythical sword Excalibur. While doing that, you’re up against your former friend, Amanda Evert. Once again, you’ll navigate various levels, fight enemies, solve puzzles, and move further beyond. The game brought back all the basic gameplay features and style from the previous generation and added its new flavor.
From gameplay to the characters themselves, the new developers revamped many things. As a result, the title received a lot of positive feedback and even won various awards. The primary reason for the positive response was the franchise’s reboot, which is something fans were waiting for for years.
8. Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
- Release date: June 1, 2007
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii, MacOS
Next up in the list of Tomb Raider games in order, we have Tomb Raider: Anniversary. In this game, Lara Croft is on yet another quest, and this time she’s looking for Scion of Atlantis. Sounds familiar? Yes!
Tomb Raider: Anniversary is the remake of the first Tomb Raider title. For Anniversary, the developers built this game from scratch using the same engine as The Legend. This title is known for its old-school Tomb Raider gameplay experience focussing a lot of puzzle-solving.
It is even considered one of the high-quality remakes of the original installment. Even though the game looked and felt quite promising, it didn’t sell well. It is considered the worst-selling Tomb Raider game to date. Critics claim this was due to the more challenging puzzles and a sudden change from the previous installment.
9. Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
- Release date: November 18, 2008
- Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, NDS, Nokia N-Gage 2.0, MacOS
After releasing the remake of the original release, the developers went on to continue the story that they left with The Legend. In Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara retrieves the whereabouts of ruins at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.
These are the same ruins her father, Richard James Croft, was about to explore. When she goes inside, she finds herself surrounded by one of the Norse Underworlds, Niflheim. Throughout her journey, she needs to investigate the ruins while also fighting a mercenary sent to hunt her down.
From the storyline point of view, Tomb Raider: Underworld brings some interesting aspects to the table and ends the Legend timeline perfectly. Even though Underworld offered a lot of improvements, the game still didn’t perform well in the market. It was considered one of the simplest Lara Croft games with not-so-impressive levels. On the other hand, the combat in this game was much more fast and more dynamic.
10. Tomb Raider (2013)
- Release date: March 6, 2013
- Platforms: Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, macOS, Nvidia Shield, Google Stadia
After the ending of the Legend timeline, Square Enix picked up the Tomb Raider game and attempted to rebuild and revamp it from scratch. Well, they managed to hit every single aspect of expectation.
The reboot Tomb Raider takes place in Yamatai, which is an island. Lara Croft has to save her friends and escape the island since a malevolent cult is hunting her. What’s more interesting is that Lara Croft in this installment is untested and not battle-hardened. It was the perfect way to reboot the series as you witness Lara Croft becoming The Lara Croft.
Tomb Raider (2013) focuses a lot on survival and a tad bit of exploration. It was the first Tomb Raider game to support multiplayer mode. Furthermore, it’s also the first Tomb Raider game to receive a “mature” rating.
The primary aspect of the game is the character development that Lara Croft goes through, which is perfectly done. After the release, the game received immensely positive feedback and even became critically acclaimed. Tomb Raider (2013) delivered improved graphics, gameplay, and multiplayer mode.
11. Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
- Release date: November 10, 2015
- Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Google Stadia
With the immense success of the reboot, we have Rise of the Tomb Raider next in our list of the best Tomb Raider games in order. This installment continues the story that the reboot left behind.
The developers listened to feedback and even implemented the same in this game. For instance, they reduced quick-time events, introduced more puzzles, and challenge tombs made their way back. In this game, you explore various locations like Turkey, Cappadocia, Istanbul, Ephesus, and more.
Once again, we’re looking at improved graphics, gameplay style, and characterization. Sadly, Rise of the Tomb Raider didn’t do much experiment and continued using the same formula of success.
Coming to the storyline, the gaming community seemed to have not liked that very much or at least not found it quite strong.
12. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)
- Release date: September 14, 2018
- Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Google Stadia
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is currently the latest Tomb Raider game that you can play on your favorite console or PC. Many people claim that this is the final installment of the Survivor Timeline, but there’s no official information from Square Enix.
Lara Croft is now venturing through the tropical regions of the Americas to the legendary city, Paititi. Throughout your journey, you’ll battle the paramilitary organization called Trinity. You’ll also need to stop the Mayan apocalypse to top things off.
The gameplay remains more or less the same as that of the previous installments. It’s surprising considering Eidos Montreal developed the game.
The title in this new timeline focuses a lot more on puzzles and action and exploration. It’s a perfect blend of all three, so the installment managed to perform exceptionally well. There were a lot of additions such as a trading system, improved stealth mechanics, and much more. A few more additions were the ability to rappel down a cliff using a climbing ax and rope, camouflaging in mud, hiding in bushes, and much more.
There’s also an addition of an Immersion Mode which allows you to hear background conversations of the locals in their native languages. If you turn off the mode, you’ll listen to the conversations in your selected languages.
Tomb Raider Games (By Chronological Order)
If you have already played the Tomb Raider games, and are looking to go back and play the titles again, then you can choose to play them according to their chronological order. Here’s the order that you can play the game in:
- Tomb Raider
- Tomb Raider II
- Tomb Raider III
- Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
- Tomb Raider: Chronicles
- Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
For the Crystal Dynamics games, you can follow the below-given order:
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary
- Tomb Raider: Legend
- Tomb Raider: Underworld
Fast forward to the current timeline; we’re looking at three games so far, and here’s the order for them:
- Tomb Raider (2013)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider Games (Spin-offs)
Like with the most popular and extensive video games franchise, Tomb Raider also has a bunch of spin-offs. Here’s the list of all the spin-offs that have gone official so far:
- Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (2014)
- Lara Croft Go (2015)
If we’re looking at the handheld or mobile-specific Tomb Raider games, then here’s the order for that as well:
- Tomb Raider (2000)
- Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword (2001)
- Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (2002)
- Lara Croft: Reflections (2013)
- Lara Croft: Relic Run (2015)
With our comprehensive listicle, you have already got the clue as to how big the Tomb Raider franchise is. The series was so in demand that the developers decided to reboot it thrice, resulting in three timelines – Original, Legend, and Survival. We have driven deep into all three timelines and explored all the titles that are a part of them. Furthermore, we have looked into two orders – release and chronological.
Hopefully, after reading our comprehensive article, you will have a deep insight into the franchise and will know how to play the Tomb Raider games in order on your PC or your favorite console.
Also Read: Resident Evil Games in Order