The Best Tomb Raider Games Ranked

Close up of Lara Croft's face in Rise of the Tomb Raider
Image Credit: Square Enix.

Over the years, there have been many Tomb Raider games, with the first-ever game coming out for PS1 in 1996. Since then, they have gone on to be a cult classic. Along the way, remakes have happened, and the games have received modernized graphics and new storylines in each. 

We will rank every single mainline Tomb Raider game so you know which ones are the best and which should be avoided.

S Tier – Tomb Raider (1996)

Lara Croft looking at a temple in Tomb Raider 1
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

The original Tomb Raider will always come first. This game is iconic and has a fantastic soundtrack to go with it. Whether you spend your time in Lara’s Mansion bolting across the assault course or traversing through the catacombs of Vilcabamba, this game has a lot to offer. 

There are so many twists and turns within the story, and it remains fresh in my mind since the first time I played it. Of course, the graphics are incredibly dated, but that doesn’t detract from the intense combat you experience and the confusing puzzles you must complete. 

Luckily for those who want a fresh experience, Tomb Raider Remastered will be coming to all platforms on February 14, 2024, with updated graphics and all expansions included. This game is so worth the hours you can sink into it, and the end boss of Tomb Raider will always be vivid in my memory.

S Tier – Tomb Raider II

Tomb Raider 2 - Lara climbing above a spike pit
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

Tomb Raider II is a fantastic game with updated graphics, a new expansive world to traverse, and an updated look and feel to Lara’s Mansion. It even comes with the iconic butler, Winston! Whether you spend your time completing the hedge maze in Lara’s Mansion or trying to get a new time on the assault course in her garden, Lara’s Mansion is packed full of content in and of itself. 

Moving onto the adventure of Tomb Raider II, you start in China, make your way to Italy, and then circle back to Tibet. This game features a vivid world full of color and danger at every corner. From running for your life from traps in caves to fighting off Jade statues in China, there is so much to explore in Tomb Raider II. 

In this sequel, you even get to use a Snowmobile and Motorboat. While the controls are a tad bit clunky, they are incredibly fun to use and can lead to some high-speed chases. 

S Tier – Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

Lara Croft looking at the ground below in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation introduces young Lara and her suspicious mentor, Werner Van Croy. Even though no new mechanics were added to this game, the plot still holds strong as the player learns more about her past and how she became a Tomb Raider.

This is also the longest Tomb Raider game out of all the classics, with a whopping 35 levels to make your way through. Despite most other games taking you to multiple countries, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation only takes place in Cambodia and Egypt. It does take you through different parts of Egypt, with some of the game even taking place in the Pyramids. 

Overall, the atmosphere for this game is quite different from the others, and some of it can leave your skin crawling with how thick and creepy the atmosphere is. 

S Tier – Tomb Raider Chronicles

Lara running through an X-Ray machine in Tomb Raider Chronicles
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

It’s a controversial choice, but Tomb Raider Chronicles always stood strong for me. Despite not being a bestseller compared to the others, I loved the boss fights and mechanics throughout Tomb Raider Chronicles. This time, the game returns to its roots and takes the player on a longer journey through Rome, a Russian Submarine, Ireland, and some suspicious Headquarters. 

This game added some new mechanics to the mix, and we saw Lara Croft in various costumes as she went on her adventures. Some of these abilities include walking along a tightrope, which could lead to some very tense moments in the game. The game also allowed her to use a grappling gun to create ropes to swing on and a crowbar to break locks should she need to. 

A Tier – Tomb Raider III

Tomb Raider 3 - Lara looking up at a waterfall
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

While we saw Lara Croft go on various adventures in Tomb Raider III, it didn’t feel like anything new compared to Tomb Raider 4 and 5. In this game, we saw her travel through lush rainforests in India, London’s wet streets, and even Antarctica’s harsh cold. 

You can choose from multiple locations in Tomb Raider III, and once you’ve completed the beginning levels in India, you can choose to go to whichever location you like next. Compared to the other games, most of the game takes place underwater. If you aren’t a fan of the swimming mechanics in this game, you won’t be a huge fan of this, either. 

That being said, we see Lara use various fun and exciting weapons, including a Grenade Launcher, a Rocket Launcher, and a Harpoon Gun. 

A Tier – Tomb Raider Anniversary

Lara Croft walking into a jungle in Tomb Raider Anniversary
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

The remake of Tomb Raider takes on the original format of the first ever Tomb Raider game and improves it, changing up the graphics and even adding new mechanics that didn’t exist in the first game. This time, we see her utilize a grappling hook, swing from ropes, shimmy across tiny platforms, and more. Lara is incredibly agile in this game, leading to a more fast paced experience throughout Tomb Raider Anniversary. 

Not only is the game more intense, but there are also quick time events that players will have to complete in certain moments throughout the adventure, giving the game an extra level of difficulty that the original didn’t have. 

A Tier – Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara Croft being bitten by a wolf in Tomb Raider 2013
Image Credit: Square Enix Europe.

Tomb Raider (2013) gave the franchise a whole new life, rebooting the franchise all over again. This game is vast and offers a lot of different mechanics for the player to explore, such as hunting and using a bow and arrow. There are new ways to traverse the environment, from ziplines to noticeable footpaths. 

Much like Tomb Raider Anniversary, quick time events made a comeback in this game. For the first time ever in this franchise, a multiplayer mode is available where players can participate in PvP. 

Overall, Tomb Raider breathed life into what was supposedly a dead franchise and has brought a whole new host of players who now get to appreciate Tomb Raider. 

A Tier – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Lara jumping a large gap in Rise of the Tomb Raider
Image Credit: Square Enix.

The sequel to Tomb Raider and the second installment of the Survivor trilogy, this game takes Lara Croft into Siberia. This game didn’t add too many new mechanics to the series and kept it very much the same as Tomb Raider, with her exploring a mythical city. With a host of weapons at her disposal, the more enemies she dispatches, the more XP she gets, which you can use to upgrade a skill tree. 

I love a skill tree, which will always be a bonus in a game. The skill trees have a lot of utility in this game, allowing Lara to become stronger and better equipped with her weapons, whether you want to be a stealthy attacker or go all in.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a fantastic game overall, but it didn’t add anything new to the mix, and I felt like it was more of the same. 

B Tier – Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft stood in front of a fire on a Mayan statue in Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Image Credit: Square Enix Europe.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was more ambitious than Rise of the Raider, making it a well-rounded game with a bit of a subpar story. This game sees Lara exploring Mexico and Peru. This game also adds in bartering mechanics, allowing Lara to sell off the supplies she collected in her surroundings. What Shadow of the Tomb Raider does well is building on the already intense combat system and improving the stealth mechanics throughout the game.

Utilizing stealth can get Lara out of sticky situations, and she can escape freely by breaking the line of sight. This game is incredibly tense. With Challenge Tombs and the incredible flood scene at the start of the game, it will surely have you full of adrenaline. 

B Tier – Tomb Raider: Underworld

Lara Croft scaling a cliff next to a statue in Tomb Raider Underworld
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

The graphics for this period are amazing, and it is one of the best-looking games on Xbox 360. This game gives Lara a whole host of new agile movements, allowing her to jump from vertical poles, crawl through spaces, and much more. 

The world of this game is immense, and for its time, it gave players a lot to sink their teeth into. The puzzles in this game can be pretty tricky at times, with many requiring you to be underwater to solve them. The world is expansive on the ground level, and the underwater scenes are fantastic, too. The game is still worth a playthrough if you haven’t given it a shot already.

C Tier – Tomb Raider: Legend 

Lara Croft scaling a mountain next to a waterfall - Tomb Raider Legend
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

The first reboot in a trilogy that provides a wealth of information about protagonist Lara Croft, this is the flattest game in the trilogy. Overall, the game is relatively short, with only eight levels. Of course, this game comes with plenty of agility, trial and error. There are also puzzles and quick time events that need to be completed to progress. 

The story isn’t that fantastic until the end of the game, where there are some pretty juicy plot twists. Other than that, it is nothing spectacular, but it is a fun game nonetheless. 

D Tier – Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness - Lara and older woman
Image Credit: Eidos Interactive.

We end our list of the best Tomb Raider games with the elephant in the room: Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. It comes as no surprise that this game is the lowest on the list. While the game has some fun elements, it was bizarre that Lara Croft had almost been given a grunge aesthetic, clad in all black and exploring some rather dingy locations. 

The most peculiar part of this game is that she was given somewhat of a love interest named Kurtis. It almost seemed like the game was trying to do too much, adding in hand-to-hand combat, a super jump, and this weird, flirty atmosphere between Lara and Kurtis. It felt very out of place compared to other Tomb Raider games.  

That concludes our tier list of all of the mainline Tomb Raider games. You may or may not agree with some of the rankings on this list. These games are heavily rooted in nostalgia and bring back great memories! It goes without saying I’m very excited for the release of Tomb Raider I-III Remastered.

What is your favorite Tomb Raider game?

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Written by Amy Eastland

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