Tomb Raider was incredibly important for me in my younger years. The escapism it provided was more than needed during my depressing teenage years. Needless to say I was over
the moon when I was chosen to represent the UK and Russia at E3!
Weeks before my journey I had to upgrade my equipment since I wanted to provide a good quality
video recap of my experience as well as take lots of good photos. Investing in that equipment paid off as I managed to provide good quality media and my video
recap is currently in production so stay tuned.
Equipment is one thing but I also like to attend important expos covered in Tomb Raider. I devised a
plan to wear a different Tomb Raider t-shirt along with suitable jeans and footwear each day. All custom hand-painted! IE:
I took the responsibility of representing my communities very serious. I purchased an
unlimited data American sim card with the help of my American friend Tatiana. I didn’t want to rely on the mercy of public Wi-Fi.
And so I started packing. I actually got carried away and packed up to the limit of 23 kilos.
Most of the luggage was photo and video equipment, clothes and hair products (I can’t be on camera looking like Kesha).
After a night out in Manchester I went to the airport at 7 AM. I must say that I’m normally a very reticent
person, you really can’t get me excited about anything, but as I was sitting in the duty free of Manchester airport it started to get to me. I started thinking
about my past and how Tomb Raider games literally saved my life. While waiting for my flight I collected my thoughts into a post I wrote on the subject.
Finally I was airborne. I had to take a connecting flight at Washington Dulles. It was a long
long loooooong flight. Thankfully United has Wi-Fi on board so I was spamming people for most of the flight.
At LAX I was greeted by a driver who took me to the Hilton Hotel by Universal Studios. I briefly
took a shower and I, along with most of the ambassadors, left to explore the Universal City Walk in the epic quest for something to eat.
The following day we had a short briefing regarding our agenda. We were also given these amazing personalised gifts:
Later that day we went to the Walk of Fame, had our dinner and went to see Jurassic World in 3D at the
famous Chinese Theatre.
The next day was absolute madness. We had a 7AM start so we could go to the Xbox Media Briefing where the
first gameplay of the Rise of the Tomb Raider would be shown. We got on our bus and set off. The traffic in Los Angeles is terrible and the roads are worse. My
arse would personally recognise every single bump and give them names. After about an hour of driving (and therefore passing James, Chris, John, Lewis,
Hamid, Jake and hundreds of other road bumps) we finally arrived.
Upon arrival we were given glitzy Xbox necklaces that would flash in sync with various presentations.
I probably shouldn’t really describe my impressions of the gameplay as you have probably seen it yourself. However, it was a breath-taking experience to see it there and then rather than in front of a monitor. I also got goose bumps when I saw the German Shepherd in Fallout 4! It really reminded me of my late dog.
The new Xbox controller also looks amazing. Definitely will get it for my PC. I already had
my eye on HoloLens and the presentation totally sold it to me. As for getting
an Xbox 1 to play Rise…I have got an impressive gaming laptop (Microsoft platform), I have a Surface Pro 3 tablet (Microsoft), I’ll be getting HoloLens (Microsoft). Not getting a console though.
I’m very loyal to my brands but as a PC gamer I don’t consider buying a console a reasonable investment. Though I still will be able to play the game in
November. More on this later!
Later that same day we had dinner and personal interviews with Brian Horton and Noah Hughes.
The day ended with a VIP demo presentation of the game accompanied by an ice sculpture through which
they poured Fireball shots. Brian Horton presented us further Siberia gameplay you can now watch here. That presentation was very fun. It was like a party.
Except after being up since 7AM we were all worn out by 10PM.
The next morning we went to the Los Angeles Convention Center (or Centre hmm). The Tomb Raider stand was impressively gargantuan, replete with a huge
mountain cave. Inside that cave was a room where the gameplay was shown. We were the first people to go in. They also
showed us gameplay of Syria (something that was not shown to the general public yet). You can read my impressions on Syria here.
After we exited the cave there was a massive queue of people outside. We were then left to explore
E3 proper. Only then did I realise how huge the Los Angeles Convention Center is! It’s about twice the size of the Eurogamer expo. There were a few
celebrities there including Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. I even met Madonna and managed to interview her!
Most of the ambassadors went back home the following day. Those who remained decided to go
and explore Los Angeles while I decided to go back to Los Angeles Convention Center and take more photos and videos.
I had finished with E3 by 4 pm and reunited with those few ambassadors who decided to stay for a few
extra days. We went together to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica beach, where we wrote Lara Croft on the sand.
To be fair, both of these days at E3 were very tiring. Since the Internet connection there was so
dreadful (even if you pay for Wi-Fi access) that I had to take photos, run to another
end of the hall where I’d get a weak 4G connection, post it on Russian Tomb
Raider community and twitter, and then run back so as to not miss anything. As
a result of this, I ended up with blisters all over my feet!
Next morning we had a short flight to San Francisco where we were going to visit the studios of
Crystal Dynamics. Redwood City is very beautiful. The studios are on the fifth floor with an amazing lobby with lots
of Lara Croft figurines, awards and trophies. When we got inside we weren’t really allowed to take photos or videos as we were under NDA conditions.
I’ll skip the tourist bits as no one is interested in that stuff anyway. This is a Tomb Raider
related blog and not Trip Advisor :p
We headed back to Los Angeles and then went to Universal studios the next day.
My trip concluded at the Getty Museum. There’s this amazing installation where people can leave
messages of what they hope for, what they’re proud of and what they’re scared
of. Of course I had to throw in a little bit of classic Lara there!
The gardens in that
museum look like they’re inspired by Scion!
My trip back was also an adventure. First of all I had too much stuff. I had to take two pairs of
jeans along with other items into my hand luggage. After a 5 hour flight to
Newark I checked onto another flight headed to Manchester. The plane was
taxiing for about an hour as there was a massive queue of other planes trying
to take off, and then something broke down and we were forced to go back to the
gate. All together we spent about 4.5 hours on the runway. It was like 35°C
outside and United’s crap of a plane had a broken air conditioning system! I
spent those 4.5 hours practicing my wit and swearing ability at United’s twitter
account. And when I finally landed I also brought hell to their desk at the
airport. Surely the delay is not their fault, but they should properly inspect
their planes. My seat was also broken and I had issues with their flights on
the way to LAX.
Anyways, that was a short recap of my E3 experience. As I said before I’m in the process of editing
a video recap together. Shelley Blond will be doing some voice overs for it and
I hope you guys will love it!
I’ve met so many interesting and famous people and I realized that I forgot to bring a poster for them to sign! Nevermind, technology to the rescue! In this case my phablet Galaxy Note Edge proved to be good in taking autographs!
Special thanks go to
Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics for making this happen. It was an absolutely
amazing experience and I’m eternally grateful for it. Also kudos to
Laracroft.ru, it was an honour to represent you guys and I loved posting all
the updates on your group.
PS. Someone absolutely amazing is lending me their Xbox360 so I am going to be able to play Rise of
the Tomb Raider! After I’m done with it I will be nailing Fallout 4 until ROTR
is out on PC so I’ll replay it with spectacular graphics.
Is it November yet?
Jonathon Cooper and Terenete.
Transportation, lodging, and E3 badge provided by Crystal Dynamics and Xbox as a part of the E3 2015 Ambassador Program.