In the past, Lara Croft didn't need protecting. She was a fearless daredevil, a crack shot in short shorts with enough attitude to scare off a pack of bloodthirsty gorillas.
But in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, things will be different. She hasn't become that woman yet. And executive producer Ron Rosenberg says you'll want to keep her safe.
"When people play Lara, they don't really project themselves into the character," Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.
"They're more like 'I want to protect her.' There's this sort of dynamic of 'I'm going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.'"
So is she still the hero? I asked Rosenberg if we should expect to look at Lara a little bit differently than we have in the past.
"She's definitely the hero but— you're kind of like her helper," he said. "When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character."
The new Lara Croft isn't just less battle-hardened; she's less voluptuous. Gone are her ridiculous proportions and skimpy clothing. This Lara feels more human, more real. That's intentional, Rosenberg says.
"You start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character."
"The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear," he said. "She literally goes from zero to hero... we're sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again."
In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She'll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her.
"She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."
It's some dark material, the type of content you might not expect from an action-adventure game like Tomb Raider. But Rosenberg isn't worried about alarming people too much. He says players will see right away that this is a darker, "more mature" version of Lara's story. He compared it to the origin story of a comic book like Spider-Man or Batman, saying he thinks it "has that feel to it."
"We're not trying to be over the top, shock people for shock's sake," he said. "We're trying to tell a great origin story."