If you're picking Shadow of the Tomb Raider up, you'll see the game has several ways to customize your experience. The standard easy, normal, hard, and very hard difficulties are all there, but Shadow also allows you to individually customize how challenging the game's combat, exploration, and puzzles are.
Several of us have had the chance to play through Shadow already. In the video above, Jean-Luc explains what the game's hard difficulty entails, and why you should start there for the best tomb raiding experience.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider's hard difficulty--called One With The Jungle--increases enemy heath and damage, removes both Lara's health regeneration during combat and her survival instinct's ability to highlight enemies, and decreases the amount of ammo boxes Lara can find. This doesn't affect exploration and puzzles all that much, but it does make the game's combat much harder and encourages a stealthy approach to taking out threats. Shadow's combat isn't all that difficult to begin with, and Lara's coolest abilities are highlighted in a stealth playthrough, so One With The Jungle is definitely where you want to start.
If you're looking to make the exploration and puzzles equally challenging, crank their difficulties all the way up. This removes the white paint from the environment that hints where you're supposed to go next, and also keeps Lara from voicing hints when you're solving a puzzle. This really forces you to stop and look at the environments Lara visits and pay close attention to the tombs she explores. It does slow the game down though, so don't raise the difficulty of either if you're just looking forward to enjoying the story. If all of that still isn't challenging enough for you, then turn off Lara's survival instinct in the difficulty settings.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider's very hard difficulty--titled Deadly Obsession--removes save checkpoints between base camps, so dying in combat or falling off a cliff can lose you an hour of progress. Although it sounds tempting for anyone who wants the ultimate challenge, we advise saving it for a second playthrough when you have a better understanding of the game. Start with One With The Jungle.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on September 14, and is available for pre-order now. In our Shadow of the Tomb Raider review, Edmund Tran gave the game a 6/10, writing, "Thankfully, the parts of Tomb Raider that make it really fantastic--uncovering the mystery of ancient ruins, solving impressive challenge tombs, and exploring exotic environments--are still here in Shadow, and they are just as outstanding as they have always been. But the core mechanics that have been with the series for half a decade are starting to show their limitations."