Love it or loath it, the original Tomb Raider played a pivotal role in the popularization and development of the action adventure genre. It’s inspired countless other franchises over the years, although none have been quite as impressive as Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. Much like Tomb Raider itself, Uncharted features some great puzzles, some wonderful locations and is incredibly reliant on the strength of its main protagonist.
Just as Lara Croft had done for Tomb Raider almost a decade prior, Nathan Drake really helped to sell the Uncharted experience and is a big part of what makes the series so fantastic to play. Both he and Lara are great heroes in their own right, but when it comes to robbing graves and raiding tombs, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
10 Lara: Unmatched Experience
It may seem like a lot longer to some, but Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune released only 13 years ago. What’s more, Nathan has only featured in three additional mainline Uncharted games since then. Sure, one or two of them do cover periods from the past as well as the present, but compared to his Tomb Raider counterpart, he’s still a little wet behind the ears.
Lara’s first outing came a quarter of a century ago now and was the first of 12 mainline Tomb Raider titles. If spinoffs and mobile games are also taken into account, this number rises to 25. At an average of one per year, this not only makes her a more recognizable adventurer, but also a more experienced one as well.
9 Nathan: Consistently Excellent
While Lara may have been around a lot longer, not all of her adventures have been worth writing home about. The 21st century brought with it a string of mediocre Tomb Raider titles which very nearly killed the franchise entirely. Recent releases have certainly steadied the ship, but some of those earlier efforts definitely bring the average down.
In contrast, each of Nathan’s outings has been incredibly memorable and together they boast an impressive average Metascore of 92.25. Many consider Uncharted 2: Among Thieves to be the best game of the PS3 era while Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End ranks among the best titles on the console’s successor.
8 Lara: An Unquenchable Thirst For Adventure
For as unforgettable as Nathan’s past adventures have been, he now seems ready to hang up his holster for good in order to enjoy a quiet life with his wife and daughter. It’s certainly possible that the promise of adventure will some day entice him out of retirement, although, for now at least, it looks like his treasure hunting days are well and truly behind him. The same cannot be said for Lara though.
Thanks to the success of the 2013 reboot, the Tomb Raider franchise is stronger than it’s ever been. There’s a new spinoff title expected out later this year as well as an animated Netflix show and yet another Tomb Raider movie. Nathan’s will also be appearing on the silver screen in the near future, although, unlike Lara, he doesn’t seem to have much of a future in gaming.
7 Nathan: Destined For Greatness
One of the things that makes Lara such a wonderful protagonist is her emotional strength and her strong sense of independence. Were it not for the latter, in fact, she may never have become a tomb raider at all. Although she declined, her aristocratic parents had originally planned for her to marry the Earl of Farringdon and live the privileged life of a Lady. Nathan, on the other hand, was born to be a treasure hunter. Well. Maybe.
His mother was a renowned archaeologist and firmly believed that the famed British explorer Sir Francis Drake still had living heirs. So much so, in fact, that she dedicated much of her life to proving it. Upon learning of her work, Nathan and his brother Sam adopted the Drake surname and have at times claimed to be two of those very descendants. Naughty Dog has never specified whether the brothers really are related to Drake, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility either.
6 Lara: Financial Clout
While his mother being an archaeologist likely had a huge influence on Nathan’s chosen career path, this inspiration is one of the very few things that she left him with. She died when he was just five years old which led to Nathan and Sam being sent to a catholic orphanage. They eventually ran away though and lived in poverty for quite some time.
Hailing from a wealthy family, money is never something that Lara has had to worry about. She grew up in a mansion and even had a butler for a while too until she locked him in a walk in freezer. While this privileged upbringing brought with it a lot of expectations, it also provided her with the financial capital required to finance some of her many expeditions and adventures.
5 Nathan: A Self-Made Man
The status and wealth of the Croft family opened up a lot of doors for Lara that Nathan just couldn’t walk through. As well as being able to attend university, she was also blessed with the guidance and support of people like Werner Von Croy. Without his help, it’s doubtful that Lara would have been anywhere near as successful as she has been. Not everybody needs a mentor though.
Older brother Sam definitely acted as a role model of sorts to Nathan while the pair were growing up, but much of what he’s learned and accomplished over the years has come as the result of his own industrious nature. Sully chipped in a little too, but Nathan’s success as a treasure hunter can ultimately be attributed to his intelligence, his hard work and, most of all, his perseverance.
4 Lara: A Deadly Combatant
This perseverance has come in particularly useful when it comes to physical combat. Nathan has had his ass handed to him quite a few times over the years, but has never once given up as a result. It’s definitely a fantastic attribute to have, although being a more skilled combatant like Lara would arguably be a lot more useful in these situations.
Since bursting onto the scene dual-wielding a pair of pistols, Lara has gone on to show proficiency with a number of other deadly weapons. She’s also able to upgrade her own equipment through crafting and has shown herself to be just as capable with her fists as she is with her bow or guns on numerous occasions.
3 Nathan: A Silver-Tongued Rogue
Lara’s strong combat skills can likely be attributed to how well-practiced she is. Since her very first outing, she’s been involved in a ridiculous number of firefights which have forced her to hone these techniques. Were she to approach some of these situations a little differently, however, she probably wouldn’t find herself in nearly as many life or death situations.
Though he can be incredibly irritating at times, Nathan is more than capable of turning on the charm when he thinks it’s needed. It doesn’t always work, but he’s been able to talk himself out of plenty of highly-charged situations over the years; often negating the need for the use of violence or deadly force entirely.
2 Lara: Extremely Well-Traveled
Since running away to Colombia in his teenage years, Nathan has gone on to visit numerous countries and historical sites. He has friends and contacts scattered all over the world and is a fairly competent sailor and diver as well. For as well-traveled as he is though, he needs quite a few more stamps in his passport if he wants to catch up with Lara.
In her 25 years as a treasure hunter, Lara has visited six of the world’s seven continents; many of them on multiple occasions. She’s seen several of the seven wonders, picked up multiple foreign languages and just might be one of the most well-cultured women on the planet at this point.
1 Nathan: Encyclopedic Knowledge
Lara’s time travelling the world and her university education have made her incredibly knowledgeable; both when it comes to foreign cultures and archaeology. Unfortunately, however, her knowledge of the past can sometimes let her down a little; especially when compared to the encyclopedic knowledge that Nathan has.
Though he often tries to hide or downplay it, Nathan is one of the most well-read people alive when it comes to ancient history. He’s able to speak several dead languages, can solve complex puzzles with relative ease and always seems to have the answers when a new piece of information reveals itself. He may not have a fancy degree like his Tomb Raider counterpart, but he’s proven himself to be an expert in his field on countless occasions.