Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter Update: PC Version Options & "Greater than Shenmue 2" Scale

A new Kickstarter Update has been released by YS Net containing two main topics which we will summarize in this post. One is regarding the PC versions of the game, and the other is an overview of features that have been included in the final game.

PC Versions: Delayed Steam Key & Refund Requests

The first is an official response and apology with regards to the backlash received from a portion of Shenmue 3 backers at the news announced at E3 that Epic Games will be distributing the PC version through their online store with time-limited exclusivity for a period of a year. This response comes on behalf of YS Net (the game's creator), Deep Silver (publisher) and Epic Games.

While the possibility of making Steam keys available on the release date was looked at, this won't be possible due to the "sales policies of the involved companies." However there will be an option for backers choosing to receive the PC version to also receive a Steam key one year later once the exclusivity period has expired. It will also be possible to switch from the PC version to the PS4 and vice versa.

However for those who are not satisfied with this proposal, refund requests will be honored. There is a caveat that a full refund may not be possible for those cases where the rewards have already been implemented (such as in-game content).

Update: the CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, has confirmed that Epic will be covering the costs of refunds so they will not affect the game's development budget.

A further announcement will be made when the backer survey has been adjusted accordingly, and a refund request process has been set up.

Scale of Shenmue 3 "Greater Than Shenmue 2"

The update also included some clarifications about what features we can expect to be in the final game, compared to the list of stretch goals from the original Kickstarter campaign. While there are a few elements mentioned on the Stretch Goal list that did not end up making it into the game, many others (ten in fact!) that were not originally reached during the campaign have been able to be included in the game.

One element that has not been implemented is the Character Perspective System, which was to have been part of the Baisha section and would have allowed the player to switch control between Ryo and other characters such as Shenhua and Ren. Another is the High Ground Battle System: the concept behind this system was to allow for increased interactions with the surroundings during battle.

It was also explained that there has been a change to the original plan of a separate area of Baisha that was proposed during the Kickstarter campaign. Instead there will be a "Fortified Castle" area and importantly, all of the other features that had originally been assigned as stretch goals for Baisha, such as mini-games, an infiltration mission, investigation and a battle event, will be in the game. This change was made to allow focus on expanding Niaowu.
* In the Japanese version of the announcement, the word used for "Fortified Castle" is 対岸の古城 which gives a little more clue about its nature. The last two characters (古城) mean an old castle or fortress, while the first two mean "opposite shore" or "opposite bank". So this could indicate that this old fortress may be located on the opposite bank of the Li River from Niaowu. Might those set of steps set into the mountainside opposite Niaowu that can be seen in the Prophecy trailer lead to this location..?
From "The Prophecy" trailer: the mountainside area on the left (in the section marked "f") appears have a staircase and other buildings.

A Vastly-Expanded Shenmue III

The best part of the announcement was the confirmation of how much the game has been expanded and redesigned to take advantage of the larger budget that came about following the Kickstarter campaign, with partnerships with Deep Silver and others.

In fact, several of the original Stretch Goals that were not reached during the Kickstarter campaign have been included such as mini games, betting games, and part time jobs in Bailu village and Niaowu. (See image).

Regarding the scale of the game, the open world nature of the game has been significantly enhanced compared to original plans, resulting in "a scale greater than that of Shenmue II". This includes a much-increased number of NPCs and objects that can be interacted with in the environment/

In addition, the battle system has been given depth with an adjustable level of difficulty and the ability to train or participate in matches at any time with the Skill Book System and the Dojo System.

Attention was also paid to the game cycle: improving the way the various elements integrate and interact with each other such as the story progression, acquisition of skills, training, mini-games, jobs and so on.

It is also nice to hear the the story includes more cinematic scenes and nostalgic flashbacks to help both new and veteran players get drawn into the story.

Hearing these details confirmed should be enough to get every Shenmue fan's heart racing as we head towards the 19th November release date!

A Message from Yu Suzuki

Yu Suzuki also has a message for everyone at the end of the announcement in which he apologizes for the way the EGS exclusive distribution deal was presented, but goes on to say:

"We are working hard to deliver a game better than hoped even if by a little for the announced release date. Along with the significant project changes at the heart of this announcement, there have been many other changes since our original assumptions. I believe, however, that the game overall has been strengthened and that Shenmue III has assuredly been transformed and is heading in a positive direction."

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  1. Replies
    1. Yes! Hopefully focus can now move back to the main topic: the game itself and the fact it will be in our hands very soon!