Friday, October 4, 2019

Shenmue 3 Trial First Impressions from Yuc02 [Part 1/2]

Shenmue Dojo member and frequent guest poster yuc02 has contributed a new article describing his experience and thoughts on the Shenmue 3 Trial. There are two parts in total, with this being Part One. Enjoy!

Shenmue 3 Trial First Impressions (Part One)

Wow, what a month September has been. After the fantastic new trailer from TGS, the trial version of the game has finally been released to Kickstarters and Slacker Backers who have donated at the $100 tier or above. I was fortunate enough to be one of them, and here are my first impressions of the gameplay and environments, as well as opinions on the Epic Games launcher itself.

After the KS announcements 115 and 116, Fangamer promptly sent me the download code via email on the morning of September 27th.
The download code and play guides on the Fangamer site
Following the instructions in update 115, I easily installed and downloaded the trial to my laptop, despite the wait being slightly unbearable (although thankfully not as long as the 18 year wait for S3!).

The Epic Games launcher
Clicking on the launch button, a wave of emotion and anticipation took over me, since after all it’s the first time since 2001 that I would be experiencing a brand new Shenmue entry!

There were nice touches even before I pressed any buttons – a splash screen of Yu Suzuki’s name in calligraphy showed his artistic flair, and the new “Ys” chime that was first heard in the Magic 2019 trailer were shown. Best of all however, is an English version of the Prophecy trailer, voiced by Brianna Knickerbocker, with updated character models that show the impressive progress by the YS Net team. (Later on one could watch the same trailer in Japanese if he/she changed the language options.)

After the intro, it was my turn to actually do something! My laptop is not the highest spec gaming machine around, but I kept the graphics options at “Very High”, determined to see the maximum visual fidelity with some concessions on frame rate.

The other issue for me was that my Xbox controller had driver/connection problems, which meant I was left to play the game with my keyboard. Unfortunately there was no button mapping config shown in the options menu or in the PDF guide. Eventually I figured out the mapping, listed below for those who have similar troubles:
  • Action button controls - k = “A” button, l = “B”, i = “Y”, j = “X”
  • Camera controls (right analogue stick) - h = up, n = down, b = left, m = right
  • Ryo movement (left analogue stick) - w = up, a = left, s = down, d = right
  • Menu select (D-pad controls) - f = up, x = left, c = down, v = right
  • Special buttons - Ctrl = LTrigger (Zoom), r = L3 (switch focus), shift = RTrigger, u = R2 (Inventory) and y = R3 (Camera Reset)

An Immense Amount of Detail

Here are my impressions from the actual trial.

  • The landscape is beautiful (as Peter from the Shenmue Dojo also attested to) – vivid shades of pink, yellow, lush greens and sky blues filled my screen.  The game shouts “SEGA”! 
  • The scenery feels slightly more fantastical than realistic when compared to the first few games, but as Yu Suzuki pointed out before, he wanted to “refine the realism” so that people can appreciate the best parts of the open world. 
  • Graphically a giant leap up from the second game, with high definition and long draw distances, it most definitely does not look out of place in 2019. 

  • Walking around a bit, it became clear that the amount of detail is immense, with birds that fly in groups high over the sky, footprints on the soil (seems like it rained recently) and dirt drawings by the adorable village children. It really makes the place feel alive!
  • The NPCs that Ryo interact with all have unique and interesting characteristics, and it seems like at the stage where the trial was set, Ryo had already known most of the villagers.  Character models (especially the elderly) have intricate facial details such as wrinkles, and the others have generally improved from the E3 videos.

This brings us to the end of Part One.

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