After the last two entries in the series released more than a decade ago, Shenmue 3 is transitioning to current-generation consoles with Unreal Engine 4, paving the way for improvements to the game’s load times.
In an interview with Eurogamer, game director Yu Suzuki explained how Shenmue 3 tackles load times. “This time, you’ll start in a large area which will require some initial loading, but compared to before the loading situation will be much better,” said Suzuki. “It’s much faster now.” In retrospect, the first two Shenmue games ran on a custom-built engine and had plenty of loading screens when transitioning from gameplay to cutscenes or going to a new location. As load times in the first two games would vary from three to 10 seconds, Shenmue 3’s improvements to load times could be minimal, unless the team is eyeing seamless exploration similar to Yakuza 6.
Aside from improvements to load times, Suzuki said the team is modernizing some of Shenmue 3‘s gameplay aspects, but is undecided regarding the control scheme. “On one hand, I wanted to keep a similar configuration to the original game, but on the other hand, there are new trends in control that I’m considering,” Suzuki told Eurogamer. “For the moment, I’m using the right trigger for running and the analog stick for camera control like the original. That’s current setup but I haven’t made up my mind yet [sic].”
According to Suzuki, Unreal Engine has made prototyping ideas easier, but difficult to fine tune. Shenmue 3 is one of the few open-world games that uses Unreal Engine 4. Other notable Unreal Engine 4-powered games include Ark: Survival Evolved and Conan Exiles. Upcoming AAA titles that use Unreal Engine 4 include Days Gone, Crackdown 3, and Kingdom Hearts 3.
Shenmue 3 releases in the second half of 2018 for PC and PS4. Recently, game listings for a Shenmue HD pack surfaced on several retailers.