In an interview with DualShockers, Shenmue III director/producer Yu Suzuki spoke on new details regarding it’s story, gameplay, and technical aspects.
According to Suzuki many new characters will be debuting as well as older characters making their return. No new characters have been named yet but Suzuki spoke of four main bosses, two which have not been previously seen. Returning characters from the series include Chai (the first game’s main antagonist), Nozomi (Ryo’s love interest in the first game), and Lan Di (the series’ main antagonist)
A romance system is mentioned and will work in game through phone calls between Ryo and Nozomi. Romance is said to be an important theme of the game with Suzuki drawing influence from the classic movies Casablanca and Roman Holiday.
Suzuki demonstrates the AI Battling system in the video below. The AI Battling system is a tiered goal that will be included in the game once funding hits the $7 million mark.
During the Sony’s 2015 E3 press conference where Shenmue III was revealed they also revealed the game would be developed using Unreal Engine 4. Suzuki spoke on his decision on using that engine.
It was the portrayal of colors, the shaders and the rendering engine. They’re close to the image I have for the world of Shenmue III. Unreal Engine 4 allows me to portray what I think the humidity and the smell of the world should be. If you see a scene in the desert, you will feel the dry air of the desert. I feel that I can bring those abstract qualities of climate and atmosphere to life using Unreal Engine 4.
The issue of bringing back original voice actors of the first two games was addressed as Suzuki noted that in the 15 years since the original two games several voice actors had retired, as well as some having their voices change. Suzuki says he has paid attention to fan requests for original actors has been “trying to bring them back, at least those whose voice did not change much.”
Release of the game is still set for 2017. A Kickstarter campaign was announced for Shenmue III at E3 2015 with an initial goal of $2 million. The goal was reached in under eight hours; the fastest Kickstarter campaign to reach that goal. At the campaign’s end in July the game had raised over $6 million, becoming the most funded video game and the sixth most funded campaign in Kickstarter history. Crowdfunding resumed in September through a “Slacker Backer” campaign and at time of publication is sitting at $6,404,282 USD.