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It seems like fans of Shenmue just can't catch a break. While gamers have been waiting the last 15 years in order to finally receive some sort of closure for the Shenmue series, which left off on a huge cliffhanger in Shenmue 2, you won't be getting any closure at any point in 2018. Why? Because Shenmue 3 has been delayed.
Polygon is reporting that Ys Net has decided that the third game in the long-delayed trilogy will not release in late 2018 as originally planned, but instead the game will arrive during the first quarter of 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and for PC.
This comes from a Kickstarter update to backers informing them that Ys Net needed the extra year to polish up the game even further and improve the quality standards within the given time frame.
As noted in the article, the original Shenmue 3 was announced as a Kickstarter project during the stage presentation of Sony's E3 press conference back in 2015. It was basically pitched as a game that would bring the trilogy to completion after a decade of absence from the market. Yu Suzuki, the creative director, had stated that the team would need about $10 million to bring the game to fruition, but the Kickstarter campaign ended up rounding out with $6.3 million in total.
Many believe that publishing partners may have footed the $3.7 million bill to help round off the project's financing at $10 million, however Yu Suzuki has yet to say what the total budget is for Shenmue 3 when taking into account both crowdfunding and outside investor funds.
Despite being in development for three years, we actually haven't seen much in the way of actual in-game play. The developers have been keeping a very close lid on what sort of gameplay mechanisms will be present and how the game will unfold for today's generation of gamer.
There have been some criticisms about the game's old-school approach to the character designs, while others have criticized the stiff facial animations and stilted voice acting. Some fans rather enjoy the fact that Yu Suzuki is keeping the game consistent with how it was developed for the Dreamcast and later the OG Xbox more than 15 years ago.
Some are speculating that the reason for the actual delay may have more to do with wanting to be overshadowed by the release of Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2, rather than the fact that the game itself needed an entire year of polish.
Of course, unlike a lot of other games out there, many of the mechanisms and systems for Shenmue 3 had to be built from the ground up in the Unreal Engine 4. It's not like the team could pick and lift from the older games given how old and outdated the tech is, so depending on what sort of fighting system, and what sort of mini-games are present in the final thing it could determine just how much quality assurance testing is required and how much overall polish is required for the game from top to bottom.
These sort of delays are to be expected, but I think the lack of transparency when it comes to the progress being made on Shenmue 3 is probably the bigger shocker in this story.