Sega fans were delighted to hear that the long-awaited Shenmue 3 was in the works, when the project was unveiled at E3 2015. However, there have been some concerns about the fact that the game's graphics look more like the two previous installments, rather than a modern AAA title.
When a teaser trailer for Shenmue 3 was released a few weeks ago, many fans criticized its visuals. Now, the development team working on the game has issued an update on the improvements that are currently being applied to its facial animation system.
Characters' dead eyes and expressionless faces were two of the biggest issues fans had with the prior teaser trailer. Fortunately, it seems that the development team is well aware of those shortcomings, and the reassuring footage release this week demonstrates that Shenmue 3 is very much a work-in-progress.
We see a member of the animation team tinkering with the expression on an old woman's face. While it's difficult to get an impression of how this will actually look during conversation, it certainly demonstrates that characters aren't going to be as blank and vacant as they might have appeared in the teaser trailer.
"When you talk about Shenmue, you gotta mention all the grandmas and grandpas that show up," says the member of the dev team hosting the video. "Her face is scary. I wonder what kind of conversation she'll strike up."
The situation demonstrates one of the many difficulties with a big project like Shenmue 3 — fans want to get regular updates on how development is progressing, but they don't necessarily want to see how the sausage is made. There was something lifeless about the way characters interacted in that teaser trailer, but if the facial animation system wasn't ready at that time, this is pretty unsurprising.
It's been more than fifteen years since Shenmue 2 was released for the Xbox, and anyone that's been waiting for Shenmue 3 for that long is bound to have high expectations. It seems that the team is doing everything in its power to deliver for the fans — but following the delay announced earlier this year, we still have the best part of twelve months to wait before we find out whether the finished product lives up to the hype.
Shenmue 3 will release for PlayStation 4 and PC in late 2018.