After nearly two decades following Shenmue II‘s 2001 release, the series focusing on the adventures of a young martial artist seeking revenge finally saw its return to action with Shenmue III. While the game has an assortment of tasks to distract yourself with, the developers have plans for a new DLC to add in even more to do.
As the first post-launch update for the Shenmue series, the upcoming Battle Rally DLC will add in a new event for Ryo and his friends to take part in. Releasing on January 21 for $8 (players who own the collector’s edition will get it as a free-update) the event is a competitive combat race, which puts places the protagonist in ancient relay race where he’ll have to maintain a steady pace against his opponents. Along the way, he’ll face off against foes in hand-to-hand combat to progress to the next part of the race.
While Ryo spends much of the game on his own, tracking down clues and engaging in interesting side-activities, he won’t go it alone in this new event. Joining him is Wei Zhen, a new character introduced in Shenmue III, and Wuying Ren, a returning character from the original sequel. For the first time in the series, you’ll be able to play as other characters aside from Ryo. As it’s a relay race, you’ll eventually need to switch off between different partners. When you shift over to Ren or Wei Zhen, you’ll be able to utilize their unique skills in combat, setting them apart from Ryo’s familiar style.
It certainly sounds like an interesting update for the game, which helps to flesh out the village’s history. Something is fascinating about getting to revisit a game that seems quite symbolic of a particular era of gaming, which sought to grow a bit further while being confined to specific design philosophies. With a new round of updates coming, it’ll be interesting to see how Shenmue III continues to evolve from here.
In GameSpot’s full review, writer Heidi Kemps spoke about the game’s struggles to maintain the essence of the original within a more modern gaming landscape. “Shenmue III has its moments. It delivers on the promise of creating interesting and engaging new environments for Ryo and friends to explore and play around in. Yet, I can’t help but think that the game’s dogged determination to retain the same “feel” of its Dreamcast ancestors at any cost hurts it immensely.”
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