Shenmue 4 will be more common, but what does that mean?

Shenmue is the epitome of a cult classic. It’s one of the most divisive video game franchises in history, with many enjoying its slow-burning narrative and meticulous exploration of the open world, while others can’t stand its leisurely style. Although Shenmue never became the breakout hit Sega envisioned, its creator, Yu Suzuki, wants to make the fourth entry more accessible to the general public.

Although Shenmue fans have a reputation for being incredibly loyal, the series struggles to stay afloat in the fast-paced world of modern games. Shenmue 3 only sold half as many copies as the Shenmue 1 and 2 remaster, causing many people to question the future of the franchise. However, Suzuki plans to completely revamp the series in hopes of taking it in a more modern direction.

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Shenmue 3 felt more like a remaster of a classic game than a contemporary title. Although many long-time fans found its well-known gameplay satisfying, critics thought it was clunky and outdated, as if it were stuck on the sixth generation of consoles.

Suzuki says it made the Shenmue 3 specifically for longtime fans, but plans to move forward with the series with the Shenmue 4. Fast travel and time-skipping options will be included, as well as an updated user interface. He also wants players to have a smoother experience with Shenmue 4, so they can progress faster through the story. Suzuki believes this will appeal to more casual players who might find Shenmue’s previous innings a bit exhausting or slow.

It’s easy to understand why Suzuki wants to push Shenmue into the mainstream, but he has to be careful not to repel the old fans. Much of Shenmue’s charm comes from its unique gameplay and detailed history. If Suzuki completely revamps what Shenmue fans find so appealing, it could potentially push them away from the franchise. Finding the line between the public and the long-time fans is vital if Suzuki wants Shenmue 4 to be successful.

The debate over whether Shenmue is an absolute masterpiece or an overly ambitious failure has divided gamers for more than two decades and shows no signs of slowing down in the short term. With Suzuki planning to push the series in a more conventional direction, Shenmue 4 may be the series’ most divisive game yet.