Shenmue 3, A Peasants Dream - 4K
Rumours have been circulating round the gaming journalist sphere that Shenmue III has been demo-ed in a glorious 4K resolution! Since E3 just gone, folk have had the blessing of playing Yu Suzuki’s third instalment to his infamous title. The game has been on show at E3, GamesCon and Tokyo's Game Show. Journalists from all around the world have said that the game looks far better than the video trailers give it justice but none of them can give a concrete answer on the graphical specs the game is running at? I would like to address some of the issues and criteria Shenmue III needs to run on the base and PS4 Pro.
Let's take the sales of the PlayStation 4 into account first. A report came out in July 2019 that the PS4 has sold more than 100 million units worldwide. Head of PlayStation’s global sales and marketing, Jim Ryan said the company's premium-priced console (PS4 Pro) accounted for one out of every five PlayStation 4 systems sold*2017.
If we take into account the sales of the Pro we can give a rough estimate that there are about 80 million base units versus 20 million pro units in households around the world. We will come back to these statistics later.
Unlike the XBOX One X, the PS4 Pro isn’t actually a native 4K rendering machine, we have to discuss the requirements of the PC version of the game first for a greater understanding.
To understand what we might expect from the PS4 version we need to look at both the minimum and the recommended system requirements for the PC version.
OS: Windows 7 64-bit or Newer
Processor: Intel Core i5-4460 (3.4GHz) Quad-core or Better
Graphics: Nvidia Geforce 650 Ti 2GB or better
API: DirectX 11
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c Compatible
OS: Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i7-7700 (3.6GHz) Quad-core or Better
Graphics: Nvidia Geforce 1070 or better
API: DirectX 11
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c Compatible
Fans everywhere were amazed to see the games file size of 100gb on both minimum and recommended configurations of the game, considering that new triple A titles don’t even reach this threshold. One of the issues we see with the minimum requirements is that if you only need a GPU with 2gb of video ram, then it means that none of the texture caching including higher res textures used for 4K, shaders, etc., exceed 2gb worth of video memory storage. This might have consequences to the implantation of a PS4 Pro Enhanced version of the game.
When it comes to the 100gb worth of storage on both the minimum and recommended requirements we can come to the conclusion that this 100gb isn’t for holding higher resolution textures (4K) as it’s the same size for the minimum graphical settings.
With these specs in mind we can say that the use of the 100gb of hard drive space is not for 4K visual imagery, instead this hard drive space could be used for lengthy uncompressed video files.
It’s no new news that Shenmue is a very cinematic experience. The team at YsNet could be using this massive hard drive requirement for video files higher than 1080p. This could also be due to Unreal Engine 4, the team have had only 4 years of experience with the software. YsNet could be using raw video files instead of in-engine cinematics. If that’s the case, that is the reason for the 100gb of space.
Unreal Engine 4 PS4 Games
With the PC information out of the way, we can concentrate on how all this could be implemented into the PS4 base and Pro system.
First off, I hate to do it but, I would like to burst your FPS bubble. Many of you would love to see Shenmue III at 60 frames a second. Unfortunately, from what Yu Suzuki has said in the past and from my calculations this will not happen. Suzuki is on record saying that he thinks hitting 60fps would be too tough to do well. So, it sounds like he is aiming for a constant 30fps on both the base PS4 and the PS4 Pro.
I know some of you will not be happy with this but I would like you to hear me out, I am going to use Days Gone as an example.
Days Gone is a Unreal Engine 4 game, also a PS4 exclusive. Early renders of the game at previous E3’s showed artefact tearing and the game not running well even at 30fps.
Unreal Engine 4 is a tricky system to program for the PS4’s hardware. Bend Studios eventually got a steady, near consistent 33.3 millisecond framerate after suffering persistently bad frame pacing in its early stages. Also, we need to take into account that Days Gone was under development for 7 years before its released.
Shenmue III & 60 frames a second..?, I think it was too much to ask for this time round. After all, it is a cinematic story driven game. It is not essential for it to be played at 60fps.
PS4 & PS4 Pro
Both the PS4 Base system and the Pro are very similar machines with nearly the only difference being the times two GPU. The main issue with regard to Shenmue here is the ram. Both systems share the same 8gb GDR5 ram memory.
More than likely the same textures will be assigned to both the base level Shenmue 3 game to the highest level.
My view is that Yu Suzuki will have the game optimised for the base system, he will also have it optimised for 1080p @30fps. The issues with the PS4 arises from the 8gb of ram, YsNet can either optimise the graphical assets fully for 1080p with full use of the bandwidth within the 8gb of ram, or hold out some of these assets for a higher texture that can be implemented for the Pro system, meaning less assets for the base system.
Remember what we said about the sales differences between the Base and the Pro? With only 1 in 5 Pros sold, it makes sense to optimise the game for the base users. So, what can we expect to see with the PS4 Pro experience?
PS4 Pro Expectations
With the challenges that YsNet is/has been facing, I think it is fair to say that Shenmue III, will be capped to 30fps on both the PS4 base and the Pro system. The base system will push to the 1080p mark, with the Pro system pushing a possible 1600p. Keep in mind that this is just a guesstimate.
The base could only run at about 900p, like most Xbox One games and who knows but Suzuki-San on how the Pro version will be handled.
I think we can rule out a performance setting for either machines, so that would only leave a Normal & Detailed setting. Now that we can remove the performance setting there is really no need for much to be in the Display settings for the game but Brightness. This leaves the game alone to understand which machine it is being played on.
Hence, nothing but a brightness setting in the display settings. The base system will run Shenmue III up to 1080p & the pro system will run up to 1400-1600p.
I rule out 2160p, checker-boarder because of Yu Suzuki concentration on fulfilling a near full 1080p 30fps experience for all PlayStation users.
Shenmue III promises to deliver a full Shenmue experience for gamers, PC or PS4 alike. We can expect more detail and more functionality from the PC version, but not that much more. Yu Suzuki has this game pinned to be the same experience on either platform.
We can expect the base PS4 game to be near 1080p in resolution with the Pro version possibly using the same assets to reach the heights of 1600p both running @30fps.