Shenmue 3's dated facial animations are not final, company was "unable to ready them in time" for Gamescom
The models are only temporary.
After an extended period of predominant silence, Shenmue 3 finally rose from its development to give fans an updated look at how the game is coming along just in time for Gamescom 2017. The reaction has been mixed at best with the YouTube video's comments section being flooded with references to BioWare and the early 2000's. While the game's environments are pretty sound, the facial animated do come off as stiff and dated and look a little too close to what the series was back when it got its start on the SEGA Dreamcast.
In an interview with Game Spark (translated by Gematsu), game director Yu Suzuki explains that the character models in the trailer are temporary placeholders. “Shenhua, Ryo, and the other characters are mostly temporary,” Suzuki said. He also stated that facial animations were previously implemented, but were "temporarily removed" for the trailer.
According to Executive Producer, Hideaki Morishita, the team was “unable to ready [the animations] in time for this trailer,” citing the recent publishing deal with Deep Silver has moved development on the project into "a new form."
Shenmue 3 is expected to launch on PS4 and PC sometime in the second half of 2018.