Shadow Warrior 3 Interview: Finishing Moves, Gore Tools, DLC, Game Length & More

Shadow Warrior 3 is a culmination of creative ideas dating back to the 2013 Shadow Warrior reboot which needed time and planning to realize.

Speaking with SegmentNext in a recent interview, developer Flying Wild Hog confirmed that “some attempts” were made to introduce finishing moves to the first Shadow Warrior game. However, the feature proved to be too complicated and time-consuming. The developer was also not in favor of just adding “a fancy animation” for players to trigger. It was why Flying Wild Hog came up with the idea of “Gore Tools” to “spice things up” in Shadow Warrior 3.

Furthermore, post-release content plans were “certainly considered” during development, but are not a focus at present. There are no plans for any Shadow Warrior 3 DLC right now, the developer confirmed, but fans can keep their fingers crossed for some special announcements down the road.

Shadow Warrior 3 has racked up stellar scores from numerous critics as it readies for its release on all supported platforms later today.

SN: Following the last two games, did it become more difficult or easy to keep nailing the trademark humor and crazy violence for Shadow Warrior 3?

FWH: All the crazy, over-the-top violence is what the franchise is known for, you know…those ideas come naturally during the development, so what’s difficult is rather how to fit them all within our pipeline. As is typical for game development, we usually have more ideas for refining the Shadow Warrior experience than we do time to implement them all.

SN: Can you take us through the process of how each level was hand-made in the game? What were the main priorities around which a level was drawn up? Was it the new traversal mechanics, environmental kills for example?

FWH: We were a gameplay-driven game from the beginning. The most important thing for us was for the player to have fun. We had some keywords that we had to stick to, like ‘monumentality’. On each map, there were places that the player would remember and associate with that map. From the very beginning, we worked in strike teams, which included someone from Level Design, someone from Level Art, someone from 3D, and we also had support from the story team and concept art.

So from the very beginning, the map was created ‘in parallel’ in each department. This helped distribute the work – some people were looking for references, and the rest could work in the engine and come up with interesting gameplay for the player. This allowed us to deliver a playable version of the level in a fairly short time, which already included art, story, and gameplay. This gave us time for more iterations of the map to deliver the best gameplay possible.

Because the player gets all the tools to travel (grappling, wall run) pretty quickly, we were able to build maps without limits which also allowed us to keep consistency between maps. The environmental kills were a fun gameplay ingredient that added a cool element to make arenas more interactive. Overall the arenas were one of the focal points for our gameplay since shooting is probably the most important core element of our game. And arenas are built entirely around the idea of providing a clean, fun-to-navigate environment that supports all the movement mechanics and combines those with combat.

SN: You previously said that Shadow Warrior 3 “focuses more on density rather than longevity” about the game length. Can you say more on that?

FWH: The main goal for us was to provide the most action-packed and visually stunning linear campaign our studio has ever done, however better quality meant that we needed to be extra careful with how much content we’re making, and to consider if everything we’re doing has a meaningful impact on the whole experience.

So to put it simple, there’s less wandering around in order to add a “few extra minutes” to the game’s playtime and more action, no matter if you’re in the heat of intense battle or in the middle of traversal sections (which we also wanted to be more action-oriented by using benefits of Lo Wangs more versatile movement options than in previous games).

SN: Why did it take this long to add finishing moves to Shadow Warrior?

FWH: Finishing moves in general are a very complex and thus time-consuming feature, especially in the first-person view where you see everything up close. On top of that, we didn’t want to have finishers that had the sole purpose of being a fancy animation you can trigger on the enemy. That’s why very early in the development we’ve come up with this idea of obtaining enemies’ weapons or abilities through finishing moves in order to spice things up, but this made the whole feature even more complex – we needed to figure out the particular enemy visual design, then what weapon/ability that enemy is using, how the player will be able to use it after acquiring it, and finally what the animation should look like.

So, there are a lot of factors that affect one another, and even though years back we did make some attempts to introduce finishing moves to the first Shadow Warrior, it wasn’t until the third game that we felt we were truly ready for that. Finishers now serve as the cherry on top of our combat.

SN: Each enemy has been designed to offer a unique weapon or ability after being executed. Just how many weapons/abilities that come out to be in the game?

FWH: We’re calling it “Gore Tools” and there are 10 of them in total. Some come in a form of powerful melee or ranged weapons, while others work more as crowd control tools that support you as you continue dealing damage using weapons from your own arsenal.

SN: Shadow Warrior has clearly been evolving with each installment. Has Shadow Warrior 3 inspired you with an idea or feature which you might want to explore in the future?

FWH: Yes, but let’s not spoil a surprise and keep it a secret for now. 🙂

SN: Any Bounty Hunt-like free DLC plans in the making for Shadow Warrior 3?

FWH: Our goal is for Shadow Warrior 3 to be a standalone adventure that acts as both a welcome return and a bookend on this chapter of Lo Wang, Hoji and the rest of the gang. We’ve certainly considered adding extra DLC throughout development, but our focus has always been on making the most enjoyable campaign we can, so while we won’t discount it entirely, we don’t currently have anything planned.

SN: Have you tried Shadow Warrior 3 on Steam Deck? What would you say on playing the game on that handheld?

FWH: No. As of now, we haven’t done any research on this platform; it’s not our main focus at the moment.

SN: Shadow Warrior is coming to PlayStation Now Day One. Any plans to bring it to game pass? If not, any specific reason for that?

FWH: We were super happy to be offered the opportunity to launch the game on PS Now and hope that it helps many more PlayStation owners jump into the adventure with us! The more opportunities we’re able to take to spread some Lo Wang love, the better!

SN: Shadow Warrior 3 is going to release among the other big releases like Elden Ring, GT 7 and Babylon’s fall. Any pressure that SW3 response might get affected by those releases?

FWH: Yeah, the release calendar is in fact full of great games, but luckily for us, there is no “direct” competitor for Shadow Warrior, judging solely by the genre. We’re keeping our fingers crossed so that fans of Shadow Warrior and fans of single-player first-person shooters in general, won’t be too distracted and are hungry for another crazy adventure of Lo Wang.

has halted regime changes, curbed demonic invasions, and averted at least one cosmic omnicide; all from the confines of his gaming chair.