Shadowrun Returns First Look

Okay, the wait is over! Here’s what we’ve been up to for the last nine or ten months.

The Harebrained team is pleased to bring you this alpha gameplay walkthrough video for Shadowrun Returns narrated by Jordan and Mitch. While no Bothans died to bring you this information, it’s been a wild ride to get to this point and there’s still plenty to do. But let’s not talk about the future for a moment. Let’s just take 20 minutes or so to relax and see the game in action.

Since our story is about secrets and lies, we decided that our video should walk you through a side-mission so you can get a clear sense of how the game is played without revealing any spoilers. In this mission, you’ve accepted a job from a reliable Fixer (who’s totally fronting for Aztechnology) to locate a rival corporate test lab and terminate the test (with extreme prejudice).

Remember as you watch the video that all the environments, conversations, and tactical situations you see were created using the Shadowrun Returns Editor – the same editor that will ship with the game on OSX and Windows. For us, re-energizing Shadowrun doesn’t just mean making a game for you to play and enjoy (although that sounds GREAT). It means creating a set of tools for YOU to experiment with, express yourself with, and share.

We imagine that you’ll have plenty of questions and comments about what you see and we encourage you to go to and join the community here . We’re on regularly, answering questions and clarifying stuff. It’s a friendly place. Try it!

And one more thing – If you like what you see, please share the video and screenshots and ask your friends to share them too!



For those interested in additional details, here are some specific notes on the video. Hopefully, they’ll provide more insight and answer some of your questions in advance.

00:20 – Lady Z prefers to dress-for-effect (dig that gas-mask – so punk) but there will be a variety of outfits for you to choose from so you can make your character look the way you want. We plan to release more outfits after the game launches.

00:39 – For those of you who know Seattle, this is Pike Place Public Market in 2054. The neighborhood may have taken a downturn.

03:30 – options: Burst Fire, Full Auto etc. We also have character combat abilities like Aim. We also use the tabletop “stages” of damage with from Weak (1/2) to Crit (x2). All of this is based on the math from the SR tabletop game. You can see your chance to hit with every character but you need to invest Karma in weapon specializations to see your chance to crit with each weapon type. As your weapon specialization skill increases, so does your chance to crit.

05:00 – Note that Lady Z’s corp security etiquette skill is missing from her character sheet. The screen underwent a recent revision and it was left off of this version temporarily. Also, Scooter the Rigger’s drone skills are currently higher than his Intelligence and the Shaman’s spirit control and conjuring skills are higher than his Charisma. Not to worry. These bugs are already addressed.

06:00 – Obviously, Lady Z could just whip out an Ares Predator and drill this guard but guns make a lot of noise and Jordan doesn’t want to attract too much attention – our AI NPCs will react to gunfire and investigate. So instead, he whips out Lady Z’s katana for a (relatively) silent kill. One other note – you’ll see that the guard asks Lady Z for her SIN. Just want to make it clear that there’s no “SIN system” in the game and runners are SINless. But fake credentials are very useful in getting past guards, etc.

06:10 – You’ll notice the rigger is automatically being followed by his drone. If you check the rigger UI at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see that you can set the drone to remain stationary. That’s handy if you want to leave the drone behind to provide line-of-sight on a location after you leave (so there are no surprises when you get back).

08:08 – Inside the shaman’s backpack are magical fetishes that he uses for summoning elementals: air, fire, water, and earth. Fetishes are consumable to keep the shaman from being overpowered. They can be replenished by purchasing more at the local talismonger.

08:22 – Every turn, summoned spirits have a chance to break free and that chance increases every time you commit APs for them to use. However, increasing your Spirit Control skill reduces the risk. It’s a good investment because when a spirit breaks free, they’ll attack anybody.

09:37 – Yup, the AI loves it when you clump up your characters. If they have an equipped grenade or area-of-effect spell, this will happen to you too.

10:14 – Some spells have cool-down times associated with them and you SHOULD wait for that time to expire before using the spell again. However, you CAN use the spell again but you’ll take Drain HP damage from pushing yourself.

15:18 – Ley lines are the intersections of magical energy flowing through the world. Only Mages can see them. When they stand on a ley line, Mages cast spells far more easily and with greater effect: cool down times are reduced, and chances to hit are increased, as is damage.

16:17 – Shaman don’t always need to expend fetishes for summoning spirits. Intense concentrations of emotions or natural elements can be used as gateways for summoning as well. Only shaman can see them. Once a concentration has been used as a gateway, it can’t be used again (until the shaman raises his summoning skill high enough), so best to keep a magical fetish in your pocket.

17:27 – The AI re-evaluates their threat list every turn. The basilisk decided that the abomination spirit is the biggest threat in the room.

44 Responses to “Shadowrun Returns First Look”

  1. Asheram
    March 8, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    This… Yes. This is good…

    This is friggin’ awesome! Can’t wait to see more of what you can do and how the editor will work.

  2. Terikan
    March 8, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Will this mimick spell drain like shadowrun? As in, the drain from physical area effect spells is so bad that no one would ever actually use them? Because that was always my experience on the tabletop game, where anything but stunbolt was just not smart or ended up being very weak to keep drain low.

    Hoping you maybe balanced it a little better than they did (at least in 3rd).

  3. Andi
    March 8, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Lady Z is wearing many weapons… Will there be negative effects e.g. lower colcealment rating or does it not matter?

  4. Tzelanit
    March 8, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Noticed that Essence was listed at 6 for cybered characters. That was just an oversight, right?

  5. Justin
    March 8, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the physical adept in action, but everything looks great! The only issue was that small AI malfunction with the wagemage running towards the runners and healing.

  6. Dunkare
    March 8, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    looking great so far! but i hope there will be some more blood and gore and bodies wont disappear in the final version 😉

  7. Robin
    March 8, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    Hey, Everyone – The best way to get your gameplay questions answered is to go to the forums. Mitch checks in regularly to answer questions himself over there.

    Here’s the direct link to the Shadowrun Returns forums.

    Thanks for all the great feedback!

  8. Blackstaff
    March 8, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    Awesome… AWESOME !

  9. Caimbul
    March 8, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Soo.. Happy.. Soo.. Very.. Happy.. It’s been so long for an awesome Shadowrun game.. And with the editor I’ll never be without again.. SO VERY HAPPY!

  10. cwli
    March 8, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Wow….. this looks good and the possible tactical elements sound sweet! I am glad I am a backer. Keep on the good work!

  11. Bane
    March 8, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Wow! This so far seems to be what I was hoping this game would be. Excellent!

  12. Letosh
    March 8, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Thanks for the memories! I ve been waiting for this game for 20 years! Finally! :)

  13. Shane
    March 8, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    This looks so very cool. I just hope the editor is easy for us no programming types to use. And has enough built in stuff so it does not take months to set something up for people with very busy lives

  14. McDougle
    March 8, 2013 at 11:19 am #


    Oh oh oh! This is so beautiful!

    I have to point out 3 things(because everything else is simply PERFECT!), which I hope will improve till the release(again, everything else is already perfect in my eyes! :O )
    – the animations: there seems to be no “relaxed” stance and thus all characters looked on edge
    – “civilian” character models -> every character in that street somehow looked like a runner
    – the fx did look a little “small”; especially for the ghosts attacks and the fireball I was hoping for a bit more of BOOM 😛

    Damn guys, this is outstanding. :)
    I automatically drew comparisons to WL2´s first look… they have a bigger budget… but our art(except those tusks 😛 ) & UI is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more beautiful. :)

  15. Jake Armitage
    March 8, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Hoi chummers, this video is awesome! Congrats HBS Dev team! This game will live on forever with that mission editor.

  16. Inso
    March 8, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    My only critic is that the sounds are very.. thin. Also, a “klicking” for a flying drone, high tones for a shotgun.. for me they mostly don´t fit what I see. Hope they will be re-done, or there´s an option to change the sounds yourself by exchanging files, or change sounds through the editor.
    Rest of the video looks awesome, can´t wait to play it myself :))

  17. Wizard1200
    March 8, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    The game looks very good and thankfully not as cartoonish as i thought.

    Skills like Intimidate or Deception should be used in conversations and not attributes like Strength or Charisma.

    The maximum critical damage should be x 1.5 to make the combat less luck based.

  18. Chad
    March 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Definitely upgrading my backer status. This looks great, and is better looking than I had hoped! Great work guys, keep it up :)

  19. Cùran
    March 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Nice to see this all coming together. I’m really happy I backed this.

    Remember as you watch the video that all the environments, conversations, and tactical situations you see were created using the Shadowrun Returns Editor – the same editor that will ship with the game on OSX and Windows.

    Wait a second: does this mean the editor won’t be available for Linux? Really?

  20. Peter
    March 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Any chance we can use the original SR logo and not this new one which looks stupid, i.e. looks like the old one got mixed with some anime fanboi and steroids.

    The other fit the dark western feel (i.e. native american uprisings, shamans, etc) whereas the new one just yells Korea or or Eastern Bloc to me.

  21. Peter
    March 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    One other quick comment (yes I know this is still alpha) is would like to see:

    1: More reactive AI (the tend to be very point-to-point attack and lacking tactics from the video; they also don’t seem to have thinks like throat mic’s etc, i.e. why aren’t guys in other part of the building/rooms reacting once non-stealth kills / gunfire / explosions start to happen). How about overwatch/reaction moves/action/sequence also (maybe it has and I missed it); especially for the AI

    2: More *movement*/*flow* (not sure the word here) for models. For example people just seem to stand still and (outside turn based tactical combat) just wait for you to come kill/talk to them. In real life people pace back and forth, randomly move around in a small area (watercooler, etc). For example the ganger and the homeless guy just stand there waiting for you to come up whereas in real life there would probably be some fluid movement or hell, if not adversarial, they might be talking while walking, etc.

    Regardless like what I’m seeing and these last two updates and set my mind much more at ease than the earlier stuff.

  22. dave
    March 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    Perfect, I’ve been waiting years for something exactly like this. Couldn’t be happier:)

  23. Huscurian
    March 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    That’s some great Alpha footage! And I’m glad the Alliance has spared no Bothans to obtain this confidential information to stop the cogs of the Galactic Empire. Otherwise, we’d have tax hikes, skyrocketing government spending, limited workhours dedicated to fighting for the Alliance… Oh wait, sorry, wrong universe we’re in.

    I like the way the game is going. I’ve noticed the small details that Harebrained Schemes have put into it: character movements, dialogues, the way other characters speak and react while the player drifts across the asphalt seeking new avenues to explore. Plus combat looks great and nifty with easy-to-read indicators such as Weak, Critical, etc., when regarding damage.

    This is definitely one to keep because this reminds me of the nostalgic days when Fallout 1 and 2 reigned supreme over my gaming hours.

  24. William Barnes
    March 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Everything looks like it’s coming along great! I can’t wait to get my hands on this and dive into that editor. I’m hoping it will be relatively easy to use my existing knowledge to add custom assets and expand the game itself into some more tabletop territory.

    I’m waiting with baited breath…

  25. Not of this World
    March 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    My daughter (7) watched this with me and now wants to be a Shadowrunner. Look at what you have done!

  26. Robin
    March 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Of course, she does – Shadowrunners are cool!

  27. Ryan
    March 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    This looks fabulous! Good work – can’t wait for the release!

  28. Colombo
    March 9, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    I must say, that looks great. I am bit worried of flootness of action. All those animations take too long to be completed and player have to wait. This may be great for the first time, when player didn’t see those animations, but then…

    It is common fault of turn-based games, the turns take so mutch time!

  29. McDougle
    March 9, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    We will need some able Deckers to get custom assets in, because that won’t be officially supported, but you can definitely create your own NPCs, dialogue & everything else with existing assets.

  30. Hank
    March 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    This looks way better than anything I thought possible with such a tight budget. I haven’t been following the discussions in the forums so I was a little surprised to see hitpoints. I guess it’s easier for you to balance and the snes version also had hitpoints. Back then I prefered the more faithful implementation of the ruleset in the genesis version.

  31. March 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    It is truly a nice and helpful piece of information.
    I’m happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Gun-shop owner
    March 10, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    Tee, hee yo har, let’s set our hair on fire !!!

  33. Quizmaster
    March 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    I used to be sceptical, but now I get excited…

  34. Matt
    March 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Love how this looks and plays! Cant wait for this game to come out really appreciate all the hard work being put in.

  35. Draamal
    March 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Love it! Can’t wait to play it! (What’s with the bullet graphic? Fixing that, right?)

  36. Ginsu23
    March 14, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Will the editor program allow you to edit the starting stats and skills of the archetypes? I really don’t like the archetype idea. A troll decker is just dumb, and there should be a straight up point-buy character creation system for players who want to make a character from scratch.

  37. Robin
    March 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Hi, Ginsu23 – No, the character creation system is not part of the editor process. The editor only creates the stories and the player brings their PC to that story.

    The archetypes do not dictate race or gender selection. A player can make a Decker (or Mage or Rigger, etc.) of ANY race and gender.
    We’re not currently planning to implement a point-buy creation system, although it’s certainly a topic that’s been hotly debated.
    If you have more questions, you should head over to the Shadowrun Returns forums. Lots of answers over there and tons of Shadowrun enthusiasts. The SR Forum is here:

  38. Draamal
    March 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Oh hey, and how about a slider to control how many hints we see? Some people might want to discover such things like the drone fitting through a vent on their own.

  39. Michael Harvill
    March 14, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    YES! This looks very nice. I’ll be buying it for sure.

  40. Godlikan
    March 15, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Keep up the good work people, looking forward to game, and I must say FINALLY some good tactical game. 😀

  41. Darcy
    March 19, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    This reminds me of Xcom (which i love). I am one of the few people i know who love turn based fighting. And i love SR.. So really looking forward to that.

  42. Voqar
    March 22, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Really liking how this is shaping up and would preorder but I don’t want anything to do with Steam anymore (customer service issues). I hope this game is published in some other way or at least with some other option.

    Since you say you’re are going DRM free that would sort of exclude Steam anyways since Steam *IS* DRM. So, holding off on pre-order til you announce distribution and I guess paying the full $20 at release wouldn’t be so bad unless that extra $5 is going to Valve.

  43. Farnball
    March 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    I couldn’t be more happy when I saw your work. Keep up the good fight to make us RPG geeks proud guys!