The player will primarily control one main character, a Shadowrunner who takes on dirty jobs for the corporate powers who control the world. The player chooses this character's gender, fantasy race, and basic skillset at character creation. Although no one character can do everything well, Shadowrun Returns uses a classless system, allowing for a great deal of ability customization. Players will have the option to build, for example, a character with shamanistic and hacking skills or one with samurai and magic-using abilities.
Both in and out of combat, Shadowrun Returns includes a number of gameplay elements that aren't commonly seen in RPGs. Players can find and use disguises to trick their foes. Rigger characters can possess drones and use them for surveillance and combat. Decker characters will even have the occasional opportunity to enter the Matrix (whoa) during important hacking missions.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Shadowrun Returns is the editor that comes with the game. The entire campaign was created in this editor, and players can use it to create new content for the game, which can be easily shared using Steam's Workshop service. Using the editor, players can create entirely new areas for the game, add quests, NPCs, and interactive objects, and otherwise do anything the game's original content developers were able to do.
Because of the limits of Kickstarter funding and the complicated nature of the Shadowrun license, the game's development has involved a few controversial decisions. Players will not be able to loot corpses because the programming challenge involved was beyond the project's scope. There are also some limitations on the DRM-free version of the game that was promised to the project's backers. It won't be compatible with future expansions or with player-made content that is developed using assets from those expansions. It appears that non-backers won't have access to a DRM-free version of the game, and will need to purchase it on Steam