Head to head comparison between the PS4 and PS4 Pro versions of Yakuza 6.
The Dragon of Dojima is back with a massive bang in Yakuza 6. Featuring a brand-new graphics engine titled the Dragon Engine, the newest entry in the Japanese crime drama is a revolutionary installment, at least from the technical perspective. Ever since Yakuza 5, Sega have been trying to make their Yakuza engine more modern and this was evident in Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami. However, Yakuza 6 marks a major shift for the series. You see, previous games like Yakuza 0 and Kiwami were actually cross generation, releasing both on the PS3 and PS4 in Japan. However, Yakuza 6 is only available on the PS4 and as such the Dragon Engine has been designed according to the PS4’s architecture.
As soon as you boot up the game, the very first thing you will notice how clean the image looks on the PS4 Pro. There has been a drastic change in the way lighting impacts the various objects, NPCs and structure and it’s all due to the physical based rendering pipeline. Crowd rendering was one of the strengths of the Yakuza series and it’s great to see that tech improve in Yakuza 6, thanks to the extra processing power provided by the PS4. The Yakuza series was no stranger to intricate details but in Yakuza 6, they look so much better, especially during the night as Kiryu strolls down the streets of Kamurocho. Screen space reflections are used along with fantastic implementation of motion blur and bloom in several places.
Kiryu, along with rest of the cast looks eerily close to the real thing, using a full set of skin shaders and somewhat decent animations. Everything in Kamurocho seems to have been given a fresh paint, right from the surrounding structures, character models and the various shops. The game has no loading times whatsoever when Kiryu enters or exits a shop, adding more to gamer immersion. The fighting animations look extremely fluid making Kiryu look fitter and more agile than even his Yakuza 0 days! Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be boundary or limited area for the random fights. The whole map can now be used as a fighting ground with thugs chasing you! And let’s not even forget about the physics…it’s broken but for some reason it looks humorous right in line with the series’ theme!
Ever mission is now fully voice acted and NPCs show various kinds of emotions, although the side missions do carry the series’ tradition of paused faces which is kind of disappointing. Also, many areas of Kamurocho are inaccessible which is a bit baffling to say the least.
On the technical front we have the PS4 version possibly running at a dynamic resolution, scaling from full 1080p presentation to 900p. On the PS4 Pro, Yakuza 6 seems to support 4K scaling. Unfortunately, both versions run at 30 frames per second with some drops, which come to think of it is a bit weird given both Yakuza 0 and Kiwami ran at 60 frames per second. But the increase in visual fidelity somewhat balances out that drop in frame rate. Hopefully in future instalments, Sega can get the games up and running at 60fps but it does seem to be the case as Yakuza Kiwami 2 reportedly runs at 30 fps too and that is utilizing the Dragon engine as well.
The game uses hardware aliasing and really it doesn’t look good. The aliasing issues have been a problem since the early days of Yakuza and it makes a comeback in Yakuza 6. Distance objects are mostly affected by this and it’s even worse on the base PS4. This issue should have been resolved by now but unfortunately, it’s present and the presentations takes a hit due to that. So, as expected the PS4 Pro version comes out top with better shadow quality and ambient occlusion, along with better image quality.
Yakuza 6 marked a transition period for Sega. Given that the game came out in late 2016 and the team has already finished another project recently with Dragon Engine which was Yakuza Kiwami 2, it’s safe to assume that things will improve in the future.
Regardless of its shortcomings, Kiryu’s final game is a fantastic visual effort by Sega. They have made a ton of improvements and we can’t wait to see how they will take Dragon Engine ahead with Yakuza Kiwami 2 and project codenamed Shin: Yakuza. And yes, let’s not forget about the recently teased if not confirmed Yakuza 0-2. What a time to be a Yakuza fan, isn’t it?