Ichiban Kasuga’s epic journey finally comes to the West – here’s what you need to know.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon represents a strong new direction for the franchise. After immense critical acclaim in Japan, it’s releasing worldwide on November 10th for PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC while the PS5 version arrives on March 2nd 2021. Let’s take a look at 15 things you need to know before immersing yourself in the biggest and zaniest Yakuza title yet.
Unlike previous Yakuza games, Yakuza: Like a Dragon stars Ichiban Kasuga. Part of the Tojo Clan’s Arakawa Family, Kasuga is asked by patriarch Masumi Arakawa to take the fall for a murder and subsequently spends 18 years in prison. Upon being released, however, no one from the clan seems to remember him. After meeting Arakawa and then being left for dead, Kasuga embarks on a mission to find out what’s going on.
Though Kamurocho and Sotenbori are present, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is set in a completely new location. Players will venture around Isezaki Ijincho, based off of the Isezakichō district in Yokohama. The port city is reportedly three to four times larger than Kamurocho and features a number of different districts to explore. There’s Isezaki Road with numerous shops and restaurant; the Snack District which has, well, snack shops and karaoke; Hamakita Park which plays host to Dragon Kart; and much more. And yes, fast travel by cab is still a thing so don’t worry.
Previous Yakuza characters served as one-man wrecking crews but Kasuga won’t be fighting alone. He’ll meet several different characters, each with their own motives, who will battle alongside him. This includes Yu Nanba, a nurse who’s now homeless; Koichi Adachi, a former detective; and Saeko Mukouda, a former hostess. Other characters will join the party and help augment Kasuga’s fighting potential but you’ll meet various NPCs throughout the world as well.
You’ve probably noticed a distinct lack of beat ’em up combat thus far. That’s because Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a turn-based role-playing game. Kasuga encounters enemies on the street, which then transitions to a battle scene where each character takes turns fighting. While executing certain commands, the Just Action System provides button prompts for additional damage and effects (or to reduce damage taken by blocking). Enemies will also have weaknesses to specific attacks, encouraging you to utilize different elements and Jobs for success. Kasuga and friends can also unleash Kiwami Skills which are similar to Heat Actions from previous games.
What’s especially interesting is how the environment plays a role in battles. You can use nearby objects like bicycles to attack enemies, for example. A stray car may also hit an enemy, though it can also damage your party if you’re not careful with positioning. It’s also possible that attacking a enemy near an party member will cause the latter to follow-up on the attack for more damage.
Partner Attacks and Summons
Along with Heat Actions and abilities, Yakuza: Like a Dragon also sports Partner Attacks with two party members executing a single attack for massive damage. You can also call in Summons by paying some cash and this is where things go off the deep end. Summons include the likes of Gary “Buster” Holmes, Susumu Gondawara and even a crayfish that lays down the hurt. Summons can also be used to heal and provide other support effects – just make sure you have enough money saved to call them in.
Around the start of the game, Kasuga and his party will discover the Romance Workshop, which is used for crafting weapons and equipment, along with reinforcing weapons to make them stronger. Collecting different materials (which have different rarities), either through exploration, battles, activities or vendors, will help in crafting better weapons and equipment. Investing in the Romance Workshop can also allow for crafting weapons that aren’t available anywhere else.
Kasuga’s Life Experience is an important facet of his overall strength. Raising it will increase resistance to status ailments and Kiwami Skill effects while opening up new areas and Jobs. There are six main stats – Kindness, Intelligence, Cheerfulness, Enthusiasm, Mentality and Stylishness, each with their own unique effects. You gain Life Experience by partaking in different activities and mini-games, making certain choices in sub-stories, helping out NPCs, and even going to the Ocean Qualification School to pass exams.
Much like a traditional role-playing game, Yakuza: Like a Dragon has multiple classes called Jobs, each with their own unique abilities and skills. You can become a Breaker and defeat foes with capoeira; a Chef that cooks dishes and batters enemies with frying pans; an Idol that uses singing and fans to attack; and so on. There are 19 Jobs in the base game with two additional Jobs – the Rocker and Matriarch – available as DLC. Jobs can be changed around as players see fit, though every character can’t equip every Job.
Forging friendships is nothing new in a Yakuza title but Yakuza: Like a Dragon‘s Bonds go even further. By spending time with party members, like watching a movie, eating in a restaurant and completing “Bond Drama” sub-stories, your party will become stronger and gain new skills. Of course, the interactions and conversations are also worth it, especially with how great the series’ characterization is.
Sotenbori Battle Arena and dungeons
You’ll come across all manner of challenges throughout the game, including the Sotenbori Battle Arena. It’s a 30 floor building with each floor having unique rules and different assortments of tough enemies. Along with XP, you can obtain standard rewards after each floor and other rewards by completing different objectives. It’s even ideal for obtaining crafting materials, weapons and equipment. Then there are dungeons, which make up the city’s underground network and possess various tough enemies. They also contain Safes and Attache Cases, the former requiring keys and dropping rare items while the latter contains health and EXP boost items. Of course, you’ll also encounter some tough bosses in dungeons so it’s best to go in prepared.
Of course, if you’re itching for a really tough battle then it’s worth investigating different Legendary Yakuza like Goro Majima, Taiga Saejima and Kazuma Kiryu. Each opponent has their own unique abilities, some which can’t be avoided. You’ll even see Kiryu utilize all four of his fighting styles in his battle. The good news is that each Legend can also be called in as Legendary Summons during battle, though it will cost a lot of money to do so.
New Mini-Games and Activities
It wouldn’t be a new Yakuza game without new sub-stories, of which there are 50 in total, and mini-games. Said mini-games include three PachiSlot machines; Traditional Movie Theater, a rhythm game where Kasuga must fight to stay awake during a movie; and Dragon Kart, a Mario Kart-style racer with weapons like rocket launchers and guns. Of course, Karaoke returns along with darts and golfing and you can even grow plants for restoring HP and MP or selling them for cash. There are also Part-Time Job Quests which are smaller quests that involve finding items, fighting enemies or Challenge Quests that contribute to Life Experience.
Given the larger world and wider range of activities, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a hefty experience. The developer confirmed that the story alone would be “more than twice as long” as that of previous titles. A quick look at HowLongToBeat.com puts the story length at about 45 to 46 hours, and that number goes up to about 90 hours if you’re a completionist. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty to do.
Updated requirements for the PC version have become available and they’re thankfully not as heavy as before. Minimum requirements include an Intel Core i5-3470 or AMD FX-8350, 8 GB of RAM and 40 GB of installation space. You’ll also need either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 with 2 GB VRAM or an AMD Radeon HD 7870 with 2 GB VRAM. Recommended specs include an Intel Core i7-6700 or AMD Ryzen 5 1400, 8 GB of RAM and 60 GB installation space. Either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 3 GB VRAM or an AMD Radeon RX 580 with 4 GB VRAM is needed.
No PS4 to PS5 Cross-Save Progression
As noted before, the PS5 version will be releasing in March 2021, several months after every other platform. And while PS4 owners will receive a free upgrade to the PS5 version, which can be downloaded when it goes live, there’s no cross-save progression between the two. If you’re not keen on experiencing all of those battles, sub-stories, dungeons and so on again, then you might want to wait (especially since the game runs in 4K/60 FPS on PS5).