Sega shared some new screenshots of the upcoming Yakuza 7 — known in the West as Yakuza: Like a Dragon — with Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu this week. These images suggest there’s more to the series’ genre-swapping plans than just a turn-based combat system. In addition to protagonist Ichiban Kasuga’s obsession with the Dragon Quest games, it seems RGG Studios has also taken a cue from the Persona series, adding a gameplay element known as Life Experience.
Kasuga will have six traits that can be improved by completing various activities, sub-stories, and mini-games throughout Like a Dragon. These traits include Enthusiasm, Mentality, Cheerfulness, Kindness, Intelligence, and Stylishness. This premise should be pretty familiar to anyone’s who’s played Persona 5, which tasks players with boosting five quite similar social stats — Knowledge, Guts, Proficiency, Kindness, and Charm. In Persona 5, these traits had a direct impact on the social-sim side of the game but had little impact on combat or dungeon crawling.
Sega and Atlus have been part of the same company (Sega Sammy Holdings) since 2013, and it’s frankly a little odd it’s taken this long for them to start riffing on each other. It looks like there’s more ranks for each category in the Yakuza 7 take on this system, but at a glance it all appears to be pretty darn similar.
It’s a wheedly, intricate mechanic to include in what’s historically been such a fisticuffs-focused series, and it shows that RGG Studios isn’t pussyfooting around when it comes to making this a real-deal RPG. In past Yakuza games, exploring all the nooks and crannies of a dense urban setting has mostly just been goofy fun for its own sake. Now, with Yakuza 7, there’s a more urgent reason for players to deviate from the main storyline and interact with everyone in town.
Here’s a brief rundown of each of those six traits, courtesy of Gematsu.
- Enthusiasm – The source of “willingness” and “romance.” Develops through enthusiastic conduct and doing things with utmost effort.
- Mentality – The source of “mental strength” and “concentration.” Develops through situations that test your courage and emotional strength.
- Cheerfulness – The source of “sociability” and “brightness.” Develops through actions that lighten the mood.
- Kindness – The source of “broad-mindedness” and “empathy.” Develops through kind interaction with people, animals, and nature.
- Intelligence – The source of “education” and “memory.” Develops through logical suggestion and studying.
- Stylishness – The source of “charm” and “character.” Develops through clever exchange and dignified behavior.
It’s likely that leveling up these traits in Yakuza 7 will open up new dialogue choices, allowing you to deepen your relationships or instigate more challenging battles. We also suspect that certain sub-missions and interactions won’t be available to Kasuga until one or more of these traits hit a certain level. Gematsu’s translation also suggests that you’ll perform better in minigames, like golf and go-karting, by boosting your Life Experience.
Fans of the series haven’t quite been sure how to react to all the big changes in store for Yakuza 7 — when Sega released the first screenshots showing turn-based combat, observers wrote it off as an April Fool’s joke. But Yakuza has always prioritized the exploration and narrative elements at the core of the role-playing genre. Yakuza meets Persona? Count us in.
Yakuza 7 comes to PS4 in Japan on January 16. A Western release of Like a Dragon is slated for sometime in 2020.