After its humble beginnings on PlayStation 2 in 2005 with the first Yakuza game, the franchise has continued to tell the story of Kazuma Kiryu for over a decade. But the franchise will get a fresh start on next-gen consoles with Yakuza: Like A Dragon, replacing tenured protagonist Kiryu with Ichiban Kasuga and drastically altering other Yakuza mainstays.
Here’s everything you need to know about Yakuza: Like A Dragon.
What platforms will Yakuza: Like a Dragon be available on?
Yakuza: Like a Dragon will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. A PlayStation 5 release has yet to be announced, but given that the game is already optimized for next-gen with Xbox Series X, it should be expected.
Smart Delivery will be available, so you can feel safe purchasing it for Xbox One while waiting to buy an Xbox Series X. It’s unknown if any cross-generational service will be available for PlayStation gamers at this time.
When is the Yakuza: Like a Dragon release date?
Yakuza: Like a Dragon was released for PS4 in Japan on January 16, 2020. It should come stateside later this year. There currently isn’t a specific release window for Yakuza: Like A Dragon beyond a vague "2020” window. Yakuza: Like A Dragon has been noted as an Xbox Series X launch title meaning it will launch during the 2020 holiday season at the latest. It will likely launch on other platforms prior to the Xbox Series X launch week.
What’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s story?
In 2001, 18 years prior to the main story, the leader of the Arakawa Family, Masumi Arakawa, informs Ichiban Kasuga that the family needs somebody to take the fall for a murder. Kasuga agrees, believing this sacrifice will cement him as a hero in the family. When he’s released 18 years later, Kasuga finds that nobody remembers him. He goes to visit Arakawa, who shoots him in the chest.
Kasuga awakens amongst heaps of trash with a new goal, to uncover what the heck happened while he was away.
What’s the gameplay like in Yakuza: Like a Dragon?
Unlike the series’ previous titles, which acted as third-person beat-em-ups, Yakuza: Like a Dragon goes in a different direction:turn-based combat. Kasuga and his allies will face the Yakuza turn by turn, similar to the fights found in older Final Fantasy games or Pokémon. There are even summons available, allowing you to receive assistance from living and dead characters that previously appeared in the franchise.
There are still some vestiges of the old system, such as how characters move around the map while in combat. The combat camera acts as it did with the former active battle system was still in play. Nevertheless, Like a Dragon is a whole new Yakuza game.
Do you need to play other Yakuza games first?
Despite being labeled in Japan as Yakuza 7, this is a soft reboot of the Yakuza franchise. The protagonist and gameplay are both different from previous games. You don’t need to play other Yakuza titles to follow the story, but references will be made to previous narratives. The story will feel more rewarding if you’ve played at least one Yakuza title prior to starting Like a Dragon. The suggested starter titles are Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, which are both available on PS4 and Xbox One.
If you’d prefer to go whole hog into the franchise before Like a Dragon is released, there are two comprehensive bundles to experience Kiryu’s full journey; both are available on PlayStation 4. There’s the Yakuza Origins Bundle, containing Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and Kiwami 2, available for $49.99 as of this writing.
To follow that up, there’s the Yakuza Remastered Collection containing Yakuza 3, 4, and 5. All three titles in the remastered collection have been completely overhauled from their original releases with changes including script rewrites, graphical upgrades, and re-adding content that was originally cut from the Western release. You can purchase the Yakuza Remastered Collection for $39.99.
Once you’re done with those two collections, you can hop onto the Kiryu’s final chapter in Yakuza 6, which can be purchased for $20.98 on Amazon as of this writing.
Will Yakuza: Like a Dragon have an English dub?
Maybe? Traditionally, Yakuza games don’t receive English dubs, but reports have shown that might change soon. Judgment, a 2019 Yakuza spin-off, was the first game since the original Yakuza game to include an English dub.
In January, a Resetera user noticed a credit for Yakuza: Like a Dragon on PCP Productions' website, where they claimed to have assisted in Dialog Production/Talent Direction. PCP is the same production company that Sega teamed up with to create Judgement’s English dub. The credit was removed shortly after the Resetera posting. An official announcement has yet to be made, but it seems more likely to happen now than ever before.
Spoilers for Yakuza: Like a Dragon follow.
Is Kiryu in Yakuza: Like a Dragon?
The protagonist of the previous Yakuza titles does make an appearance. He and other characters from the former Yakuza-era appear as summons available to use in battle. Kiryu himself will also occasionally appear in the story mode. His role is more to officially pass the metaphorical protagonist torch unto Kasuga, providing him with insight and cryptic comments like: “You have potential.” Beyond that, he’s little more than a fan-servicey Easter egg to look out for.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon should be released in late 2020.