Which part should you play first and what to expect from the series • JPGAMES.DE

Not only is the entire Yakuza series included in Xbox Game Pass, it will soon be available on PlayStation Plus. Yakuza: Like a Dragon begins the biggest known Yakuza on PlayStation today. Like Dragon will be available to all Basic subscribers. The rest of the Kiryu era games are gradually coming to PlayStation Plus, some of which are reserved for Plus and Premium subscribers.

Either way, the availability of subscription services will make Yakuza accessible to a larger base of players. The “try it” hitch is low and that’s a good thing. Because the yakuza is good. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is already available on Xbox Game Pass and launches today on PlayStation Plus.

Ironically, it’s the latest installment in the Yakuza series, so at first glance it didn’t look like it would be a great entry point, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Yakuza: Like a dragon has to be dealt with separately, it is the first part of the series with a new hero and completely different gameplay elements.

So you can easily start with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, but for the Kazuma-Kiryu era (Yakuza Zero to Yakuza 6) there is a certain order that makes sense. Fortunately, it is not complicated. Below we explain what you can expect with Yakuza, how it works and more.

What is a yakuza?

The Yakuza series is often credited to the legacy of Shenmue Games who pioneered Sega’s open world games under Yu Suzuki. The Yakuza refined this basic formula, but the keyword “open world” here does not mean a huge world as in modern open world games.

In games, you will always explore one or more cities that are not particularly huge. They recreate real locations in Japan in great detail and filled with all kinds of activities, from side stories to mini-games to street fights.

The stories are always linear, cinematic, dramatic, and largely inspired by yakuza films, in other words: themes such as honor, betrayal, love, brotherhood, police, and organized crime play a role. They do not shy away from violence nor sexual arousal.

But don’t assume that Yakuza games are too dangerous. While the plots are badass and highly dramatic, the side quests are full of goofy ideas and humor. From the mushroom dealer who only wants to sell edible mushrooms but is mistaken for a drug dealer, to the exotic cults the player is drawn to, everything is included.

Every once in a while, you come across parodies of real people like Michael Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Mixing humor with pop culture, light-hearted digs in society, these side stories can get surprisingly emotional at times.

How does Yakuza play?

Although Yakuza games are often not categorized as RPGs, they contain many RPG elements. Battles (like Eliminate Dragons) mix melee and RPG elements and always produce some EXP or something similar, which can be used to improve your stats or learn new techniques. The basics are very simple and intuitive, but those who play with higher levels of difficulty will have to deal extensively with the mechanics.

The other part of the gameplay consists of city exploration and mini games. Yakuza has a lot of it, including karaoke rhythm games, car racing simulations, thrilling phone calls, and actual games from the Sega catalog simulated in Yakuza. Many of these games are simple arcade games, but there are plenty to spend hours with.

Where do you start?

The main Yakuza series (excluded as A Dragon) is complete and consists of seven parts, the first two parts (originally for PlayStation 2) received a remake called “Kiwami”. All the games are chronologically linked and cover a real time period – from the 80s to the present. You can always slip into the role of Kiryu Kazuma, although there are other main characters to play with in many parts. The timeline is very simple:

  • Yakuza 0
  • Yakuza / Yakuza Kiwami
  • Yakuza 2 / Yakuza Kiwami 2
  • Yakuza 3
  • Yakuza 4
  • Yakuza 5
  • Yakuza 6

Fortunately, it actually offers the best possible introduction to this series Yakuza 0. You don’t need any previous knowledge, try the game systems in mature form and start directly with the game of yakuza, the action of which is very captivating. It is better to play all the other parts in chronological order.

Sure, getting started with Yakuza Kiwami is also possible, but you can tell from the story that the original is a bit older. In all respects, from scope to story, Yakuza 0 is a bit behind, although it is without a doubt worth recommending nonetheless.

Above all, I recommend Yakuza 0 as an introduction because it makes sense to experience the series in its best form right from the start. Within the games, the gameplay is repeated quite often – sites and mini-games are often taken in each new part and supplemented with additional content – and similar movement patterns also occur many times. So it makes sense to try out the best new and unbiased part, and be amazed by all the things that set Yakuza apart from other Japanese and Western games alike.

Since the games are very similar to each other, I also recommend giving a certain amount of time before touching the next part, unless you’re just playing for the story. Because after playing a Yakuza game or two so intensely, you might get exhausted and miss out on a lot of optional content in the next title.

In any case, one should not let oneself be guided too much by the urge to complete. Because Yakuza is a series where you as a player can focus on the aspects that you enjoy most. In the long run, ignoring a few little games you don’t like is definitely a healthier attitude than always striving for the platinum trophy.

There are still a number of spin-offs, including the infamous Yakuza: Dead Souls with a zombie apocalypse as a scenario. Also noteworthy are Yakuza Kenzan and Yakuza Ishin, which are located in historical Japan and star samurai instead of yakuza. Among the spin-offs, Yakuza: Dead Souls is currently only available in the West.

TL; Dr:

Yakuza is a series that impresses with a strong cinematic plot, heavy-handed yakuza dramas, realistically recreated locations in Japan, entertaining mini-games, gorgeously engaging combat games, and oddly funny side stories – often with plenty of magic and more than just a wink, but Always with a sense of when a presentation should be serious. Yakuza 0 offers the best possible start. With an Xbox or PlayStation subscription, you first have to worry about purchase prices if you want to get the games in your collection. Because they are good.

Artwork: Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Sega, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio – This article was originally published largely by Ruben on JPGAMES.DE in 2018. There have been slight edits in light of current events.

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