If you love open world adventures but are tired of urban fantasies like Grand Theft Auto or sprawling period pieces like Assassin's Creed, then consider Yakuza, the cure for the common open world game.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the eigth mainline entry in the series, and it will be available on the XBox Series X, XBox One, PS4, and PC on November 10th, 2020 (with a PS5 version coming on March 2nd, 2021).
But before you snag your next-gen console, you might get more out of this series if you take a moment to learn about the other Yakuza games first.
Most of the games—in English versions—are already available either on XBox Game Pass or PC, so now's a great time to get into the whole series if you haven't already.
Yakuza began on the PlayStation 2 and follows a yakuza named Kazuma Kiryu, a member of the deadly Tojo Clan. Kiryu may be able to wipe the floor with just about anyone who opposes him, but he also has a heart of gold.
Across nearly every installment of the 18-game series, Kiryu is there as you hit the streets of Japan in a fictional city, beating up bad guys, carrying out special missions, playing mini games, and watching gripping stories unfold.
With so many games already out, it can be confusing to decide which one to start with. Luckily, you can mostly go by the numbering system.
Since Yakuza: Like a Dragon is something of a reboot, it takes you back to the very beginning. Although the newer Dragon Engine games are better looking, Yakuza 0 (which is technically the sixth in the series but is set earlier than the rest of the games) is the best place to start.
In Yakuza 0, you play as a young Kazuma Kiryu and the story sets the stage for the following seven main title games beautifully. This is one of the few prequels that feels like it was always part of the series and serves as an introduction to one of the best video game franchises ever.
Then you can move on to Yakuza Kiwami and enjoy the original title (the “Kiwami” subtitle just means that this is a newly-remastered version).
In that game, Kiryu has just been released from prison after being framed for a certain event that took place in Yakuza 0.
Upon getting out, Kiryu attempts to return to his life, and it truly feels like the world’s your oyster, especially if you started your play through with Yakuza 0 and are continuing on with Yakuza Kiwami.
From there, we recommend you play the games in numerical order, but if you’re not too concerned about the overarching story you can really go wild.
Play the spinoff Yakuza: Dead Souls to jump into a hilarious zombie-slaying adventure. Try Judgment for a Yakuza-like crime thriller. And when you’re ready, jump into the Like a Dragon when it debuts in November.
Just don’t be surprised when you can’t go back to the open world games you were used to before. Those usually don’t have host clubs, UFO machines, and classic Sega arcade games to keep you busy in between missions.