Yakuza: Like A Dragon completely revamps the franchise’s gameplay, turning it from an open-world brawler into a honest-to-goodness JRPG. For fans of the franchise, it can be jarring to re-learn decades-old muscle memory, while for newcomers, there are many Yakuza-specific intricacies that might trip you up.
If you’re having trouble (or just want to be able to jump in feet-first!) don’t fret! We’ve put together a collection of tips and tricks to make a Yakuza: Like A Dragon guide fit for even the most experienced (or inexperienced) hero. Let’s jump in!
Unlock and Uncover Much of the Map Early
In true Yakuza fashion, Yakuza: Like A Dragon begins with an hours-long prologue that is extremely, extremely cutscene-heavy and linear. If you’re a completionist, be patient. The game doesn’t really open up until Chapter 3, and even then, you’re tethered to a pretty small chunk of Yokohama.
That said, Ichiban Kasuga is a newcomer in Yokohama, which means that unlike previous games where you start out with a full map, you’ll have to discover Yokohama for yourself, revealing portions of the map as you do so.
Our suggestion, in order to make your life a whole lot easier later on, is to unlock and uncover as much of the map as soon as you can. As a sidenote, it’s generally good to interact with everything you see in the game. Even if there’s nothing you can do about it at the time, things like unopened safes get marked on your map for later!
There are a couple of important things to keep in mind as you explore, though:
Avoid Powerful Enemies Using the Danger Rating!
This is less of an issue if you’re exploring in Chapter 3, but as you cross between districts, you’ll see a danger rating near the minimap.
More stars mean higher-level enemies will appear to beat you down. If you encounter one of these groups of enemies and fail to escape, causing you to lose the fight, you’ll lose half your cash on hand. This doesn’t include any cash stored elsewhere, or items of value.
Early on, while you’re totally cash-strapped, this won’t be a big deal. Later on, though, you’ll want to use ATMs regularly just in case you can’t escape from a particularly tough fight while exploring the city.
This is a very key tip that the game hides in sub-menus. Although you’ll begin your Yokohama adventure with a couple of taxi stops unlocked, allowing you to fast travel between them for a fee, the rest of the taxi stops need to be discovered.
The problem is that just finding the taxis doesn’t add them to your map. You must interact with them to add the fast travel point to both your map and your smartphone app.
You don’t actually have to pay the cabbie to take you somewhere. Instead, just talk to cabbies and you’ll be all set. Make sure to do this while you’re exploring an area for map completion, and it’ll save you a lot of time later.
Yokohama is big, and having a quick way to fast travel around will really help.
Like previous games in the franchise, substories in Yakuza: Like A Dragon are all clearly marked on the map, even if they take place in undiscovered map areas. Early in the game, you’re going to want to focus on substories even if you’re not a completionist, because substory fight rewards are much larger in terms of experience and money.
As soon as you have the cash, you should buy money-and-experience-boosting drinks from vending machines and save them for use in these substory battles. This goes double for boss battles.
Grinding trash enemies in Yakuza: Like A Dragon isn’t really an efficient way to level up and make money early on, so by buying those drinks, you’ll really be getting ahead of the game.
- While you’re exploring, you’ll also want to pay attention to the left side of your screen. Occasionally, depending on where you’re walking and where you are in the game, you’ll see a pop-up that triggers a conversation with your party. Make sure to trigger these small conversations, because they will increase party member bonding, which in turn helps unlock ‘drink links’ at Bar Survive that make your party members much, much stronger. You can also increase party bonding by eating and playing minigames with your party.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon generally does a very good job of explaining its battle system, but there are a few things that are still a little bit unclear.
First of all, the environmental battle system allows you to use nearby objects to beat enemies down. This happens in real-time as your party and your enemies maneuver around each other. If you see an opening, take it. If there’s an object near your player character, they’ll kick it at your opponent before the standard attack. If the object is near the enemy, they’ll use it to beat them down.
Keep in mind that this works for your enemies as well. They’ll be kicking objects at you too, so try to force enemies away from objects if you can.
Use Down Attacks
In addition, don’t discount down attacks (both on offense and on defense)! Yakuza: Like A Dragon battles are turn-based, yes, but they happen in real-time, with battlers getting knocked around and getting back up as blows land.
This means that your window of opportunity for a powerful down attack is time-sensitive, and dependent on turn order. If you’re gearing up an attack that is going to leave one or more enemies downed, make sure the next character in the order is a player-controlled one so that you can follow up. If an enemy is next up, consider another attack or skills that heal, offer buffs or debuffs, or inflict status conditions.
Early on in the game, you’ll also unlock auto battle. Only activate it in relatively-low-risk areas and have it set so that you won’t expend MP on skills while fighting trash mobs. Keep in mind though, that you will still be able to use perfect guard and skill-based action commands while auto-battling, no matter what auto-battle style you use.
Those are all the tips and tricks you need to know to tackle Yakuza: Like A Dragon with all the skill and confidence of a true hero! And if you missed it before, make sure to read our Yakuza: Like A Dragon review to see if the game is right for you. Spoiler alert: it probably is.