The latest entry in the long-running gangster simulator franchise, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is out on April 17. In the run up to this Gadgets 360 has spent some quality time with the retail release of the game. Previously, we checked out the Japanese demo for Yakuza 6 and you can read our impressions of this PS4-exclusive. Now that we’ve played the game in a language we fully comprehend on a PS4 Pro, we’re able to answer some of Yakuza 6’s most crucial questions. Here’s what you need to know.
Do you need to play the past games in the series to understand Yakuza 6?
No you don’t need to, for plenty of reasons. For one, the main menu of the game hosts a section called ‘Memories’. Here you can check out the plot of each game from the very first game all the way up to Yakuza 5. And if you’re looking for something with a bit more detail, there’s the Yakuza Experience site with a comic book series and background information on story and characters. In addition to this, there’s a flashback sequence at the beginning of the game to bring you up to speed.
Aside from the fact that there are multiple ways to catch up to the plot, the story of Yakuza 6 is also such that you really don’t need to bother too much with the events of games prior. It's self-contained enough that you won't miss anything major even if you're new to the series.
Does the story of Yakuza 6 hold up compared to other games in the series?
Yakuza 6 puts you in the role of series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, a legendary Yakuza. After spending years in prison he discovers his adopted daughter Haruka is in a coma. What’s more is, she also had a child called Haruto. It’s up to Kiryu to piece together what happened in his absence, tracking down Haruto’s father and unravelling the mystery of Haruka’s accident in a journey that takes place in series staple Kamurocho, and Onomichi — a new location in Hiroshima.
Without spoiling much, the pacing of Yakuza 6’s story is superlative, moving from one beat to the another introducing new characters and entertaining scenarios at a steady clip. It’s done in such a breezy and effortless fashion that you’d never think this was the sixth mainline entry (seventh if we count the prequel, Yakuza 0 in the series.
How does Yakuza 6 graphics and frame rate hold up?
Being the first game in the series built ground up for the PS4 (not PS4 Pro mind you), it has some welcome additions like a seamless transition between combat and exploration. The frame rate holds up well even in the most demanding of scenarios, and the cut-scenes show off the level of detail we’ve come to expect from this series.
Compared to the Japanese demo, image quality is a lot better and it looks a bit sharper too, particularly at night with an assortment of lights and water effects. There are some jagged edges in environments such as stairs and fences that tend to mar the proceedings though, and there weren’t any PS4 Pro exclusive enhancements to speak of in the game’s settings.
Can you save anywhere in Yakuza 6?
Unlike Yakuza 0 which let you save the game at payphones littered across the city, Yakuza 6 lets you save whenever you want via Kiryu’s smartphone. It also lets you take pictures of your surroundings (yes, even selfies), answer messages with stickers — even those from the game’s tutorial, which show up here — and partake in limited time events.
How does combat work in Yakuza 6?
Unlike Yakuza 0’s multiple fighting styles, Yakuza 6 has only one option. Nonetheless, it maintains a sense of depth thanks to its many skills and perks that can be unlocked. These range from earning three times the experience in battle to learning moves that can avoid enemy grapples. Controlling Kiryu can feel a bit sluggish if you were partial towards the Rush fighting style of Yakuza 0, but you get used to it an hour in.
Where Yakuza 6’s combat really shines is in its over the top moves courtesy of Heat. Much like Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, pulling off a string of successful moves grants you Heat. Filling up a bar of Heat lets you trigger ridiculous combos of punches and kicks that are punctuated by quick time events resulting in the glorious rearrangement of your opponent’s face. It might not be as varied as past games but it is entertaining enough to keep you playing.
What kind of mini-games can we expect in Yakuza 6?
Much like past games, you can play darts, or check out batting cages, and there's stuff that's more out there, such as managing a cat cafe. In a lot of ways, Yakuza 6’s emphasis on mini-games make it like a mature version of Nintendo’s NES Remix or Wario titles. Other new additions include running a baseball club, as well as being able to play complete arcade games like Virtua Fighter 5 and Puyo Puyo from the main menu. You can even manage your own clan.
Does Yakuza 6 have a battle royale mode?
PUBG and Fortnite might have grabbed all the limelight, but Yakuza 6 has something of its own called Clan Creator. Here, 100 members of your own personal army take to the streets to brawl against other gangs in a top-down fashion similar to a real-time strategy game. It ties in with one of the game’s many subplots, and is an interesting diversion that could very well be its own standalone game with different unit types, special abilities and a whole lot more. Winning these clan battles grants a ton of cash, useful for items and food to get through some of the main game’s more gruelling parts.
What can we expect from Yakuza 6’s side missions?
Similar to past games, Yakuza 6’s side missions - or substories as they’re called - are a mix of the heartwarming and bizarre along with a lot of period-specific commentary. Since Yakuza 6 is set in 2017, some of these deal with the prevalence of AI in smartphones, social media influencers, and drones. With 51 substories and no easy way to find them like you could in past games, you’ll be combing through the streets of Kamurocho and Onomichi to discover them all.
There’s a full demo for the game out on February 27 that features its open-world and introduction. Sega has said you can carry progress over to the full game when it hits on April 17. Meanwhile, expect more impressions of our time in Kamurocho and Onomichi in the weeks to come.