Yakuza 7 has a release date of January 16, 2020 in Japan for the PS4 and in the lead up to this, Sega has let slip some information regarding its story and gameplay in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine. Details regarding Ichiban Kasuga (the game’s protagonist), game length, character classes, story, and more have been divulged. Here’s what you can expect from Yakuza 7, which is rumoured to be called Yakuza: Like A Dragon in the West, which would be odd when you consider that there’s a 2007 crime film of the same name based on the first Yakuza game that released in 2005.

Yakuza 7 news: combat, gameplay, story, and protagonist Ichiban Kasuga

  • Ichiban Kasuga isn’t the type of one-man army who can singlehandedly charge into the enemy headquarters like Kiryu can. He fights with allies, and the RPG format is a straightforward representation of this.
  • The April Fools joke video was actually quite liked, although whether this was because it wasn’t revealed that this was the true gameplay of the new game is another matter entirely.
  • Part of the reason for the shift is that they wanted to prove that Ryu ga Gotoku Studio could make games other than action-adventure games. The reason it was given a numbered title status was because this is a true mainline Yakuza game that the studio has come up with. While the story flow will match what has been shown in Yakuza Online, character relationships and events are completely different.
  • The total play time of the game will be longer than previous games, and even the main story alone will take double the time to complete. Substories and play spots will give money, EXP, and skills not only to Kasuga but also his other allies.
  • You can decide job classes for all the characters, and some will have job classes that are easier or harder to change into. Enemy encounters are done through symbol encounters. In this game, they don’t plan on blocking off areas you can’t get to due to story purposes. Instead, strong enemies will act as the barriers.
  • Yokohama isn’t controlled by the Tojo Clan or the Omi Alliance, and the reason why will be explained in-game. Ijincho itself is quite different from the real-life counterpart Chojamachi, and is 3-4 times larger than Kamurocho, not including dungeons. Each area of the map will sell equipment of different grades.
  • You will be able to visit Kamurocho at certain spots in the story.
  • Dragon Quest exists in the world of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and other terms like Puff-Puff will also appear in the game. The reason why character appearances change, and why allies appear to suddenly pull out weapons, is because the RPG battles are a figment of Kasuga’s imagination. From a third person’s view, they are fighting normally. The varying appearances of the enemies is a visual representation of the enemies’ strength, a modern day version of how Dragon Quest visually sorts its monsters.
  • During Kasuga’s childhood, the only happy moments in his life was the time he spent playing Dragon Quest. He sees himself as the Hero and wants to set off on an adventure. Kasuga’s ideals of fighting fairly are also influenced by Dragon Quest.

After lifting the lid on Yakuza 7 with a release date, gameplay, and trailer, Sega also confirmed that Yakuza 7 will have one major gameplay change – the combat will be turn-based instead of real-time which was a series staple. Previously, Yakuza 7 developer RGG Studio posted an April Fool’s Day video suggesting the game would be turn-based, leading some to believe it would simply be a mini-game much like Yakuza 6’s clan wars, however this is far from the case.

“[C]lassic Yakuza game format reached one complete style so wanted to try totally different to jump. Our experts of action game creation made this RPG with their flavor; hope fans welcome this change,” claimed series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi (via The Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki). “If not, happy to change back to action game for future releases.”

It’s an intriguing change, bringing Yakuza 7 into the realm of role-playing games with turn-based combat. Older games in the series dipped their toes into that genre what with skill trees and inventory management. Hopefully it gels well with the international audience as the franchise’s other gambles such as uniquely Japanese setting and myriad of mini-games.

Yakuza 7 releases on January 16, 2020 for PlayStation 4 in Japan. An English release is set for later in 2020. Given the series’ cult status in India, how Sega decides to price Yakuza 7 for the market will be a point of interest for its diehard fans.