The Yakuza series is one of the most beloved IPs around. There's no Yakuza fan who wouldn't recommend the series to anyone looking for excellent stories and satisfying combat across the board. However, in recent times, the franchise has gone through a bit of a transformation, with Yakuza: Like a Dragon serving as an indication of the bold new direction that the series is taking.
This led to fans discussing the changes that Yakuza: Like a Dragon made to the existing formula. After all, the systems of the main games were pretty much established, with Yakuza 0 arguably being the pinnacle of the series' achievements. Like a Dragon differs from this title in several ways, with the most impactful changes being listed below.
8 Turn-Based Combat Instead Of Real-Time Combat
The biggest difference between Yakuza 0 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon stems from the combat system. The latter opts for a turn-based battle system — an idea that was pitched as an April's Fools joke, only to evolve into something grand.
This was a huge change that startled most Yakuza fans, since they were used to the real-time combat of the series that had been carried over for quite some time. However, Like a Dragon ended up adapting its JRPG combat nicely and is all the better for it.
7 Ichiban Kasuga Replacing Kazuma Kiryu
Yakuza 0 and other games in the Yakuza series focused mostly on Kiryu and his struggles as a part of the Yakuza. While there were other characters he shared the spotlight with, there's absolutely no denying the fact that Kiryu was meant to be the main focus across all the seven Yakuza games that have come out prior to Like a Dragon.
Again, the latest game in the series flips the script by bringing forward a different protagonist. Ichiban Kasuga is more emotive and talkative than his predecessor but the likability of this character ends up being his saving grace that makes him a worthy successor to the legacy of the Dragon of Dojima.
6 The Addition Of An English Dub
Another first for the series, Like a Dragon wasn't just limited to a Japanese voiceover like Yakuza 0 and any other games in the series. Instead, it actually features an English dub, which is quite neat for fans who don't really like reading subtitles.
Opinions are obviously going to be split down the line when it comes to choosing between an English or Japanese playthrough of the game. For what it's worth, the English dub does a pretty decent job... although the game certainly feels more authentic in Japanese, given its setting.
5 The Inclusion Of A New Side Activity
Side activities are a major draw of the Yakuza series, with the games being full to the brim with engaging minigames and nerve-wracking contests as you try to get as much money as possible in Yakuza 0. So, it was only a given that the tradition of intense side activities would be carried over to Like a Dragon as well.
What makes Like a Dragon even more special in this regard is the addition of a new minigame that feels like something out of Mario Kart. Dragon Kart is easily one of the best ways to pass time in this game when you want to take a break from the intensity of the main story.
4 Group Battles Over Individual Beatdowns
Yakuza 0 featured Kiryu and the Majima as one-man wrecking crews that completely destroyed the opposition in front of them. It didn't matter what the odds were — the Dragon of Dojima and the Mad Dog of Shimano had the fight in them to mow down waves of enemies without a care in the world.
In contrast, there's a lot of teamwork featured in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. This is to be expected from a JRPG, but what makes this inclusion all the more amazing is that this new focus doesn't take away from the epic moments in Like a Dragon — if anything, they're a crucial part of what makes some of the scenes in this title absolutely memorable.
3 The New Job System
Like a Dragon goes down the route of classic JRPGs and presents a fresh take on the age-old Job system that ends up fitting perfectly into the game. It's a great way for combat to feel varied and exciting at the same time — something that Yakuza 0 accomplished but in a totally different manner.
While both Kiryu and Majima had broad movesets of their own, none of them could really be classified as "jobs" since you couldn't really change their functionality outright in battle. Of course, that's not a bad thing — both games end up experimenting with different gameplay systems and achieve incredible results regardless.
2 A New Setting In The Form Of Isezaki Ijincho
Kamurocho was the focal setting for many games in the Yakuza series, and Yakuza 0 was no exception to this rule. This area, along with Sotenbori, ended up being central parts of the narrative.
However, for the first time in the series, Like a Dragon decided to shift the setting away from Kamurocho entirely. Instead, the game focuses on the area of Isezaki Ijincho in Yokohama instead, which certainly serves as a breath of fresh air for the series.
1 The Inclusion Of Female Playable Characters For The First Time
Yakuza 0 and the other games in the series didn't feature any female playable characters. While some were focal points of the narrative, the player could never control them at any time during the game.
However, this changed in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. The game finally featured female playable characters — namely, Saeko Mukoda and Eri Kamataki.
Maybe updates aren't always a good idea.