Update: The next Yakuza game will drop the number scheme, at least outside of Japan. Sega has confirmed that Yakuza: Like a Dragon is the official title for the new game, which is the first to star new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga, and that it's coming to the West in 2020. "Like a Dragon" is a translation of the series' Japanese name, Ryu Ga Gotoku, so it's a nice culture-bridging callback along the same lines as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard's title.
Sega also shared an extended trailer for the game that features full English subtitles. This trailer expands on the new crime kingpins Kasuga will clash once he arrives in Yokohama - and though it doesn't show any of the new turn-based RPG-style combat, the announcement confirms that's coming in the Western version too.
Original story: The Yakuza series was always meant to continue after bidding farewell to longtime protagonist Kazuma Kiryu in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Now that Kiryu's entire story will soon be playable on PS4, it's time to properly greet the new face of the series: Sega announced today that Yakuza 7 will hit PS4 on January 16, 2020 in Japan and later that same year in North America and Europe. According to translations of the Japanese press conference, Yakuza 7 will star a new protagonist - which we knew - and it will add turn-based strategy elements to the standard Yakuza fighting system - which we didn't, unless you count that April Fool's Day joke.
That "turn-based" part will probably make Yakuza fans go "hahhhh?!" like a clan patriarch who just heard that Kiryu beat up the 20 guys who were supposed to kill him. I was unnerved when I heard it too, but it looks like it could be a natural evolution of where the Yakuza series has been going with support characters in recent games. Check out this off-screen gameplay clip.
【龍が如く7 記者発表会】バトルの映像を少しお届け！周囲の環境や物を使ったおなじみの要素は、リアルタイムの物理演算によって取り入れている。周囲の環境も汲みながらコマンド選択をしていくことが楽しいバトルに！#龍が如く #龍が如く7 pic.twitter.com/UWAM1TEa6uAugust 29, 2019
New protagonist Ichiban Kasuga doesn't fight alone. He's accompanied into battle by allies, and players can pause combat to use their special abilities - the character we see above takes a swig of liquor and holds up a lighter, using his alcohol-infused breath as flamethrower fuel. Once they finish, the next character in the "Turn" counter in the lower-left side of the screen takes over.
It's a huge change for the Yakuza series and for Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio games as a whole (Judgment shared Yakuza's real-time combat system despite starring a lawyer turned private investigator). I loved fighting dozens of thugs in real time with nothing but Kiryu's fists and occasionally a traffic cone or two, but I'm willing to give the new style a shot. As Yakuza leaves the Dragon of Dojima era behind, it's time for the nearly 15-year-old series to try new things.
You can get ready for the Ichiban Kasuga era with this story trailer, if you don't mind all the untranslated dialogue.
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