Looking to play my first Yakuza game. Where should I begin?

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Magikarplvl9000

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Hey bombfam I was watching the QL of Like A Dragon and I think the game looks pretty neat. I'm not really into traditional turn based rpgs, but the game just looks bokers and I need to see how crazy it is haha but I keep hearing Jeff talk about how good Zero was and I know they are entirely different games in terms of mechanics, and Zero seems more up my alley. My concern with that game is that it's going to "feel" kinda dated? If that makes sense?

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FinalDasa

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Yakuza 0 will set up the basics of Yakuza while keeping it pretty goofy. The design of Yakuza hasn't changed too much and 0 is a 'newer' entry in the series.

I found jumping in at 3 or 4 was pretty good. Or honestly, even 5 or 6 might work because while Yakuza has wonderful characters and some interesting stories, I don't think it's always worth the many many hours it takes to see it all. So just dive in wherever, find one on sale, and see if you enjoy it.

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KarlHungus01

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Yakuza 0. It was literally made as an easy entry to the series. It also happens to be the best game.

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Magikarplvl9000

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@finaldasa: I'm playing on a PS4 Pro and there's a holiday sale going on and Like A Dragon is on there for $45. I'd assume that's a good deal for how recently that released. Is Zero or Like A Dragon better than one another in terms of mechanics or story? Just in general?

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Efesell

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Yeah 0 is the best entry point right now. It's a great game and given where it is in series timeline there's no narrative baggage that you'll be in the dark about, only little references here and there.

It's on Game Pass, if you have it.

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Magikarplvl9000

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@karlhungus01: interesting. I remember Max Scoville praising Zero on Beyond! Years ago when I used to listen to them. And Jeff recently talking about how good it was has me thinking this is the direction I want to go, but Like A Dragon is on a sale on PSN right now so that also has me thinking.

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Efesell

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#7  Edited By Efesell

If you do want to just start with Like A Dragon then that's fine to. It's basically the start of an entire new chapter in Yakuza so it stands well on its own.

Just know that while there's a ton of weird Yakuza shit to enjoy it plays like a very basic turn based RPG, it's trying to be Dragon Quest after all.

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Nodima

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I'll be a bit of a renegade and say Yakuza Kiwami is a great place to start. I played it before Zero because it was a PS+ offering and had a really good time. Kiwami also has the benefit of being a relatively shorter game - I think I only put about 35 hours into and I did pretty much all the side content other than some of the grindier elements like the batting practice challenges and the deeper fight club challenges.

But I also tried to play Zero immediately after Kiwami and a combination of knowing all the story beats via Beast in the East and general fatigue with the combat system (it's very mashy and one note with a layer of challenge that's not always appreciated) I fell off of it after just six or seven hours. I know via that GB feature that it's an incredible experience compared to Kiwami but I just wasn't ready for 60-80 more hours of it.

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brian_

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Four was my first and I don't remember being too lost in it. I'm pretty sure it actually has optional video recaps in it of the important cutscenes from the previous games in the main menu. It was either four or five that had that. The later games are usually pretty good at catching you up. The story in four also starts you as new protagonists for the series, so you don't need a whole lot of backstory for most of it anyways. I think if you aren't going to go in chronological order, or just start with the newest one, four's a decent option.

People say 0's a good place to start too, which I can agree with, but I also feel like I got more out of 0 having that knowledge of the character from playing previous games and seeing their origins than if I just started at 0.

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liquiddragon

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Y4

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clagnaught

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Yakuza 0 is probably the perfect pitch for what this franchise is and it has no baggage since it is the first game chronologically.

Yakuza Like A Dragon on the other hand is devoid of most of the story stuff also since the main character is a new character.

Either would be a fine intro. That said Yakuza 0 is more meat and potatoes. It’s arguably less ambitious than Like A Dragon, but it nails what it’s going for exceptionally well. (I think Like A Dragon is great also, but it misses more than 0) Unless you hate beat em ups or something, I would play 0.

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The_Nubster

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Yakuza 0. It is a fantastically-written story, easily the best in the series (seriously? fuck city-wide surveillance, what a dumb crutch for the other entirety of the series to fall back on), and it does a ton of heavy lifting character-wise to make Kiwami halfway decent experience.

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Shiftygism

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Over the last two Black Fridays I've bought 0-6 and Judgment. Started with Judgment as it's supposedly a spinoff with only loose ties to the series.

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tartyron

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I feel like I see this question asked here on totally new threads at least once a month. The answer is Zero, of course. It’s both the best entry because of its chronological place in the story, and also is the best entry in the series, period. Plus, some of the jokes in zero slide right into the remakes of one, two and six (the saga of Pocket Circuit Fighter, the Majima Everywhere stuff, etc.)

The only downside is that it is all downhill from there. And that doesn’t mean any of them are bad at all, just that zero is the absolute best of the bunch.

Good luck on your journey. I wound up playing every entry over the past three years.

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LyndBako

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I say start with the PS2 games and play in release order, but that's an unpopular opinion for some reason

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taccyp

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Like a Dragon or 0 for sure

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Efesell

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#19  Edited By Efesell

@lyndbako said:

I say start with the PS2 games and play in release order, but that's an unpopular opinion for some reason

For good reason, I would say.

On a subjective level it's because Yakuza 1 is kind of bad. The gameplay is rough, the dub has its "charm", and the characters aren't established yet and are all over the place in some regards. Yakuza 2 kicks ass and probably holds up a lot better but it's still gonna be dated as fuck. Yakuza 3 is a fuckin mess. All of that is a lot to ask someone wanting to check a series out.

Very few people are going to be able to marathon Yakuza games, especially if they start at their most nascent states. The games are longer with every installment and pretty honestly pretty repetitive flowing from game to game like that. A lot of people would burn out on old games and see very little of the series that people actually rave about.

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Jakelshark

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I’ve played them all except the original PS2 versions

Kiwami 2 is my favorite. Best gameplay and one of the better stories.

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flatblack

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#21  Edited By flatblack

Another vote for Zero. One of my favorite games of all time.

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bobafettjm

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I only a few months ago did the same thing and started my dive into the series. I would say 0 is the best game to start with. It sets up so much of the story of not just a lot of the characters, but also Kamurocho in general. I have really enjoyed seeing the different locations from game to game, seeing what changed and what didn't.

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KarlHungus01

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#23  Edited By KarlHungus01

@karlhungus01: interesting. I remember Max Scoville praising Zero on Beyond! Years ago when I used to listen to them. And Jeff recently talking about how good it was has me thinking this is the direction I want to go, but Like A Dragon is on a sale on PSN right now so that also has me thinking.

Both are great entries. I consider Like a Dragon my 2nd favorite of the series (maybe I just like origin stories?) so you won't go wrong if you prefer turn-based combat.

I've beaten all of LAD and I will say that you can definitely just dive into LAD since it's a fresh start, but you will be rewarded with a slightly richer experience if you play at least some of the Kiryu saga first. None of the characters or story from previous games matter to the plot, but the worldbuilding and some historical references are present for those who've played earlier games.

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cstrang

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Zero is the best of the brawler-types IMO, so if you think you're gonna undertake the huge endeavor of playing all of them, playing Y0 will probably spoil you. Y3 remaster is probably the worst.

Kiwami 1 is solid, Kiwami 2 is very good. That being said, Like A Dragon is a new storyline so don't feel obligated.

Y0 > LAD > K2 > K1 > Y6 > Y5 > Y4 > Y3

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redwing42

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Zero is a very good game and a great place to start. I haven't played 7, but I would think you could probably play 7 and then go back to Zero (or 1) without too many issues, if you wanted.

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flatblack

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Zero also constantly goes on sale for like five bucks which is an absolute steal

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Ryan3370

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I've only played zero and like a dragon and didn't feel like I was missing anything story wise

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Magikarplvl9000

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Thanks for everyone that had commented on my post and suggested what to play. I decided to go with Zero because it's my first Yakuza game and it's a pretty low barrier for entry with a $20 price tag. Watch some Beast In The East and I think this was the right call. Seems absolutely crazy and I cannot wait till it's installed.

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chaser324

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#30 chaser324  Moderator

Yeah, I think you made the right choice. While Y7 is mostly a new story, there is stuff in there that will hit better if you have some familiarity with the previous games.

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MonkeyKing1969

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Thanks for everyone that had commented on my post and suggested what to play. I decided to go with Zero because it's my first Yakuza game and it's a pretty low barrier for entry with a $20 price tag. Watch some Beast In The East and I think this was the right call. Seems absolutely crazy and I cannot wait till it's installed.

Good choice. Zero is excellent.

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redwing42

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#32  Edited By redwing42

The only caveat is that if you do move on to Yakuza 1 or Kiwami next is that there is a disconnect with Majima's character, as he developed as the series went on and Zero does a bit of retconning to keep him in line with the more recent track of the character.

Also, Zero Majima is one of my favorite video game characters of the generation.

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hermes

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Will repeat what others have said and start with 0. Not only is the best of the main Yakuza games, but it is a prequel, so it doesn't require knowledge of previous games (there are some nods to characters that will become more important later/earlier on, but they are not so distracting). I also think it is a better starting point than Kiwami, since it explores some characters a lot more than they originally did.

Like a Dragon is a nice way to start as well, because it is a new protagonist in a new setting, and quite disconnected to the elements of the previous games. Just keep in mind that it is a different genre, so it might get awkward if you try another game in the series after this one.

Personally, I started with 4 because of the PS3, and it wasn't too confusing. All later Yakuza games have menu options with cutscenes from previous games, and the structure of the campaign makes it that you get to control Kiryu in the last quarter of the game, so it is (for the most part) in a similar position as Like a Dragon...

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snaketelegraph

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@lyndbako said:

I say start with the PS2 games and play in release order, but that's an unpopular opinion for some reason

This thread has already been decided by OP but I want to acknowledge that you're right.

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MrCathal

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#35  Edited By MrCathal

Zero, it's probably the best game. Also, its own story which means you don't need any knowledge of the other games.

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Cybexx

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@lyndbako said:

I say start with the PS2 games and play in release order, but that's an unpopular opinion for some reason

This thread has already been decided by OP but I want to acknowledge that you're right.

As some who started with the original PS2 games on their North American release I get the purity angle but the whole input processing issue makes those games extremely hard for me to recommend.

Needing to spin Kiryu to face the enemies before starting to input your combo felt dated in 2005, especially since DMC had solved this in 2001. The snap to enemy with L1 option you eventually unlock isn't really enough to alleviate this frustration.

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snaketelegraph

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@cybexx said:
@snaketelegraph said:
@lyndbako said:

I say start with the PS2 games and play in release order, but that's an unpopular opinion for some reason

This thread has already been decided by OP but I want to acknowledge that you're right.

As some who started with the original PS2 games on their North American release I get the purity angle but the whole input processing issue makes those games extremely hard for me to recommend.

Needing to spin Kiryu to face the enemies before starting to input your combo felt dated in 2005, especially since DMC had solved this in 2001. The snap to enemy with L1 option you eventually unlock isn't really enough to alleviate this frustration.

I started the same place; I'm not going to say it's the best way to experience them playing-wise for a total newcomer who asks if Y0 might feel dated but story-wise I think it's by far the best way. If someone has some tolerance for PS2 era, the ability to play them, and wants to get deep into the series, I'd personally recommend it over the 0>remakes course.

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pearsonpark

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Yakuza 0’s great. As for the next ones, I tried each Kiwami when it went on GamePass and couldn’t get through them because the writing was so much worse than 0’s, so maybe level set your expectations for those. If you’re also on Xbox/PC then you’ve also got Yakuza 6 to look forward to when it comes to Game Pass in March.

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youeightit

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#39 youeightit  Online

I recommend just diving all the way in, with a few exceptions:

1. Play Zero first. Then play Kiwami 1 and 2, they're both great; although I hear they made a few changes to two, which I can't speak to because I played the original, but I assume you won't miss anything by playing Kiwami 2 and it is worth playing because it's one of the best games in the series (I think).

2. I wholeheartedly believe you can completely skip 3 and 5, I feel like 3 felt kinda phoned in and 5 suffers from there being so much going on. They try a lot of different things that don't work in 5, and the plot is easy to lose the thread on. However I do recommend getting a story recap from youtube or something. Also skip the non-canonical games like that terrible zombie shooter and the Fist of the North Star game.

3. Definitely play 4 because it's also a very strong entry in the series.

4. I personally think 6 was pretty weak, but individual mileage may vary. If you follow the above roadmap you might just need to see it for yourself at that point but you could easily just watch a story summary of that one too.

5. Play Judgment because, even though it's not a Yakuza game, it's totally a Yakuza game and a really really good one at that.

6. I guess play 7? I decided to skip it initially because I have no interest in an rpg take on that universe and I thought the main character was really super ugly looking but it has become the Yakuza game that people can't shut up about so now I'm curious enough that I will probably play it.

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dudeglove

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First and only game I played was Yakuza 0. It's great. I'd love to play more of them when I get the time.

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Jakelshark

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#41  Edited By Jakelshark

I just want to shout out Y3 because after playing all the games before and after, it was a nice change of pace in a lot of ways. The story is a bit muddled (even by Yakuza standards) but I enjoyed the characters. I respect the hell out of a bold choice to make a big chunk of the game just hanging out with your kids at the orphanage. No one takes risks like that anymore.

But if you're mostly looking for the humor, yeah you might want to skip Y3. I think there are some great scenes in it, but I enjoyed it for being so different. It probably is the worst of the franchise, but I don't think someone should skip it. I think it was also the shortest in the franchise. At least personally I knocked it out over a long weekend.

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Efesell

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The best thing about Yakuza 3 is that review interviewing former Yakuza about it.

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Cybexx

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Yakuza 3 I think is the weakest in the main series but all the Yakuza games build up to great finales in my opinion and even Yakuza 3 has a fun finale though the plot twists are very laughable.

My assumption with Yakuza 3 was that it was the first game Hase Seishū, the Japanese crime novelist, didn't write the main plot and it seems like the team that had previously written the comedic sidequests had a real struggle switching gears to also writing self serious crime drama. Yakuza 4 is a huge improvement in writing.

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Efesell

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I mean the problem with Yakuza 3 as I see it is strictly that it's pacing is dreadful. Once it finally, reluctantly, gets started it's a pretty good game.

I think 5 struggles with this a lot as well but it's more of a fits and starts kind of issue that I found easier to forgive.

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taylorwmartin

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#45  Edited By taylorwmartin

Super easy question to answer coming from someone who has played them all. Yakuza 0