Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth features the biggest map in the Yakuza franchise. Marking the series’ first venture outside of Japan, the upcoming title will transport players to the tourist hotspot of Hawaii — Honolulu City, to be exact. Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio claims that the vast new stage is more than three times the size of Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s Isezaki Ijincho, the suburb where the afro-haired Kasuga Ichiban was introduced. That means, the Hawaii map is nearly nine times the size of the Kamurocho district, the series’ primary Japanese setting punctuated by shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, where we dabbled in action-packed illicit acts through the eyes of Kazuma Kiryu, the series’ main protagonist who keeps getting pulled back into the life of crime.
As part of the announcement, RGG Studio revealed some key locations worth visiting in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, starting with Aloha Beach, the lively sun-baked shoreline where players can even head out swimming. Then there’s the Anaconda Shopping Center for Yakuza fans to fulfil their arcade gaming needs and grab a quick snack, followed by the bustling Chinatown area that’s lush with steaming food stalls, markets, and the Nirvana Bank Hotel, where only the wealthiest folk dwell. As a revered tourist location, the Waiki Town area is the place to go to buy souvenirs, District 5 to engage with the local mafia, and Little Japan is the spot for delectable sushi for when our heroes feel homesick. Yep, we’ve got two protagonists this time, as Ichiban Kasuga is sent to Hawaii under the promise of reuniting with his mother, only to meet with Kazuma Kiryu, who challenges him to a ‘final battle.’
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A story trailer from September revealed that Kiryu had been battling cancer, in addition to dealing with the complexities of old age. In a way, it seems like RGG Studio is retiring Kiryu from the lead role, which also explains why the new age of Yakuza games were rebranded as ‘Like a Dragon’ in the West. As such, the gameplay also witnessed a huge transition, going from the overexaggerated real-time action combat to a turn-based affair, akin to the Persona series of games. As usual, anything goes in these battles, so feel free to use environmental objects as your weapon, such as a car battery to electrocute foes, summon muscley Poundmates to pummel enemies, blast them with a car crash, and even pull off cinematic tag-team moves. And of course, food items grant temporary stat bonuses for when you’re in a pickle.
Hoverbikes to traverse the streets, pizza delivery minigames, and Karaoke sessions are also part of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. RGG Studio head Masayoshi Yokoyama described the title as a ‘monster class’ of a game, adding that if one were to play it continuously, they’d get sick. “This means that a lot of people are going to hesitate to play the game or will end up having it wait on their shelves. I found the possibility of that kind of outcome sad, so I thought, we have to get everyone hyped up enough to play it,” he said in an interview. To combat that, the studio opted for a festival-like atmosphere, which he believes would urge players to finish it within a week to a month, ‘even at the cost of their health.’