This is the third Yakuza game I have played on the ps4. It is the 7th main entry in the series by SEGA as Yakuza 0 is a prequel.
This is a more modernized and updated version from the previous games I have played in the series. Autosave is now finally added and it replaces the telephone manual save system.
The world is much more larger than in 0 and kiwami. It takes place in both the main location Kamurcho and Onomichi. Both places are highly different than each other. One is this shady red-light district where things change each time you play a game from the series. And it is set in a busy city. While in Onomichi it is a low key quiet small town. Where it is set in the country side. Both settings look really well detailed and unique.
The graphics are now on a engine built only for the series the Dragon Engine. It looks really impressive and a step up from the previous games.
The story is accessible towards newcomers. And there is also memories section in the start menu that covers each major detail from the previous games such as Yakuza 1 and Yakuza 4. And also, some of the characters from Yakuza 4 and 5 make their return in the game like Goro Majima. But it is mainly focused on a new cast of characters and a new setting. So the older characters are put to the side for most of the time. This story focuses mainly on the series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. He has been through a lot since the first game and after being released from serving 3 years in prison. He is once again brought in the middle of the cross hairs of Yakuza infighting.
The story is pretty good it focuses a lot on Kiryu's life being a father towards his adoptive daughter. And now being a grandfather towards this baby who is somehow connected towards the events of the game.
Combat in this game has been updated and rebuilt from scratch. You can finally run away from encounters if you do not want to fight. You can learn various heat moves and fighting skills by getting various xp points like technique,agility,strength and charm both are used to upgrading your health or getting more perks like drinking from a vending machine will last longer and give you more bonuses.
Fights are more dynamic as well as enemies will pick up weapons. You can smash objects more easily now and also get kicked out of stores if you do way too much damage. There is also extreme heat mode now which means that the more heat orbs you fill up the more powerful your attacks will be.
The world is a lot more seamless and immersive as well. You can take selfies out and change the expression of Kiryu. You can walk in first person mode and feel like you are walking in Japan. Loading times now are only used for loading up cutscenes and now buildings you can just go in and out without having to deal with load times. Which is really good compared to the previous games I have played in the series.
The game gives you a lot of stuff to do. Like going to the arcade playing both retro sega games from Yakuza 0. To more modern ones like Puyo or Virtua fighter 5. It also adds new minigames like going to a bar and socializing with the regulars. And helping them solve their problems in sub stories while you get closer to them. There is also spear fishing which is on rails shooting like another SEGA game House Of The Dead.
You can help run a cat café. And find cats all over the in game locations by feeding them food and they will eventually reach the café once you earn their friendship. This is one of the cutest parts of the game.
Older ones for example like baseball,darts,hostess clubs and karaoke make a return and are overhauled to fit the more modernized setting of the game.
Vending machines you can select a variety of drinks and each has its own bonus like drinking water will make Kiryu sober. Or give a temporary xp bonus.
The substories in the game are as funny as ever. Like one where Kiryu has to be a mascot to promote Onomichi. Or one based off the anime movie The Girl Who Lept Through Time.
It still suffers from some of series down sides to it.
The objectives can be redundant. And you have to go back tracking from one place to the next just finish one simple objective.
There is parts of the game despite its highly immersive nature where there is invisible walls and blocked areas.
It still is annoying having enemies chase you from time to time. As I mentioned you can thankfully evade from fights now.
The clan creator mini game while fun is also pretty shallow and it should have taken more time into it. And one more thing. You better have the patience of a saint as there is the one part in the game where you have to calm down Haruto from crying and do various movements with the controller.
This is one of the best games of the series I find it to be.
So I will give it 4 stars.
If you enjoy the series and beat em ups you would enjoy this game.