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Yakuza sequels will be turn-based while Judgment focuses on action, Sega says

Two roads diverged in Yokohama

Kasuga Ichiban hitting an enemy in the face with a baseball bat wrapped with barbed wire in Yakuza: Like a Dragon Image: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio/Sega
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Sega’s Yakuza games will continue on as turn-based role-playing games, as established by last year’s entry, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, while the franchise’s Judgment spinoff games will focus on street-brawling real-time action. Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku’s executive director Toshihiro Nagoshi confirmed the split direction for the Yakuza franchise during a livestream on Friday, saying that his studio plans to further refine what makes each series great.

“For Yakuza: Like A Dragon, we changed the game’s battle system from action into a turn-based RPG,” Nagoshi said during a Q&A session after the announcement of Lost Judgment, a new game in the larger Yakuza franchise. “This was a huge challenge for us, but it was well-received which we were thrilled to hear. We did discuss the possibility of developing the battle system further for our next title, and while we may pursue the turn-based system even outside the Yakuza series, the conclusion we ended up at was that because this is a different series, the best approach would be to keep them separate and refine what makes each series great.

“It’s my hope that our customers feel the same way we do. That’s why we chose ‘action’ as an important keyword for the Judgment series.”

Lost Judgment, a sequel to 2019’s detective thriller Judgment, will feature a greater emphasis on action than the original PlayStation 4 game. Protagonist Takayuki Yagami will return armed with three fighting styles in the sequel, and he’ll have more active abilities during his investigations. Gameplay of Lost Judgment showed Yagami climbing up buildings, wall running, and leaping from ledges, as well as refined stealth-based gameplay.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon upended the series’ traditional beat-’em-up action for turn-based gameplay inspired by Square Enix’s Dragon Quest role-playing games. It was a major diversion for the previously action-focused Yakuza franchise, so much so that when Sega first showed off Yakuza: Like A Dragon, it was widely believed to be an April Fools’ Day joke. However, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio pulled the genre switch off; in our review of the game, we said Like A Dragon reinvigorates the Yakuza franchise while retaining the essence of its predecessors.

Yakuza fans hoping for future action-oriented titles may still have something to look forward to, however. Daisuke Sato, head of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, recently expressed interest in remakes of Yakuza Kenzan! and Yakuza Ishin!, a pair of historical spinoffs that were released only in Japan in 2008 and 2014, respectively. Sato praised the action in those spinoffs as some of the best in the series.

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