While there’s not a lot you can do to customize Yakuza 6’s protagonist Kiryu (and why would you want to?), you do choose which of his abilities level up in which order. The system by which you do this is familiar enough to anyone who has played a role-playing game, but there’s a twist on it that makes it feel more confusing than it is.
Like you probably expect, you unlock improved stats and skills by earning experience points (or EXP). In Yakuza 6, though, these experience points come in five categories and each of the stats you unlock have costs that draw from a combination of those five flavors — strength, agility, spirit, technique and charm. Below, we’ll talk about the kinds of experience and how to earn them, as well as the stats and skills you’ll spend them on.
The five categories of experience are strength, agility, spirit, technique and charm. In broader terms, these categories boil down to punching, ducking, health, wisdom and charisma. Any task you complete — from a story mission to beating up street toughs or eating a snack — will earn you experience points in some combination of these categories. The experience you’ve will pop up in the upper right corner of the screen, or you can check it in the stats menu on your phone.
Which categories the experience you get falls into depends on the task. Beating up random thugs on the street, for example, will earn you strength, agility and spirit experience, but not technique or charm. Delivering a present to someone, on the other hand, will earn you charm and technique, but not strength.
Just about everything you do in Yakuza 6 besides walking around will earn you EXP. (And sometimes even just walking around will earn you points when you get awards.) Those include:
- Story missions and sub-story missions. The primary way you’ll earn EXP is through the main story and sub-story missions. Main story missions give you a lot of EXP, while the sub-story missions only give you a moderate amount. This EXP tends to be spread across all categories.
- Random encounters. Kamurocho and Onomichi are full of roving gangs of street thugs. Whenever you fight them, you’ll earn a few EXP (mostly in strength and agility).
- Troublr. Over the course of the game, you’ll get a new app on your phone named Troublr. The point of this app is to just give you quick tasks to help people around town. These tasks are quick (but distracting), but will reward you with some EXP spread across the five categories (depending on the task).
- Eating. Each item of food and drink that you consume will grant you some EXP. You can see the categories of EXP in the item’s description. Eating or drinking fills up your stomach, so you can only do this occasionally.
- Awards. Awards are like achievements (but they’re not Achievements). You’ll get them for doing things like sprinting for a total of 5 km or entertaining yourself five times. You can see the awards you’ve earned and others available in the awards menu on your phone.
Stats and skills
Once you earn experience points, it’s time to spend them. When you open up the stats menu on your phone, you’ll have four categories of stats and skills to unlock.
- Stats. These are your base stats. You can boost your health (hit points), attack (punching), defense (taking punches), evasion (dodging punches) and heat gauge (super-charged punches). Spend your points here to just generally make Kiryu more prepared. Certain battle skills and heat actions have a stat prerequisite.
- Battle skills. Battle skills are basically fancy fighting techniques. Everything from leaping attacks to splash damage to specialized blocks fall into this group. Most of these skills require a hefty number of technique EXP to unlock.
- Heat actions. As Kiryu fights, he fills up a special gauge that lets him temporarily power up his attacks — the heat gauge. Unlocking these heat actions expands the available attacks and moves during these super-charged moments.
- Other skills. Other skills is the miscellaneous and basics category. Here you can unlock skills that increase how fast you earn EXP in each category, how much EXP you get from meals and how fast you digest them, increase your alcohol tolerance or make making friends at the bar easier.
Stats and skills that matter
The first thing to know is you’ll end up with a lot of experience points even without actively seeking them out — enough that you’ll be able to unlock the vast majority of stats and skills by the end of Yakuza 6. That means you won’t be unlocking or upgrading any one aspect at the expense of another. Choosing what to upgrade is more a question of priority than a zero-sum choice. These three are our top suggestions:
- Start off with your basic stats. You’re going to be using them constantly, and you’ll need to level them up some to even be able to unlock some of the battle skills. Try to keep them relatively even, but health, strength and agility are the skills that you’ll use the most.
- Boost EXP Gain (at the top of the other skills list). This just means you’ll earn points faster to unlock even more skills. We suggest prioritizing experience categories that are lagging behind the others to keep Kiryu well-rounded. These skills get expensive as you get to the higher levels, though, so you don’t have to max them out immediately.
- Always improve fighting abilities with battle skills. After increasing the strength base stat, this is the way to make Kiryu better at fighting. Every skill in this category is useful, so just buy any of them that you can every chance you get.
- Heat actions are very flashy, powerful and entertaining moves. But you can only use them when you activate Kiryu’s extreme heat mode. While the gauge fills relatively quickly and you’ll use it often, it also drains quickly and the opportunities to actually use it are uncommon. While useful, heat actions shouldn’t be your highest priority when unlocking skills.
Everything else is kind of optional, honestly. The cabaret club, making friends at bars and the clan battles are completely optional activities. You tend to have to put in work to find them (we didn’t even know the cabaret club existed until after we’d finished the main story) and they take up a lot of your time. Unless you’re planning on playing these optional mini-games, you shouldn’t be spending points on the associated skills — boost clan member growth, ladies’ man and the art of converstation at the bottom of the other skills list. Each of these skills have several levels, so avoiding them until you’re actually doing those activities — if you ever do — will free up a lot of points for other things.