Yakuza 6 has aspects of a fighting game, an open-world explorer and a story-driven role-playing game, but it doesn’t really fit in any of those genres. It’s its own thing, and that means learning how to play it, to get used to its rhythms and quirks. We’ve beaten the game, and this is what we’ve learned. Once you’ve got the basics down, check out our more detailed guides to learn more about the rest of the game.
It’s mostly cutscenes
The first thing to know when you start Yakuza 6 is that you have to think of it like a movie first and a game second. No, seriously. It is conservatively 65 percent cutscenes. They’re skippable, but then you’d be missing out on the best parts of the game. There are no dialogue options. There are no branching storylines. You’re just watching, and that’s OK.
There’s a rhythm to the game that takes a long time to adjust to. You’ll watch a long cutscene, have a brief, intense fight, watch some more cutscenes, and then you walk to the next cutscene at your own pace. It’s a weird mix of linear and open-world gameplay, but that pattern repeats throughout the game.
You can start with Yakuza 6
Like we said in our review, Yakuza 6 is very welcoming to new players. There’s plenty of exposition and context to get you up to speed. There are synopses of the previous five games (there aren’t recaps of Yakuza 0 or the spinoffs) right on the main menu, and the beginning even involves a literal walk down memory lane.
Exploration is (mostly) about getting to the next cutscene
When a cutscene ends, your only real goal is to get to the place that triggers the next cutscene. There are a lot of distractions — games, shops, restaurants, trouble missions and substory missions — as you walk through town to your next story mission, and it can get overwhelming.
The way to handle this is to decide what to do and only do that. The only part of Yakuza 6 that’s required is the main story — you can ignore everything else until you’re ready. The distractions and side missions have their purpose — they make the cities feel more lived-in and earn you experience points — but you should only visit them when you want to. If you try to do everything, it’s going to feel disjointed and shallow. If, on the other hand, you use the distractions as something to break up watching (intense) cutscenes and huge fights, you’ll have a lot fun with them.
It’s kind of an RPG, but it kind of doesn’t matter
You can’t customize Kiryu’s appearance or do most of the things you’d expect from a traditional RPG, but you do earn experience points (EXP) and unlock stats, abilities and skills. You’re not really going to specialize in any one stat, though. You’re just going to get better at punching in new and exciting ways.
And you’re going to earn enough EXP by the end of the game (even only playing the main story) to unlock just about every stat and ability available. That means you don’t have to worry about the choices you make — it’s less about what you unlock and more about the order. If you spend any time on substories or earning awards, you’ll be more than powerful enough by the time you finish Yakuza 6.