RGG Studio says you don’t need to play previous Yakuza games to enjoy Gaiden

Like a Dragon Gaiden promises to be a fun experience, even for those who are new to the franchise.

For those wondering if it’s required to play all the previous Yakuza games to understand Like a Dragon Gaiden, RGG Studio said that’s not the case.

Gaiden is an upcoming spin-off of the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series, and it follows Kazuma Kiryu as he assumes his new identity “Joryu.” The game is set between the events of Yakuza 6 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and its story happens after the pivotal ending of Yakuza 6.

Without getting into spoiler territory, newer players to the series may feel daunted with jumping right into Gaiden. After all, given that it is set after Yakuza 6, some might think that the other games in the series must be played to understand what will happen.

Thankfully, that is not the case as RGG Studio Masayoshi Yokoyama recently shared in an interview with members of the SEA gaming press. There, he mentioned that while it would be great to have experience with previous games, it is not necessary to play them to understand the game.

“There really isn’t a specific need to have past experience with the previous titles,” said Yokoyama. “It would probably be a good experience if you’ve already played Yakuza: Like a Dragon, but it’s not a necessity. There really isn’t a need because the story is developed in a way where it’s going to lead you on to the next big title without having to know the, for example, the Yakuza 6 timeline.”

Yokoyama’s explanation shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, while the games have a clear storyline and continuity, each title can function as a standalone story. In fact, given that Gaiden is not exactly a mainline entry, it might be an even better starting point for those who want to get into the series.

Though it’s interesting that Yokoyama noted that playing Yakuza: Like a Dragon (or Yakuza 7) can make players appreciate Gaiden even more. After all, Like a Dragon’s story is set after Gaiden, so it’ll be interesting to see how they will tie up.

But for those who haven’t played Yakuza 7, they won’t have to worry as Yokoyama also noted that there wont’ be any returning characters from the previous titles.

“Since [Gaiden] is a brand-new game, having returning characters come in all the time is a bit uninteresting and a bit dull from our perspective,” said Yokoyama. “Although fans can enjoy that, it’s about having that freshness come into the game as well. If people want to enjoy the game with past characters, they can enjoy the past titles and have the full experience there. But in terms of the new game, everything will be new.”

While no previous characters will return, a familiar sight that will make a comeback is Sotenbori, one of the cities in Yakuza 0, Kiwami 2, Yakuza 5, and Yakuza 7. Though what’s different here is that the series’ signature location of Kamurocho will not be in Gaiden. Instead, the game will be mostly set in Sotenbori, with some quick side trips to Isezaki Ijincho (though it’s not where most of the story happens).

“When it comes to location, [Sotenbori was choses as] it fits the story and the story progression well. Another side note is that Isezaki Ijincho is not actually one of the main locations,” said Yokoyama.

Like a Dragon Gaiden will be released on November 9, 2023, on the PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

Meanwhile, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is set to release in early 2024 for the same platforms.