Yakuza: Like a Dragon's eccentric cast
6 tips you need to know before starting Yakuza: Like A Dragon
The latest Yakuza game changes the formula from the past titles quite a lot – and there are a few essential tricks you need to know in order to get ahead in this fascinating RPG
Written by Dom Peppiatt
Published on
Ever since Sega launched Yakuza 0 in early 2017, the series has really taken off in the West. We've had three years to go back and enjoy the original protagonist Kazuma Kiryu's story which culminated with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Now, developer RGG Studio is doing something different and introducing us to Ichiban Kasuga – the new main character – for a soft reboot of the franchise.
The latest game in the Yakuza series – and a fully-fledged RPG, at that – does a lot of things differently. It still has the heart and the goofy humour the franchise is known for, but a new battle system and a wholly new crew of characters set the game apart from its predecessors quite a lot.
Even if you're a veteran of the series, then, you may enter this game with very little idea of how to progress or capitalise on the various mechanics at play. Read on to learn a few essential tricks you should digest before starting up the game.

1. Find EXP bonus combo meals

Beer, octopus and noodles will help you gain more EXP
Though you may start levelling your characters and their jobs quite early into the game, you'll soon notice growth progress slows to a crawl. Around Chapter 3 or 4, then, you're going to want to start boosting your earned experience however you can.
The best way to do this is by heading to Yoronotaki on N Isezaki Road. Here, you'll be able to purchase three combo meals that stack and give you an EXP boost for your next three battles. Make your way to the location and purchase the following items, all in a single transaction:
  • Sashimi Platter (5 items) + Edamame + Draft Beer (Medium)
  • Handpicked Vinegar Mackerel + Skewer Platter + Bakuhai (Whisky + Beer)
  • Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts + Salted Yakisoba (with Sichuan Chili Oil) + Gyokuro Green Tea Shochu
It'll come to ¥4,540 overall. Though that may be quite a lot early on in the game, you'll soon be making enough money to afford these dishes frequently. Eat the meal as often as you can, and prioritise a trip to Yoronotaki before boss battles, since that's when you're going to get the biggest chunks of experience. Even multiplying your EXP by 1.2 is better than no modifier at all!

2. Abuse Fast Travel

Cabs will save you a lot of time in Yakuza: Like a Dragon
The vast majority of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is set in the Yokohama district of Isezaki Ijincho. Though Kamurocho and Sotenbori (familiar locales for past Yakuza players), you're mostly going to be unpicking gangster intrigue in Yokohama. It's a fairly big place, too, and getting around can be tough if you don't want to be fighting off 'super jittery men' for most of your play time.
As such, it's smart to abuse the Taxi system. Simply interacting with a Taxi in any given location will open up that area's Fast Travel access. Chances are much of the map will open up organically as you progress through the game (don't wander into high-level areas before you're ready – you'll be mugged!) so to make cleaning up side missions and so on later even easier, you're going to want quick points of access between areas.
Simply put: interact with every Taxi you see as soon as you see it.

3. Do every Substory

Polish off every Substory you can to unlock helpful items and contacts
Yakuza has always been known for its heart, and the way it manages to weave all sorts of weirdos and vagabonds into its protagonist's life. Like a Dragon, expectedly, is no different – some of the most memorable and touching moments in the game originate off the beaten path a little bit.
Some side stories open up key mechanics – whether it's the Pokemon-inspired enemy categorisation system, the Crafting mechanic, the Part-Time Hero side-quest or special Summons you can call upon in battle, it's worth exploring every possible Substory that comes up.
To make it easier to find them, and not miss any, explore the entire map as soon as you're able. Then – when you start each new chapter or open a new Substory – a small dialogue icon will appear on the map. You should usually be able to Taxi to close by, too, if you followed the last step in this guide.

4. Do every Treasure Hunt you can

Yakuza Like a Dragon Treasure Hunt
A Platinum Plate is worth 200,000 Yen, so get searching
One of the first mechanics the game will teach you is the Treasure Hunt skill. You simply need to stand next to a vending machine or pile of trash and hit Square/X in order to search for 'treasure'.
Though this may seem pretty useless at first – you're mostly going to be finding ¥10 or ¥100 coins – it's very likely you will soon hit the jackpot. There's a small (but not insignificant) chance your hunt may result in a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or – if you're very lucky – Platinum plates. Once you've unlocked the Benten Pawn Shop on Misaki Street, you can sell these to build up some impressive cash reserves.
Weapons, upgrades and even eating can really start to eat into your savings in this game, so it's worth making a run of practically the whole map every chapter or so in order to Treasure Hunt every possible spot. Even if you only bring in ¥200,000 for your efforts, that's a new weapon or two – or a fully upgraded Dragon Kart vehicle.

5. Save, Save, Save!

Save before you do anything in Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Though there is an Auto-Save system baked into the game, you may often want to commit manual saves in new slots, too. You may sometimes run into roving street gangs that are much higher than your level, and if they manage to defeat Kasuga, they take half his money. Typically, the Auto-Save only kicks in once you're beaten, too – bear that in mind.
Otherwise, you're going to want to save before big expenditures. Ounabara Vocational School (which you can access from Chapter 4) is a great way to quickly level up your social stats... if you're smart. If you're shelling out ¥100,000 for a Trivia test, say, and mess it up, you can simply reload your game and take the test again. That way, you'll save face and an extra ¥100,000. Smart, eh?

6. Don't neglect the Survive karaoke bar

Yakuza: Like a Dragon Survive Karaoke bar, interior
Drinking with your party members is essential to progression
As you start to build a party, you'll begin forging bonds with the various friends you start to make. Whether it's Adachi the grizzled cop or Nanba the down-and-out nurse, you'll need to get closer to these people in order to unlock new jobs and story beats.
Each character's relationship bar gets locked towards the end of each level, and when that happens any world events, restaurant trips or battles won't count towards increasing your friendship. In order to remove that lock, simply hit up the Survive karaoke bar (unlocked in Chapter 4) and take part in a Drink Link to advance their level and make any progress you earn from then on actually count. Otherwise, you'll be wasting precious events on a bar that doesn't move – and nobody wants that.