Why Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Shaping up to be One of the Biggest Games of 2024

In the not-too-distant past, the Yakuza series looked like it was losing its audience. PlayStation exclusive Yakuza 5 had to be localised by Sony themselves as its publisher’s interest in the series had waned. The Japanese company took the brave step further and brought the game to audiences in the US and Europe, with the global gaming community receiving Yakuza’s fifth mainline entry with open arms. The excellent Yakuza 6: The Song of Life followed before the series’ first major shakeup in the form of Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon.

Principal in these changes was a new series protagonist – the plucky underdog Ichiban Kasuga – and the switch to RPG-like turn-based combat. The game explored the clean streets and seedy underbelly of Yokohama too, a departure from series mainstay locale Kamurocho.

Originally derided before Like a Dragon released, those changes to the established Yakuza formula proved to be ultra-successful. The fantastic new characters and engaging, emotional story made Like a Dragon one of the best-received Yakuza entries ever. Now, with Yakuza OG Kazuma Kiryu returning as a playable character (alongside a host of other returnees), a new setting in the tropical climbs of Hawaii, and a smorgasbord of side-quests and minigames Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is shaping up to be one of the biggest games of 2024, and perhaps even an early game of the year contender. It’s status as one of the most anticipated games of 2024 at The Game Awards is not without merit, and here’s why…

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First up, the series has never been in healthier shape. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name ushered in the new era upon its release this November just gone. Effectively a side-story filling in the gaps in Kazuma Kiryu’s timeline before his appearance in Like a Dragon, the game presented fans with opportunity to rethrow Kiryu’s bone-shattering fists, only this time in two distinct fighting styles, Yakuza and Agent, the latter being a more precise, clinical form of brawling owing to Kiryu – now going by the alias Joryu – faking his death at the end of Yakuza 6 before reappearing in society as a secret agent for this spinoff.

Kiryu’s combat style is a key refinement in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s fighting. Yes, he’s still going to partake in turn-based brawling, but a new mechanic dubbed ‘Dragon’s Resurgence’ will allow Kiryu to temporarily switch to a new stance with accompanying beat ‘em up combat system, transforming him into the legendary fighter we all remember in what is a clear throwback to Yakuza’s ex-fighting style. In fact, Kiryu will come equipped with three distinct combat stances, each reportedly paying homage to his prowess as a bare-knuckle brawler.

For his part in the street fighting action, Ichiban will continue to embrace the hero job class, wielding his character-specific electrified baseball bat with skull crushing power. Area damage, healing party members, curing status effects, and buffing allies will also be present in his capabilities.

Developer Ryu ga Gotoku Studio have clearly learned from the occasional lack of depth in Like a Dragon’s RPG-like combat; adding multiple combat stances is just one facet of a more dynamic approach. For instance, character positioning feels much more integral to the fighting in Infinite Wealth, with the alignment between character and target having a bigger impact on the amount of damage dealt.

like a dragon infinite wealth

New characters joining the combat party exhibit their own brand of brawling. Heiress job equipped Chitose adds versatility in the form of dance move inspired grappling attacks. Taxi driver turned mage Eric Tomizawa injects an element of humour into his elemental attacks, perhaps standing in for Like a Dragon’s Nanba and his hilarious pigeon-based special moves.

Speaking of Nanba, he’s one of a gluttony of returning characters in Infinite Wealth, both from its predecessor Like a Dragon and the Yakuza series at large. Ichiban’s gang gets back together, with Nanba returning alongside Koichi Adachi and Saeko Mukoda. Former Yokohama Liumang leader Tianyou Zhao is back, as are Jingweon Mafia affiliates Joon-gi Han and Seonhee.

Great news for Like a Dragon fans too as all these returning characters will be playable. On Kiryu’s side, legacy Yakuza characters reappearing in this latest iteration include but not limited to Goro Majima, Daigo Dojima, Taiga Saejima, and Shun Akiyama. There’s no word yet on whether these characters will be playable party members, but fingers crossed we’ll get to take command of them in some shape or form.

All of this back-street action takes place against the sunny climate of Hawaii, a massive overhaul of Yakuza’s usual settings. It’s sun-drenched concrete, contrast, and clean edges evokes a city akin to Crazy Taxi. And, speaking of Crazy Taxi, one of the games side activities is an Uber Eats style delivery service whereby Ichiban is tasked with providing food to hungry customers dotted along the sidewalks. Like a Dragon’s can collecting activity was amongst its best diversions, but this frantic delivery service – with tricks, drifts, and grinds – just might edge it.

The developer is ploughing the furrows of their back catalogue for some more of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s side content. Chief among the arcade splendour is Bass Fishing, Virtua Fighter 3tb, and SpikeOut, with the latter appearing on console for the first time in almost twenty years. But wait there are even more side activities this time around. Even more madcap is Dondoko Island, a sort of spoof of Animal Crossing. Of course, karaoke and darts also serve ample distraction from Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s main storyline.

like a dragon infinite wealth

And of that main storyline, if the ten-minute story trailer didn’t clue you in, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will be the largest Like a Dragon game ever. In describing its size Ryu ga Gotoku Studio have playfully dubbed this latest entry ‘monster-class’. If it weren’t for the seriously strong side content, there’s a danger Infinite Wealth could simply be too big, especially seeing as there seems to be a trend emerging for more streamlined open world experiences.

Well, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is set to buck the trend. In that story trailer we learn that Ichiban is in Hawaii to find his mother, whilst Kiryu is in paradise on holiday. However, we also learn Kiryu is battling cancer. With the sheer size of Infinite Wealth and extensive cast of returning characters, we can’t help thinking that this might just be the Dragon of Dojima’s swansong. Even Kson, the voice actress for new character Kei – a long-time Yakuza and Like a Dragon fan – fears for Kiryu’s future.

One thing is for sure, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth promises to bind larger-than-life humour with emotional story telling. There’s still plenty we don’t know, but we’ve not too long to wait. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is launching to PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC worldwide on January 26th.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

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