RGG hosted their fall games Direct as a follow-up to the RGG Summit that took place earlier this year, and with it came a ton of new information focused mostly on Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. Infinite Wealth seems to be shaping up into one of RGG’s biggest games yet, and with Gaiden releasing in November to serve as a prelude or bridge to Infinite Wealth’s story, Yakuza fans are about to get a lot of new content to play. RGG hosted their Direct on YouTube, which featured about forty minutes of new information and trailers for both games. I’d like to specifically discuss both of the new trailers showcased for Infinite Wealth. The story trailer in particular is a doozy…
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Story Trailer
Where to even start with this one? This trailer confirms that the game will at least partly take place in Hawaii and confirms that both Ichiban and Kiryu will share the spotlight as protagonists. Party members will be split up between Kiryu and Ichiban and the story will take place in both the US and Japan. It’s unclear how the game will handle the party split – my personal guess, and hope, is that Ichiban and Kiryu trade off story chapters Yakuza 0 style. If that ends up being the case, this game will be absolutely massive, spanning two countries and two protagonist story lines. From the looks of the video, it’s shaping up to be another classic wacky Ichiban adventure, except this time with an added dash of sadness.
About halfway through the trailer, Kiryu drops an emotional bomb when he reveals to Ichiban and one of the potential new party members that he has been battling with cancer. I expected Kiryu to finally be retired after Infinite Wealth, but I certainly wasn’t expecting… that. Throughout the rest of the trailer we can see the effects of Kiryu’s illness, he’s noticeably skinnier, his hair has grayed and has lost a lot of its body. Besides his newly revealed sickness, Kiryu is an older man at this point, and RGG is changing his appearance to reflect that. Infinite Wealth will build on the kinship of Kiryu and Ichiban that was formed in Yakuza: Like a Dragon from Ichiban’s brief but memorable first meeting with Kiryu. The whole trailer has that feeling of passing the torch and, while Ichiban will definitely have some crazy adventures, there’s an underlying feeling of tragedy. Tragedy is something that we Yakuza fans have come to except from the series, but somehow it still always surprises me.
Kiryu mentions that he wants Ichiban to handle the future, while he tackles the Yakuza’s past, a line that is meant to express the future of these games to the players. While it’s unclear if Kiryu will be able to beat his illness and recover, it is clear that he needs a successor. Who better than Ichiban, the Rock Bottom Dragon, who rose up from the worst parts of Kamurocho and still maintains the spark of a hero. I’m mentally preparing myself for a tragic ending with Kiryu where he doesn’t get to see Haruka, Haruto, or the kids from Morning Glory again. Lots of people believe that Infinite Wealth will embody one big “passing of the torch” and I don’t disagree. The trailer definitely gives off that message and I think, no matter which way the ending goes, Kiryu will be successful in imparting the spirit of the dragon to Ichiban.
While Kiryu is my favorite character in the series and one of my most memorable game protagonists, I really do love Ichiban. While he gets caught up in wacky adventures, he can be serious and charismatic when the moment requires it, and is very intelligent. It looks like he’ll be in the middle of yet another huge plot that he’ll help uncover, this time seemingly involving a Yakuza presence in Hawaii. Ichiban has traveled to the United States to search for his long lost mother, but it seems he’ll find way more than he set out to in the end. There’s so much to unpack with the new characters and locations that I don’t know where to start, but it’s certain that it’ll be another massive Yakuza plot. Daigo, Majima, and Saejima make a return and seem to be running into some trouble after the Tojo Can and Omi Alliance disbanded in the last game. This might have to do with Sawashiro, former right hand man to Ichiban’s father, attempting to revive the clan.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Gameplay Trailer
Putting aside all the emotional damage this game will probably cause me, judging by what we’ve seen in this new gameplay trailer, it’s going to be a lot of fun! The in-game version of Hawaii looks beautiful with meticulous details and what the trailer calls a “dynamic weather system,” which I’m excited to experience and that I hope will also apply to Ijincho and Kamurocho. Minigames are of course making a return with many beloved classics, such a Karaoke, and new exciting ones like the crazy pizza delivery game that looks a lot like the can collection game from Like a Dragon. The crew gets new songs to sing during Karaoke, but there’s some nostalgic callbacks as well. Kiryu reprises his role as Judgement Kazzy to sign an updated version of his self-described favorite song, Judgement! There’s also the Hawaiian Tours, which seem to be tourist packages that Ichiban can participate in as a way to learn new jobs. In particular, I’m looking forward to trying out Samurai, Geo Dancer, and Action Star.
Speaking of combat, turn-based action is back with some improvements. Party members will be able to move on their turns, thus allowing them to adjust to a more advantageous location. Kiryu, in true Kiryu fashion, will be able to break the system altogether and change the combat into a beat ’em up for a limited time during his turn. I think this is a fantastic way to allow Kiryu to keep his signature fighting styles, and it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s also a cool detail that both protagonists dictate combat the way they want it – Ichiban imagines everything as a turn-based RPG battle and Kiryu likes to punch thugs in real time with his fists.
Poundmates is back with some very interesting additions! Making a return for the first time since Yakuza 3 is Kaoru Sayama, the Tokyo cop who worked with and fell in love with Kiryu, and ultimately left for America. I can’t wait to see what happens with her and if we’ll get to see her interact with Kiryu after so many years apart. Date and Akiyama also return as Poundmates, two series veterans that I’m always glad to see. While Date has been in every game since Yakuza 1, Akiyama was absent in the last gmae and I’m hoping we get a chance to see what he’s been up to. Nancy-Chan, the crawfish Ichiban rescued from the clutches of a hungry fisherman, also returns, as well as a woman who seems to be related to Gary Buster Holmes! Hopefully, all these characters will at least have substories dedicated to them.
We haven’t heard anything that specifically addresses if a business side story will be in the game, but I think there will be. The trailer mentions Ichiban needing to work his way up from the bottom, and shows him doing a bunch of odd jobs. Also, Eri isn’t present at all in either of the Infinite Wealth trailers shown, and my guess is that she’s hanging back in Japan managing Ichiban Holdings. I hope she shows up at some point, and Ichiban gets to further his business career.
My Final Thoughts
I think Infinite Wealth is going to be a great game, and I’m excited to try my best following along with the crazy plot as it unfolds. At the same time, it’ll be a very emotional story for Kiryu. While I hope he’s able to get his peaceful retirement and live out the rest of his days at Morning Glory Orphanage in Okinawa, I also realize that this is a Yakuza game and “tragedy” is its middle name. However, RGG did a great job developing Ichiban as the new series protagonist and I have no doubt that he will be able to carry the torch forward. He’s a lovable meathead with a heart of gold and fierce loyalty to his friends, and I look forward to seeing more of his character development. The game will be a tropical adventure with equal parts comedy and tragedy, and January 26th can’t come fast enough.
I haven’t touched on Gaiden mostly because it isn’t a full-length Yakuza game and there’s less to pick apart. I’m just as excited to play it as I am for Infinite Wealth, though, and it is a very important part of the series. Gaiden will help us make sense of Yakuza 6’s ending, and explain why Kiryu was seemingly operating on his own in Yakuza 7. The opening cinematic for the game was unveiled along with the Infinite Wealth trailers at RGG Direct, and the feel reminds me so much of Kiryu’s entrance in Yakuza 5. In both games, Kiryu is forced to stay away from his family for their safety, and he’s obviously depressed. The guy has been working for so long to do right by those he cherishes, and you can really see the effects of that in the trailer. The game comes out on November 9th this year, and I can’t wait to get some answers.