April 15, 2024

The 12 months has gotten off to a roaring begin for followers of sprawling, intricate role-playing video games. And certainly one of our agency favorites is Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the ninth mainline installment of Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios’ long-running sequence. In it, the sentient meme manufacturing unit Kazuma Kiryu groups up with the relentlessly upbeat Ichiban Kasuga to unravel a globe-spanning conspiracy that unites a Hawaiian cult, Ichiban’s long-lost mom, a vindictive V-Tuber, and the fractured remnants of Japan’s legal underworld.

Now that Infinite Wealth’s been out for a short time, Kotaku checked in with Chief Producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto to seek out out extra about some preliminary ideas that didn’t make the ultimate recreation, the method of constructing an in-depth sim inside an RPG, and what’s subsequent for the sequence as a complete.

Picture: Sega

Working class heroes

As was the case with 2020’s Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Infinite Wealth’s job system manages to be each hilarious and strategically rewarding. However though Ichiban is a hardcore Dragon Quest fanboy, your occasion members don’t tackle conventional fantasy archetypes. As a substitute of knights and mages, Infinite Wealth’s jobs are largely pulled from the true world—assume surfer, chef, or dominatrix. However like Dragon Quest, these courses have distinctive strengths and weaknesses: pop idols dole out therapeutic and buffs, whereas surfers wield their longboards for crowd management and water-elemental harm. Swapping jobs can utterly alter a personality’s fight type, and every has distinctive animations and movesets. Every one of many 27 (!!!) distinctive job sorts ooze character at each second, and it’s abundantly clear that a complete lot of labor went into creating each single certainly one of them. Consider it or not, there have been plans for a number of extra jobs that didn’t make the ultimate lower.

“I’ve to say, there are lots of! Basketball gamers, couriers, and pest exterminators have been within the preliminary idea, however now we have omitted them in mild of the variability on this work,” Sakamoto tells Kotaku. “The enemies are additionally fairly distinctive characters with many particulars and distinctive ideas, which was a giant problem.”

With three intricate city environments to discover (Honolulu, Yokohama, and Kamurocho), you’ll by no means be in need of choices for issues to do in Infinite Wealth. However some of the compelling actions within the recreation is definitely getting away from all of it. It wouldn’t be a Like A Dragon recreation and not using a large, marquee minigame you could dump a dozen hours into, like managing a cabaret membership or turning into a real-estate tycoon. Infinite Wealth’s reply to that’s the Animal Crossing-inspired resort builder, Dondoko Island (dondoko means “all-time low” in Japanese). However as an alternative of cutesy-poo dollhouses straight out of Sylvanian Households or Sanrio, you’re constructing karaoke bars, noodle outlets, and soaplands.

For Sakamoto and the remainder of the RGG staff, there was no room for half-measures or a dumbed-down expertise. The result’s a grippy-yet-chill resort administration sim that allows you to rework a dump right into a dream vacation spot, and its alluring siren track will name to you even after you’ve rolled credit on the principle story.

“We determined to go all out with Dondoko Island with out making any reductions to the idea of resort island builder and simulator. We really spent a whole lot of time tuning it throughout its creation similar to including and subtracting components, adjusting the steadiness, and so forth,” says Sakamoto. “By way of the quantity of labor that went into it, I personally assume it’s the better of the facet video games in all the sequence.”

Ichiban crafts a coffee machine on his DIY workbench in the Dondoko Island minigame

Picture: Sega

Older and wiser

When you’re prepared to depart Dondoko and head again to civilization, you’ll discover a story with extra twists than a bucket of curly fries and loads of poignant moments. On the middle of all of it is Kiryu, the stoic protagonist of Yakuza 0-6, who finds himself at a significant crossroads. Not solely is he preventing most cancers, however all his family members assume he’s useless, due to a Faustian discount he made with a shadowy group often called the Daidoji Faction on the finish of Yakuza 6. Years later, he’s discovering he wants his family and friends simply as a lot as they wanted him. A lot of Infinite Wealth exhibits Kiryu studying to simply accept assist—and ultimately, asking for it.

“In Yakuza 6, Kiryu made the momentous resolution to vanish from the general public eye as an agent. Up till now, Kiryu had chosen a lifestyle by which he was keen to sacrifice himself for the sake of his household and buddies. Nonetheless, he keenly realized that though he had chosen such a lifestyle, his household and buddies had all the time been his emotional help,” Sakamoto elaborates. “Being sick throughout Yakuza: Like a Dragon precipitated Kiryu to re-examine his life with out placing others earlier than him for the very first time, which in flip precipitated him to vary his perspective to really face his household and buddies another way.”

Towards the tip of Infinite Wealth, Kiryu says to certainly one of his previous adversaries, “Even when I’m not as robust as I as soon as was, I’m nonetheless me. And I’m beginning to assume that’s not so unhealthy.” It’s a turning level for the character and the sequence as a complete—he’s embracing a special form of future, slightly than working from it. However on the identical time, he’s additionally passing the torch to Ichiban. So what does that imply for the inevitable subsequent installment of Like A Dragon? Sakamoto’s conserving that info near the chest for now, nevertheless it does appear sure that Ichiban will proceed to be the glad warrior, it doesn’t matter what comes his manner.

“I imagine that Ichiban has taken the teachings he realized from his newest quest and continues to assist individuals he meets within the ways in which he can,” says Sakamoto. “As for the Like a Dragon sequence, we hope to proceed to shock and entertain you, so please keep tuned for what’s in retailer!”


Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is out now on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.

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