Yakuza: Like a Dragon Xbox Series X Impressions

November 8, 2020

It was only relatively recently that I was introduced to and played a Yakuza game for the first time. In fact, that first experience was my review of Yakuza Kiwami, a fantastic remake of the first game in the franchise. Now, three years and a myriad of current generation releases later, the series has shifted away from the exploits of Kazuma Kiryu and into a new chapter following a new protagonist and moving to a turn-based RPG combat system. Titled Yakuza: Like a Dragon in the West, the game is also a launch title for the Xbox Series X in what is no doubt a coup for Microsoft. How does Yakuza: Like a Dragon perform on Xbox Series X? Read on to find out (and for a more in-depth review of the game on Xbox One, check out Adam’s review here).

Yakuza: Like a Dragon originally released in Japan almost 10 months ago now, so much of the game’s visuals are firmly rooted in the realm of the current generation of consoles. Environments are wonderfully detailed, main character models look great, and there’s some eye-catching effects in battle, but none of it looks overly ‘next-gen’ on the Xbox Series X. This isn’t to say it looks bad, it’s quite the opposite in fact, it just doesn’t scream next-generation graphics.

Where Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes advantage of the power of the Xbox Series X is largely in its reflections, which are of a decidedly higher quality on the more powerful console. They don’t seem to be using ray tracing for reflections, so don’t expect perfect mirror images in puddles, but they’re still nice to look at as you run around the game’s city environments. Beyond that, resolution and frame rate both get a bump on Xbox Series X in two of the games rendering modes: Normal and High Resolution.

Normal is what I chose to spend most of my time using, with the game rendering at 1440p with no dynamic resolution reductions and 60fps. It makes for a sharper image on the Xbox Series X compared to the Xbox One, while the boost in framerate makes the games so much smoother to play. High Resolution does away with the 60fps target, instead dropping to 30fps and moving to a native 4k resolution. You get a bump in image quality as part of this, but the difference was slight enough that the lowered framerate had me preferring Normal mode. There are some slight framerate drops in both modes, but this really only happens in battle when using particularly flashy attacks, so it didn’t really detract from the experience.

Outside of visuals, there is one other way Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes advantage of the power of the Xbox Series X: incredibly fast load times. Loading my save game on my Xbox One X took roughly 37 seconds, which isn’t too bad by the standards of many current games. Swapping over to Xbox Series X, that exact same save game took a paltry 5 seconds to load. In a world where I may only have sporadic moments to play games, the removal of that load time barrier is amazing.

Overall, Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s Xbox Series X version is a somewhat lesser upgrade compared to what we’ve seen from other cross-generation titles in trailers, but the focus on increasing framerate and keeping a stable resolution is a welcome one. It improves on a game that is already enjoyable, helping make this the definitive version of the game, and thanks to Smart Delivery you can bring your progress across from current- to next-gen without any hassle at all. If you’re a fan of the Yakuza franchise or are looking for a new turn-based RPG, this is pretty easy to recommend.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon was played on an Xbox Series X with a copy of the game provided by Xbox. It will also be available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 10th, with a PlayStation 5 version releasing on March 2, 2021. For more information, check the official website.