Playing Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth feels like walking into a restaurant where the staff already knows my order

The showstopper of my hands-on preview of Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth was a boss battle with a shark, so the series which has historically made me fistfight tigers, bears, and an excavator is not getting any less bombastic. It’s also not getting any smaller, developer RGG said, and during the hands-on preview session I was allowed to spend several hours exploring Honolulu City, a map bigger than Kamurocho, Sotenbori, or Yokohama have ever been. The goofballs quests and heart-wrenching main story haven’t changed here, I’m glad to see, so while Like A Dragon: Infinite wealth is definitely ‘just’ more Yakuza, it’s a lot more Yakuza.

(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku / Sega)

Infinite Wealth is diligently following the highway paved by Like A Dragon and all the changes it brought to the series formerly known as Yakuza. It’s a party-based and turn-based RPG with high melodrama interspersed with silly sidequests and more of everything else: more party, more map, more life-or-death plots, and even more minigames.

The party, for starters, is split between Like A Dragon’s good guy protagonist Ichiban and the classic series’ stoic leading man Kiryu who’s come back for one last ride—for real this time, probably. Fan favorite characters of Like A Dragon like Saeko, Nanba, and Seong-Hui (now playable) are hanging out in Yokohama with Kiryu while Ichiban makes new acquaintances in Honolulu. 

Even more characters are returning as playable party members from Like A Dragon, so the cast is stacked. During the portions I was able to play, party members were often shuffled around between groups, sometimes with Kiryu and Ichiban in the same party. As with past multi-protagonist and multi-city entries in the series, I suspect that most everyone will get their turn to flit between cities.

RGG said that Honolulu City is the biggest map it’s created for the series yet. I think I felt the scale most when I detoured into the Anaconda Shopping Center, a multi-level open air mall in which I nearly got lost. Yokohama’s Koreatown mall is a closet in comparison. If nothing else, I’ll get stuck there for hours playing minigames in the Anaconda Arcade.

(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku / Sega)

RGG certainly went for broke on the minigames this time around: There are returning favorites like karaoke of course, with new options including timed bike courier deliveries and a dating chat app for Ichiban to bumble through, but the Animal Crossing-like Dondoko Island is the big ticket item. 

Instead of the business management activities of Yakuza’s past, Ichiban finds his way into caretaking an uninhabited island and rehabbing it into a resort. It’s a bit scrappy, literally and figuratively. I’ve got to clear out rubbish all over the island to collect scraps for crafting furniture and decor items. The decorating mode itself is serviceable, with free placement on grid guidelines, though I did have some awkward frame stuttering while moving objects around on the PS5 version I played. There’s also spear fishing and bug catching to do on Dondoko Island and its own set of daily collection quests. It may not be the return of hostess club management that I’d dreamed of, but I’ve got a feeling I’ll dump a comparable amount of time into the island anyhow.

There are some more minor quality of life tweaks in Infinite Wealth as well that I picked up on after playing entirely too many of these games. Party side conversations are now marked on the map so I won’t be forced to roam the city at random hoping to hear Ichiban’s crew chat with one another. In addition to taxi fast travel, Ichiban can get around on an electric scooter called the Street Surfer, essentially a Segway, which I tricked out with special wheels and colors. 

(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku / Sega)

The battle system has gotten a little brush up with the ability to move each character more freely around as I’m choosing an attack. In Like A Dragon, enemies fidgeted around the fight area sort of at random, as did my own characters, meaning that splash damage or forward charge attacks could be a bit of a crapshoot. Infinite Wealth’s more free movement gives me a better chance of making those attacks matter.

It’s still Yakuza all the way down

Though Infinite Wealth marks the first time the series will ever be set outside Japan, Honolulu City is instantly familiar. RGG said that it visited Hawaii several times to work on creating an authentic new city, but Honolulu is really just a new color of paint that looks fine on Yakuza’s walls. 

(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku / Sega)

There are ABC stores instead of Poppo convenience joints and Hawaii’s actual Hilo Hattie instead of Japan’s Don Quijote. There’s a horrifying humanoid palm tree city mascot called Alo-Happy who, though not as cute as Onomichio’s charming hassaku face, will likely have his own hijinx sidequest. There’s a street corner bar for the party to frequent for their bonding chats—called Revolve Bar with a pistol because of course it is. Even the characters are on-brand. Please no one let this new lady Chitose with her privileged patriarch’s daughter upbringing ever be in the same room as Like A Dragon’s overachieving heir Zhao. And if there isn’t a sidequest involving a proxy for a famous singer, I’ll eat my hat.

I didn’t get a peek into the story beyond what we’ve already seen in trailers, but that alone has been so overflowing with melodrama that I’m confident Infinite Wealth will fit right in.

(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku / Sega)

It’s such a distinctly Yakuza recipe that my only remaining questions are which one of these weirdos has an underground bunker of mass surveillance in Honolulu, who’s got a secret twin sibling, and which big building the final boss fight is going to be staged on top of.

In a series where recycling the same cities, characters, and sidequests is like being a regular at a restaurant where you can order without ever looking at a menu, that’s a feature, not a bug. Yes, I would like all of my dramatic reflections on found family to be served with a side of street brawls. I’ve never come to the Yakuza series for surprises—I’m here to have my fragile little heart strings plucked and to play a hell of a lot of that arcade claw game.

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