Yakuza: Like a Dragon companions will unlock new team attacks, new abilities, new skills, and new jobs as their friendship with Ichiban Kasuga grows (via DualShockers).

Leaning heavily into its twist on the Yakuza formula, this new feature seems similar to the friendship system in Persona, one of Sega’s other published JRPGs. Kasuga can chill out with each of his companions which will increase their friendship level between the two characters. Raising the friendship level will lead to new abilities and new team attacks in its ‘live command RPG battle’ combat.

Each character’s relationship status will be shown in their Status menu, and players will be able to increase these through hangouts at the cinema, bars, or restaurants. While chatting, Kasuga will need say the right dialogue options to boost his friendship with the companion. It’s a very realistic system. When the friendship levels up, it will also lead to new skills and new jobs becoming available, which of course will lead to rewards like new items and new accessories. 

Then, ‘Friendship Drama’ events will pop up with each successive level. These will have characters confide in Kasuga about their anxieties or their mysterious pasts. If Kasuga is willing to help them out, their proficiency in battle will increase. Like I mentioned, a scarily accurate mechanic. ‘Friendship Attacks’ awarded from successfully completing  ‘Friendship Dramas’ are the greatest attacks possible in Yakuza 7. So, I guess friendship really is magic?

These totally new JRPG features are a risk for the Yakuza action game series, but Ryu Ga Gotoku said that the new game will be a ‘true successor’ to Yakuza Kiwami 2. The team behind Yakuza 7 have had put their own twist on classic RPG tropes, for example, mage, warrior, and bard have become Fortuneteller, Riot Police, and Idol.

Yakuza 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue launches for PlayStation 4 on January 16, 2020 in Japan, and later in 2020 for North America and Europe. 

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