Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Aug 142020

Questions about the order to play the Yakuza series come up routinely in Yakuza discussions, especially from new fans wondering which Yakuza game to start with.

Yakuza, or Ryu ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon) as it’s known in Japan, is a long-running brawler/action RPG series featuring intense crime drama storylines, wacky side quests, and a ton of fun mini-games.

There are currently 9 games in the main series, 6 localized spin-offs, and 4 spin-offs exclusive to Japan.

The series has now been rebranded to Like a Dragon in the west to match the Japanese title, and future games will use the Like a Dragon title.

In this post, I’ll be answering popular questions like “Which Yakuza game should I start with?”, “Can I start with Yakuza 7?”, “When should I play Dead Souls?”, “Where is Yakuza 8?” and “Is Yakuza Ishin ever going to be localized?” (the answer is YES).

The Yakuza game order is actually pretty straightforward, so let’s take a look.

Main Series Order

The original Yakuza and Yakuza 2 for the PS2 have been remade as Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2. Meanwhile, Yakuza 3-5 were remastered and bundled together as the Yakuza Remastered Collection.

Currently, all of these games are available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon has a PS5 version available as well.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is the western title for Yakuza 7, and it is the first game in the series to move away from brawler action RPG combat in favor of turn-based combat.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the next mainline title, despite not using the “Yakuza” title in the west. Yes, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Yakuza 8. Like its predecessor, it will be a turn-based JRPG. It will be out in 2024 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

There is also a live-action movie called Like a Dragon, which is an adaptation of the first game in the series due to that being the actual translation of the series title. The movie is not based on the game Yakuza: Like a Dragon or the upcoming Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth.

So, which Yakuza game should you start with?

Ideally you should play Yakuza 0 or Yakuza Kiwami first. Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the entire series, while Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the first game. I suggest you start with Yakuza 0, since Kiwami added content that references it, but either is fine.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a soft reboot for the series and stars a new protagonist, which means you should be able to start there if you want. However, it still follows the events of the seven games that precede it and contains some spoilers for earlier Yakuza games.

Now, can you skip any Yakuza games? Each game has its own standalone story, but they’re all connected and the characters grow and change over time. You can skip games if you must, but it’s not recommended.

To summarize: start with Yakuza 0 or Yakuza Kiwami and then play the rest of the games in numerical order.

Yakuza Spin-Offs

Now, let’s talk about the spin-offs. There are six localized Yakuza spin-offs:

Perhaps the most important of these to discuss is the newly-announced Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. This is a shorter game for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC that follows Kiryu, set after Yakuza 6. Until Infinite Wealth comes out, it is difficult to know how important Gaiden will be to the overall story.

(If it turns out that you need to play Gaiden before Infinite Wealth, or if Gaiden’s story is especially important to Infinite Wealth, I may move it up to be classified with the main series titles.)

However, if you do intend to play them all, Gaiden should be played after Yakuza: Like A Dragon. It contains major spoilers for both Yakuza 6 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Moving on, Yakuza: Dead Souls is a non-canon spin-off for the PS3 set during a zombie outbreak in Kamurocho. Since it’s not canon, you might think there’s no particular time when you should play Dead Souls, but it draws on content from up through Yakuza 4. For the best experience, save Dead Souls until you’ve finished Yakuza 4.

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise on the PS4 is the spin-off most fully removed from the Yakuza series, since it is a Fist of the North Star game that uses the Yakuza gameplay formula. It has no relation to the main series and can be played anytime.

Judgment is a detective spin-off set in Kamurocho, the same city where most of the series takes place. Judgment is canon and set after the events of Yakuza 6, but is a separate story and requires no knowledge of the Yakuza series. It will show changes in Kamurocho from later in the series, but you can play Judgment anytime.

Lost Judgment is the sequel to Judgment and takes place after the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. While it technically stands on its own, it builds on the events of Judgment and also spoils a significant event from Like a Dragon. If you intend to play both, you should play Like a Dragon before Lost Judgment.

Both Judgment games are now available for the PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. (Yes, Judgment is on PC now!) Lost Judgment is also on the Xbox One.

Finally, I never thought the day would come when I’d get to move Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin out of the unlocalized list. Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin, a historical spin-off set in the Bakumatsu period, was previously only available in Japan, but now it has been remade and released worldwide as Like a Dragon: Ishin for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Then there are five Yakuza spin-offs currently available only in Japan:

  • Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan (Yakuza Kenzan)
  • Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho (Yakuza: Black Panther)
  • Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Ashura Hen (Yakuza: Black Panther 2)
  • Ryu ga Gotoku Online

Kenzan is the earlier historical take on the Yakuza series, set in the Edo period. While the long-requested Yakuza Ishin localization is finally happening, there are currently no known plans for a Kenzan localization. In a 2019 interview, Yakuza producer Daisuke Sato suggested a hypothetical Yakuza Kenzan Kiwami would be our best chance of getting Yakuza Kenzan in English. If Ishin is successful, that should greatly improve our chances of getting Kenzan as well.

Moving on, the Black Panther games are PSP spin-offs about a young street punk who runs into trouble with the Tojo Clan.

Finally, Ryu ga Gotoku Online is a free-to-play gacha game for mobile/PC that ties into Yakuza 7/Like a Dragon. It isn’t canon, although the character backstories/context it gives is.

To summarize: It doesn’t matter when you play Judgment, Fist of the North Star, or Ishin. Judgment’s sequel Lost Judgment should be played after Like a Dragon, Dead Souls is ideally played anytime after Yakuza 4, and Like a Dragon Gaiden should be played after Yakuza 6. The other spin-offs aren’t available in English.


And there you have it! If you’re getting into the Yakuza series and aren’t sure where to begin, I hope you’ve found this Yakuza order guide helpful. Let me know if anything could be improved, and feel free to ask any remaining questions you have about the order to play the Yakuza games.

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  4 Responses to “Order to Play Yakuza Games”

  1. For anyone curious, timeline-wise, Judgement takes place after Yakuza 6 and the sequel Lost Judgement takes place after Yakuza Like a Dragon.

  2. […] Order to Play Yakuza Games – Samantha Lienhard […]

  3. […] Order to Play Yakuza Games – Samantha Lienhard […]

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