The Yakuza franchise began in 2005 and has since received multiple sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remasters. If you’re looking to get into the games, there’s several important entry points (and naming conventions) you’ll need to know.
The first thing you should be aware of is multiple versions of some games exist due to remastering. Yakuza and its sequel, which first appeared on PlayStation 2, have been remastered for PS3 and PS4 under the Yakuza Kiwami name. You’ve also got 0, which is a prequel to the original games and Like a Dragon, the latest entry for current and next gen consoles.
If it’s all a bit confusing, here’s how the franchise shapes up.
Yakuza Games in Chronological Order
Let’s say you want to experience the whole story from start to finish. If you’ve got a PS4 or PS5, you’re in luck — every game from the mainline franchise is available on either console.
If you’ve got an Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S or gaming PC, you won’t be able to purchase games 3-6. While Kiwami, Kiwami 2 and 0 have made their way to Xbox, the others in the franchise are yet to make the leap.
With that in mind, here’s how chronological order plays out for the series in 2020:
- Yakuza 0
- Yakuza Kiwami
- Yakuza Kiwami 2
- Yakuza 3 Remastered*
- Yakuza 4 Remastered*
- Yakuza 5 Remastered*
- Yakuza 6: The Song of Life*
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
*Not available on Xbox or PC yet
There’s also spin-offs you can play at any time like the non-canon survival horror Dead Souls and Judgment, which only has very loose ties to the franchise.
What Yakuza game should I play first?
You’ve got a couple of options here. The easiest and most cost effective entry point is Like a Dragon. It’s a soft reboot of the series following new character Ichiban Kasuga, a loyal clan member sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. While it’s a classic Yakuza game at its core, it features its own insular story and rarely references the events from past games.
Newcomers can easily jump in and get started with the game.
If you want to start from the beginning and get the whole story, including the origins of mainline protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, you’ll want to start with Yakuza 0. This covers Kiryu’s early beginnings and dives deep into his friendship with Goro Majima, but it was released after the mainline games and isn’t essential outside of it being a great game.
You can easily skip 0 and head straight to Kiwami, the remaster of the first game. Then, you should work your way up to Kiwami 2 and beyond. No matter where you start, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a blast with the franchise.
While it took a short while before the West discovered Yakuza‘s charms, the wait was absolutely worth it.