Yakuza: Like a Dragon on Xbox X Series - a cross-gen experience on next-gen hardware - technical analysis

Yakuza: Like a Dragon on Xbox X Series - a cross-gen experience on next-gen hardware - technical analysis
Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the Xbox X Series launch title, takes the famous Sega series in a whole new direction, leveraging the enormous power of the next console from Microsoft. Just like in the case of Dirt 5, this member of the Series X lineup also tends to offer different ways to play, which is an absolutely positive fact.

Developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, Like a Dragon (known as Yakuza 7 in Japan) moves into totally experimental territory, replacing typical 3D combat mechanics with turn-based RPG battles. It was time to bring a breath of fresh air to the series and this chapter is a brave product beyond all expectations. Furthermore, the game will arrive on Xbox Series X with all the benefits that this entails, namely support for 4K, a granite frame-rate at 60fps and loading times reduced to the bone. Will he be able to amaze us in every respect? To what extent will it be able to exploit the X Series features?

Interestingly, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is already available in Japan as a PS4 exclusive but the arrival in the West will bring it to different platforms: Xbox Series S, X Series, PC and even PS5 (version which, curiously, has been postponed to next year). The test build we have available focuses on chapter five: a rather advanced portion of the adventure which, however, gives us a way to know in depth the cast and the setting of Yokohama.

The move to the RPG structure is really bold but it is implemented well enough to feel natural, all things considered. The engine behind the title is the same as seen in Yakuza Judgment so the exploration of the game world may be familiar to fans of the series, although the turn-based battles add a never-before-seen layering to the gameplay formula. You can assign specific tasks to each squad member and give each character certain stat boosts and nerfs by making use of unique abilities. Even the positioning of the fighters will have a fundamental value, during the battles: racing against a bike could cause extra damage, the enemies can interrupt the moves of the protagonists and particular actions can be activated based on the position even if, in fact, the movement is not directly controllable.

This content is hosted on an external platform, which will only display it if you accept targeting cookies. Please enable cookies to view. Manage cookie settings Our first look at Yakuza: Like a Dragon on Xbox Series X.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel It's still Yakuza but its structure has been demolished and rebuilt to function differently: the menus are always easy to read and the change of pace is a choice that we particularly appreciated. The ability to select the next moves from a large list of skills gave the studio the opportunity to offer some of the craziest ideas ever seen in the saga. Furthermore, the city in which the game is set is already a revolution of its own: Like a Dragon shifts the focus to a different district of the city of Yokohama. It is a decisive change of course compared to the traditional focus of the series on Tokyo and the protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, is totally new: we are facing an excellent starting point for newcomers.

The arrival on Series S and X this year, it gave developers the ability to push the Dragon Engine introduced in Yakuza 6, Judgment and Kiwami 2 to the limit. Designed from the ground up for PS4, this engine boasts excellent character animations, rendering based on the advanced physics and lighting systems. The power of this engine, however, has greatly affected the performance of the current generation consoles: PS4 Pro can't maintain stable performance even at 30fps and, even on PC, the Dragon is quite demanding to manage. Just like in the case of Dirt 5, however, the study states that using the extra power provided by the new consoles will be up to the end user.

Like a Dragon offers three viewing modes: normal, high resolution and high frame-rate. In standard mode, the X Series renders the game at native 1440p without employing a dynamic resolution scaler. By giving up on native 4K, Ryu Ga Gotoku's title almost always runs at 60fps with active v-sync. The resolution mode, on the other hand, pushes the resolution to 3840x2160 pixels but the refresh-rate is halved bringing the action to 30fps (with some problems in terms of frame-pacing). Finally, the high frame-rate mode brings us back to 60fps but drops the resolution to 1080p to resolve all the performance drops recorded in the standard mode.

Obviously, the normal mode offers the ideal experience. There are no major visual differences between the three options: it all comes down to finding the right compromise between resolution and frame-rate. Opting for 1440p at 60fps seems like the best solution. In the vast majority of situations, the game manages to keep to 60fps, both when moving around the city and when entering combat, and as a result, you can safely avoid bringing the resolution to 1080p just to get a granite frame-rate. . All of this brings us back to where we left off Yakuza 0 but with the modern rendering techniques seen in Judgment.

1080p frame-rate mode exists for a reason: there are noticeable dips in normal mode, especially when using advanced attacks. Expect to see drops of up to 50fps during moves that are particularly rich in alpha effects but don't worry: this is not a major distraction, especially when we consider the turn-based nature of the gameplay, which does not allow sudden camera movements. While navigating the city, fortunately, the game manages to keep the 60fps stable and that is why we recommend viewing in normal mode. If, on the other hand, you were hoping to be able to play with unlocked frame-rates to get the most out of your 120Hz screens, you will be disappointed as, in any configuration, the game maxes out at 60fps. the nose but it is important to look at everything with the right perspective. The Dragon Engine, historically, is a very demanding engine to manage and it is not always easy to maintain stable performance but the advantages are quite obvious. It's not about how many pixels or how many frames there are on the screen, it's more important to see what is being rendered. The city appears alive and vibrant as crowds and traffic realistically react to the laws of physics.

Yakuza like a Dragon offers three viewing modes on Xbox X Series. Normal mode runs at 1440p generally at 60fps, resolution mode in 4K at 30fps while the one that favors frame-rate goes to 1080p with 60fps stable. Other than resolution, there is nothing that distinguishes these three modes. Inevitably, 4K helps to make some scenic elements like the crosswalk in the background of these images more elegant. The bloom effect in this image appears slightly altered in 1080p mode. The lighting, on the other hand, is almost identical in all three settings. Forgive the slight difference in the background of these shots. The focus is on Ichiban's character model in combat, identical in all modes. Furthermore, the high quality materials used give the rooms a very realistic lighting. Every item for sale in the shops, the characters' clothing, the vehicles - all materials have been reproduced to provide consistent results regardless of the lighting conditions. This is the most important fact: whether it is the indirect lighting of the stalls during the day or the moonlight on the streets at night, the overall look is always quite realistic. Just like in Judgment, finally, the day / night cycle does not update in real time but passes from one phase to another at predetermined intervals.

The world of Like a Dragon, as usual for the series, shines thanks to the small details. The visual effects are mind-blowing: the lens flare that reproduces the city lights, the motion blur during combat attacks, the screen-space reflections on puddles and windows: there is no ray tracing but the result is equally excellent. The facial expressions, for their part, are excellent as always while the cutscenes are perfectly synchronized with both the English and Japanese dubbing.

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The skin of the characters and the quality of their hair stand out for the absolute realism that distinguishes them, especially in the case of supporting actors like Nanba. Of course, there are also the famous minigames. Head to any arcade and you'll have access to arcade versions of classic titles like Virtua Fighter 2, Fantasy Zone and OutRun (although the latter two aren't available in our trial version).

Every corner of the city hides exciting surprises that make Like a Dragon a worthy successor in the Yakuza saga: it is really fascinating to discover what lies within each area. The most incredible thing is that, even when moving around in a taxi, the loading times are practically instant. Microsoft had promised to offer similar if not superior performance to regular NVMe disks, and in the case of Yakuza, that results in a smooth experience without any kind of interruption.

Yakuza's core strength Like a Dragon, just like in the previous chapters of the series, it is to offer the possibility to freely explore a city built with all the trappings. There is no doubt that this is a game of the PS4 / Xbox One era in spirit but some special precautions manage to transport it into the territory of cross-gen titles.

The advantage of the X Series version, we repeat, is the choice: you can opt for 4K but also for fixed 60fps on consoles. Since Like a Dragon can boast all the latest technical innovations of the most recent titles in the series, being able to count on a doubled frame-rate really makes the difference, especially in the navigation phases of the game world. Ryu Ga Gotoku's latest effort makes clever use of X Series hardware. At the moment we're only scraping the surface of the potential of Microsoft's new console but the upgrades we've seen at work have impressed us positively.

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