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The Yakuza series is returning next year, but it is also getting some major changes. Yakuza 7 has a new hero and location. But the biggest departure for the series is that it’s now using a turn-based combat system.

Yakuza 7 debuts January 16 in Japan, China, and Korea for the PlayStation 4, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki. Sega is promising to launch it in North America and Europe later in 2020.

This is the latest entry in the long-running series that has players exploring a world of crime with deep narratives and a large number of sidequest diversions. The franchise has continued to win over fans in the West, and now it’s one of Sega’s most popular gaming properties.

But the publisher is taking some risks with Yakuza 7. When it launches, players will get to control Ichiban Kasuga. He is a new protragonist. Up until this point, Kazuma Kiryu was the hero in all previous Yakuza games.


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Also unlike previous Yakuzas, controlling Ichiban does not mean getting into countless beat-’em-up-style fights. Instead, the game is using a more traditional turn-based system.

Yakuza 7: The RPG April Fools’ Day joke is real

Yakuza’s turn-based battles actually leaked earlier this year. On March 31, a video appeared online showing Yakuza characters taking turns blowing fire out of their mouths and wielding baseball bats. But most people assumed that this leak was a joke because of how close it was to April Fools day.

Here’s the original leak:

But it turns out that the actual game looks a lot like that original video. The particle effects that go along with attacks look similar, and the user interface is nearly identical.

Here’s a clip that the Yakuza team showed off this morning:

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I reached out to Sega to ask why it loves making us feel like fools, and I’ll update this post with any new information from the publisher.

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