It can often feel overwhelming coming into any new entrant of the Yakuza series. Whether you’ve been here from day one, have started somewhere in the middle or are one of the understandably tentative players who’ll be marking Yakuza 6 down as one’s first foray into this atypically Japanese wild-ride, with so much to do and so little time to absorb it all, The Song of Life is no picnic. Fortunately we here at Hardcore Gamer have come up with a few quick tips to get you started and to help you along the way in what is another engaging and immersive outing in Sega’s long-running and acclaimed crime-thriller series. Be it combat, mini-games or the general pleasure of exploring the world around you, here’s six quick tips we think will help you going into Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
Less Mashing, More Strategizing
Where some combat-focused games can often let you get away with simply mashing one or even two buttons ad nauseum, if you’re going to solely rely on punching your way to hopeful victory, chances are you’ll lose faster than you can say: “Omae Wa Mo Shinderu.” When you find yourself tackling a larger crowd of thugs — be they coupled with a grander boss fight or otherwise — it’s always best to make use of evasion as well as your Heat Actions, let alone making sure to mix things up with offensive and defensive maneuvers. Heat Actions are relatively quick to charge up, so don’t worry if you feel the need to activate them to deal with a particular group. You flinch less when attacked anyway — outside of boss enemies of course — so Heat Actions can usually provide both offensive and defensive benefits.
All foes, however, be they lower thugs or bosses, won’t simply allow you to beat them to a pulp and will themselves often block, absorb, even dodge your attacks as they look for their own counter moment. It’s best then to keep a close eye on your enemy’s stance — making use of evasion to get the drop on them and if it comes to it, taking things a touch slower and methodically. Above all else, keep an eye on where foes are positioned as they will likely try and corner, even surround you, during early moments of a fight. Make sure to be actively dodging and defending yourself, even if it’s something as simple as a quick side-step in avoiding an incoming enemy, and before long that cocky group of thugs who’d dare challenge you will be swiftly dealt with.
Make the Most of Your Environment
Wherever it is you encounter thugs to fight amid the districts of Kamurocho or Onomichi, chances are there’ll be plenty of opportunity to inflict additional damage. And while you can of course instigate contextual actions such as slamming an enemy’s face into a wall, environmental objects from traffic cones to standing signs to even bicycles can be used as temporary weapons. Where smaller objects like cones will seldom offer much noticeable damage, larger objects like bicycles — which requires a bit longer wind-up time — can knock an entire horde of enemies to the ground when correctly used.
Always be on the look-out for items and objects that could aid you, though be aware that such objects have low durability. That and foes can also use these same objects against you. Upon unlocking further combat skills, certain weapons and items that enemies sometimes wield, like knives and handguns, can also be integrated in quick-time-styled actions if the right conditions are met. These usually rely on you being placed in the correct position or simply reacting in time when a button prompt appears on screen. You may find that with the right unlocks, you can even turn the tables on the seemingly advantageous foe before you. Though some specific actions may seem crazier to watch as they are beneficial, in the case of larger groups to deal with, any manner of contextual action is helpful and as much as you may want to have Kiryu’s fists do the talking, it can never hurt to fall back on the environment and the supposed tools they so frequently wield.
Take Out Lesser Grunts First
As noted, there will be some fights — particularly boss fights — that will have you deal with a slew of weaker, if still problematic, thugs on top of the main figure of the battle. Though the game’s silly and crazy antics may have you believe you can just go into all confrontations with overblown confidence, it won’t take long for enemies to gang up on you and quickly whittle away that health bar of yours if you’re not careful — regardless if the encounter has you on your own or in fact backed up by story-affiliated NPCs. Though your allies can deal with the odd thug here or there, don’t be too reliant on their relatively basic combat skills.
Whatever the case may be, it’s best to deal with the lesser grunts first so as to not incur any potentially last second frustrations, just as you’re on the cusp of victory. Most of these enemies are no different to the thugs you encounter on the streets, but in these situations make sure not to waste your Heat Actions as they’ll come in handy for the main big-bad. Particularly when the second phase of the fight commences and bosses will activate their own Heat Actions (indicated by the presence of a red flare of light, contrasting to Kiryu’s own blue flare) which more often than not, makes them more aggressive and thus deadlier than their first-phase iterations.
Keep Stocked Up on Items
The absence of health-regeneration and consumables dotted about the world at every corner — particularly during story missions and objectives — means that keeping a stock of vital equipment and items is paramount. Some enemies may drop the odd item or two in parts, but it’s recommended you make a trip to one of the many supermarkets dotted about if you want to keep a handy reserve of items when going into a likely boss encounter.
Thankfully, the game will almost always warn you of an impending encounter without explicitly stating it as such, meaning that you can decide for yourself when you’re properly fitted up and ready for the story to continue unfolding in typically Yakuza fashion. Even if you’re short of cash, some items can come by way of prizes for completing certain mini-game accomplishments (beating a target score or NPC opponent, for example) or as noted, through drops after beating a thug in one of the game’s many random counters on the street. So long as you have enough items to compensate for both health and the recharging of your Heat meter — as well as stumbling upon a few perk buffs that can slightly alter your attack/defense stats — you’ll be fine.
Different Activities Net You Different Amounts of EXP
Aside from awards, milestones and dealing with randomly-encountered thugs, all activities in Yakuza 6, be they story-based or found in its many mini-games, offer differing amounts of EXP across the five major categories. Couple this with the fact that unlocking certain combat/social skills — and later down the line, your basic stats — require different amounts of EXP, it’s advisable to hunt out new activities to take part in whenever possible so as to better maximize your EXP count across all categories.
Of course, simply taking part in a mini-game will grant you a small amount of EXP no matter how many retries you take, but to avoid merely grinding for the sake of a desired skill unlock, it’s always best to spread one’s time across a number of activities. Whether it’s differing mini-games, restaurants to eat out at (though take note of how food alters your digestion level as going over the limit cancels out any bonus EXP you may get from that food/drink) or generally helping folks out via Troublr or through side quests, there’s an abundance of content to invest in as is often the case with any Yakuza game, so don’t be afraid to divert from the norm and experiment to see what activities can get you closer to your next/ideal unlock.
Level Up Clan Member Growth As Soon As Possible
But if there’s one skill you probably should unlock and subsequently build up as soon as possible, no doubt it’s the Clan Member Growth which allows your Clan Creator units to level up at a much faster pace. Clan Creator is easily one of Yakuza 6’s stand-out moments and a mini-game that can distract you from the main story for hours. While early missions are relatively easy to deal with, later efforts will require a more thoroughly strategic mind. Even so, if your units aren’t of the right level, chances are you won’t be finishing these missions in the required time.
The best advice, providing you can spare enough EXP so as to ensure you’re leveling up Kiryu’s main stats along the way, is to invest in this social skill sooner rather than later. While you can of course use any left-over EXP to put towards individual units in Clan Creator, unlocking additional growth progression will mean that early mission success can have each unit jump anywhere between three to even five levels upon early use. Especially for those who are fond of the SRPG genre and can see much to involve themselves with in this particular mini-game, Clan Member Growth (and its additional level unlocks on top of that) just might be one of the more hidden benefits and a helpful tool indeed.