New Yakuza 7 details suggest the game will lean heavily into JRPG elements, according to a translated Japanese interview with the game’s developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Games. Yakuza 7‘s new look for the series was actually first revealed as an April Fools’ joke that many fans didn’t take seriously, before news in late August proved that the video was actually just a sneak peek at the development of the next instalment in the franchise.

The Yakuza series is known for its action-based combat, but even then, it’s not necessarily the major selling point of the games – Yakuza has garnered something of a cult following because of the many extracurricular options it gives its players. Yakuza games feature karaoke, taxi driving, and several other odd jobs that distract players away from the main storyline for hours the same way traditional RPGs like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Final Fantasy 15 do. For that reason, alongside the game’s larger-than-life characters and deftly-told stories, porting the Yakuza series away from action into the JRPG genre actually makes a fair bit of sense.

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It’s certainly something that Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Games are counting on, as new details have revealed just how heavily Yakuza 7 JRPG elements feature into the game’s overall experience. According to an interview with Yakuza series general director Toshihiro Nagoshi translated by Gematsu, the team is working hard to make sure the interface and action elements remain accessible. That hasn’t stopped them from leaning very hard into modern JRPG design, though:

The tempo of the battle is not quite the same as selecting multiple commands, then watching the battle unfold based on the actions you selected…it is quite close to the feeling of endlessly watching a battle between several people. It’ll take some getting used to, but there are some tricks here and there, and if you learn them, you can play with the same habit of playing an action game.

…While we considered doing a hybrid of action and command, it would be the same as creating two titles and there wasn’t enough time for that.

That rules out the potential of a hybrid battle system that fans who really want action-based gameplay can select for Yakuza 7. Beyond Nagoshi’s translated interview, industry analyst Nibel shared on Twitter that the game will have some more old-school JRPG systems that are sure to please fans of the genre:

Nibel’s news comes courtesy of Japanese website Ryokutya, and suggests that the Yakuza 7 JRPG elements will go far deeper than just battle. Playtime will be extended, presumably in an effort to match the expectations the JRPG genre places on game length, and party members will have job designations that presumably will alter their abilities in combat. Yakuza 7 will even feature fast travel and equippable items.

Yakuza 7‘s JRPG switch is bound to be one of the most talked about innovations for a developer in recent memory. Ryu Ga Gotoku are risking a lot on the decision to migrate the Yakuza franchise into the genre it arguably has fit best for several releases now, but it has the feeling of a gamble that can pay off in spades if the studio gets it right. It’s especially interesting given that a Yakuza Remastered Collection is coming to PS4, meaning new fans might get accustomed to the action just before the series makes its big change. With plenty more Yakuza 7 information on the horizon, fans will have to wait and see what becomes of one of the most criminally underplayed series in modern gaming.

Source: Gematsu, Ryokutya (via Nibel/Twitter)

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