There’s never been a better time to play the Yakuza games. The series made its Western debut way back in 2006, and was previously exclusive to Sony’s platforms for a number of years. That all recently changed, though, as Yakuza’s unique brand of action-adventure is now available on a host of platforms, including Steam and Xbox Game Pass for console and PC.
The Yakuza games revolve around the steely protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, who you follow in a journey through the heart of Japan’s seedy underworld. You’ll experience what life is like as a hard-nosed Yakuza, and although there’s plenty of moolah to be made (and people to shake down), it isn’t all work and no play. There’s a staggering amount of recreational activities on offer, from singing karaoke, eating at restaurants and playing Sega’s classics in the arcades – you’ll even end up running a cabaret club.
Combat is a mainstay, as you might expect in a world where disputes are often settled violently. You’ll brawl with all sorts of shady lowlifes, delivering devastating combos and bone-crushing ‘heat’ moves that will make even the most hardened player wince a bit.
Yakuza is definitely a mature series at heart, but it can also be downright hilarious. It’s surprising how it manages to strike such a fine balance between being absolutely brutal and totally bonkers at the same time.
That makes it hard to define, too. Yakuza is often called the “Japanese Grand Theft Auto,” but that doesn’t really do it justice. It’s a mish-mash of so many systems and different mechanics – from RPG progression to rhythm-based mini-games – and it’s much more story-focused than Rockstar’s GTA. It also meshes everything together so wonderfully that it truly feels like there’s nothing quite like it.
With Yakuza: Like a Dragon on the horizon, which will be the seventh mainline entry in the series, we’ll show you how to play the Yakuza games in order, how they rank with critics, and list every Yakuza game released to date.
Ready to prove your devotion? It’s time to hit the streets of Kamurocho and find out what it means to be a Yakuza…
How to play the Yakuza games in order: chronological order
Even if you’re familiar with Sega’s long-running series, the Yakuza timeline can be a little confusing. To play the games in chronological order, you’ll need to start with Yakuza 0, where a young, fresh-faced Kazuma Kiryu is beginning to make his mark. Next up is Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2 (excellent remakes of Yakuza and Yakuza 2), and then… well, it’s pretty self-explanatory from there. Here’s how to play them all in chronological order:
- Yakuza 0 (takes place in 1988)
- Yakuza Kiwami (a remake of Yakuza on PS2, takes place in 2005)
- Yakuza Kiwami 2 (a remake of Yakuza 2 on PS2, takes place in 2006)
- Yakuza 3 (takes place in 2009)
- Yakuza 4 (takes place in 2010)
- Yakuza 5 (takes place in 2012)
- Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (takes place in 2016)
How to play the Yakuza games in order: release date and platform
Want to play the Yakuza games in order of release? Well, you’ll need to dust off your old PlayStation 2 to play the first game in all its standard-definition glory. However, we’d advise against that, as you can play Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2 instead, which are modern remakes of the first two games. It should also save you a trip to the attic.
- Yakuza (2006, PS2)
- Yakuza 2 (2008, PS2)
- Yakuza 3 (2010, PS3)
- Yakuza 4 (2011, PS3)
- Yakuza: Dead Souls (2012, PS3)
- Yakuza 5 (2015, PS3, PS4)
- Yakuza 0 (2017, PS4)
- Yakuza Kiwami (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Yakuza Kiwami 2 (2018, PS4)
- Yakuza 6 (PS4)
- The Yakuza Remastered Collection (PS4)
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PS4, TBD)
Yakuza games on Xbox Game Pass for console and PC: more coming in 2020
Grab Xbox Game Pass today
One of the biggest surprises at Microsoft’s X019 event was the announcement that the Yakuza series was finally coming to Xbox, and even more importantly, Xbox Game Pass. If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, here are the games you can download right now.
- Yakuza 0 (out now on Xbox One, PC)
- Yakuza Kiwami (out now on Xbox One, PC)
- Yakuza Kiwami 2 (coming soon to Xbox One, PC)
Best Yakuza games ranked
While reviews of any game are entirely subjective, we’ve listed the best Yakuza games based on their Metacritic rating. We would strongly recommend playing Yakuza 0 first if you’re new to the series, though, as it’s the most accomplished version of the game and it’s a great introduction to the eccentric series. It’s also the highest-rated game among the critics, alongside Yakuza Kiwami 2.