10 things you should know before starting Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is out on PC next week, and it's well worth your time. This is a singular, eccentric game, and, while this why it's so good, it also means there's a bunch of things that are neither obvious nor explained. So if you'd like to get up to speed on life in Kamurocho (and Sotenbori) here's my ten top tips for playing Yakuza 0.

Phone home

I know, telling people to save their game is a low bar for internet guides. But think of this more as a public service announcement. Yakuza 0 has no autosave system. Instead, you have to manually save by visiting one of the phone booths scattered around the city. That means you can't just quit: when the game tells you that you'll lose your unsaved progress, it really means it—you could lose hours of progress. But the other thing to note is that, if the game asks you if you're ready to progress before starting a mission, make sure to save first. Some of Yakuza 0's missions are long, and with no way to save in the middle of them.

Pause for thought

Related to the last point, you're going to be spending a lot of time reading dialogue in Yakuza 0—dialogue delivered through a strangely large variety of cutscene types. If you do need to pop away for whatever reason, even if it's in the middle of a CGI cutscene, you can just hit the F9 key (or start on the gamepad) to pause the action. This can be useful because, as previously mentioned, you can't save the game in the middle of a mission.

Catch a ride

You'll use taxis to travel to different locations throughout the main story, but you can also use them at any time as a way to fast travel across the map. This is a minor thing, because it doesn't actually take that long to walk across either Kamurochu or Sotenbori, but can be handy if you're going back and forth between various locations and want to avoid a bunch of fights. It's particularly useful in the PC version, because the loading times are shorter.

Stay hydrated

As soon as you're set free to explore Kamurocho, head over to Kotobuki Drugs on Taihei Boulevard East to stock up on drinks. You can buy health-replenishing drinks (and eat health-replenishing food) all over Kamurocho, but the pharmacy is where you'll find the good stuff. The best item is the Staminan Royale, which restores both your health and your Heat bar. Always have at least a couple in your inventory. It's also worth grabbing some bottles of Tauriner ++, which recharges just your Heat. If you're up against a powerful, hard-hitting enemy, Heat moves can chip off a lot of damage, and having a way to restore it (without wasting a health item) can be useful.

Tool up

There are many different equipment types in Yakuza 0. Gear and accessories can be equipped for passive buffs, and, for an embarrassingly long time, I thought the weapons were a passive bonus too. That's not the case. Those weapons you earn as mission bonuses, or buy from shops, or craft through Majima's blacksmith, can be equipped during a fight by pressing '4' on the keyboard or down on a controller's d-pad. They might seem pretty useless at first—they break after a handful of attacks. The trick is when to use them. Pull them out when your Heat bar is full and hit the Heat action button to unleash a terrifyingly powerful attack. Then put the weapon away and wait until the bar recharges.

Keep it clean

If your weapon does break, you can repair it by visiting the Dragon & Tiger store. You'll unlock this for Majima as part of the story. After the introductory cutscene has finished, head straight back into the shop and send the owner out on a collection quest. This is a tutorial for the resource gathering system and, once you've triggered it, the Kamurocho branch of Dragon & Tiger will open for Kiryu to use. You'll find it in the Kamuro Shopping Area.

Train your body

Each character has three fighting styles, and, while some are better than others in certain situations, I've found Kiryu's Brawler style and Majima's Slugger style to be the best. Brawler is pretty well-rounded, with a range of attacks and grabs, and its default combo of four light and one heavy attack does a chunk of damage. Majima's Slugger is even better. Execute three light attacks and then spam the heavy button to spin your bat, absolutely brutalising street thugs. These are the styles I'd suggest prioritising when you're buying skills.

Diversify your portfolio

Even if you have a preferred combat style, don't skimp on the others, as each can be useful in particular situations. Kiryu's Rush, for instance, isn't very powerful, but the quick dodges can be a lifesaver against slower, more powerful enemies. And Majima's Breaker style not only lets you attack both high and low—bypassing enemies that block constantly—but it's silly and fun, and that's reason enough really. More importantly, each style's upgrade tree has health upgrades that are useful whatever style you're actively using.

Clown around

There are a bunch of ways to earn money in Yakuza 0, although the most profitable methods are found later in the game. If you're looking for an early cash injection, go see Bob, the clown guy who hangs around the Shrine. He's carrying a bunch of item packs—free DLC that is both useful and often silly. One of those items is a Diamond Plate worth ¥100,000,000. Take that to the Ebisu Pawn store to sell it. Also, while you're at the Shrine, spend any points you've earned by performing tasks like eating every item on a restaurant's menu or doing really well at Outrun. There's a load of handy upgrades, including the ability to sprint for longer.

Try it all

There are a bunch more tips I could give you, including some pretty effective cash farming methods, but much of the joy of Yakuza 0 is discovering things yourself. It's worth taking time out from the story to just sample what the city has to offer. Try activities, spend frivolously, test weapons and accessories and visit every marked location on the map. Some will be just simple distractions, others will lead to ridiculous substories, and a few diversions will even reward you with powerful gear. Or a chicken.