With the release of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life on PC and Xbox One tomorrow, fans of Kiryu Kazuma’s wild saga that weren’t PlayStation faithful will finally have a chance to experience the epic conclusion to his story. While maybe not the best game in the series (especially not when stacked up against Yakuza 0, Yakuza 5, or even Yakuza Kiwami 2), this late generation PS4 was a fitting coda to Sega’s crime thriller series that paved way for an entirely different take in the subsequent Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
We’re not here to talk about my thoughts on this particular title, though. I actually reviewed the game three years ago for a different website and my thoughts have remained mostly the same. There were a lot of compromises made to establish the "Dragon Engine" as the future of the series and Yakuza 6 suffers a little for it. Sluggish combat, sparse environments, and a lack of side activities make it feel almost like a prototype for what was yet to come, which was ultimately delivered on in Kiwami 2.
No, the reason we’re here today is to talk about the PC port of this series closer that has been eagerly requested by fans since Kiwami 2 landed on Steam in 2019. The gameplay of the earlier titles might be tighter and more refined, but the visual presentation offered by the Dragon Engine just begs to be freed from the shackles of 30 fps playback and 1080p output resolution. Kiwami 2 delivered that with a beautiful 4K output with 60 fps (and beyond) on PC and Yakuza 6 produces similar results…with some issues.
The biggest problem you’ll notice is that certain cutscenes are not only locked to 30 fps still but are actually badly compressed FMVs. I never noticed this about the Yakuza series on PS3 or even PS4, but it’s something that stuck out to me like a sore thumb in both this and the recently released PS5 version of Like a Dragon. For some reason, certain scenes are pre-rendered with a codec that just doesn’t do them justice. You get washed out colors, a blurry picture, and a lower framerate that looks jarring as hell against the rest of the game. Thankfully, the in-game cutscenes and actual moment-to-moment gameplay fare much better.
Since we’re finally not constrained to ancient hardware, Yakuza 6 is allowed to blow past 60 fps on the right hardware configuration and it feels a lot better. When going from Yakuza Kiwami to Yakuza 6 all those years ago, I was incredibly disappointed with how weighty and sluggish Kiryu felt. It was like taking a step back in time and it ended up making the combat feel unresponsive. When you can run the game at 240 fps, now Yakuza 6 feels pretty damn lightning fast.
That’s not to say there isn’t a catch here. Even on my RTX 3080 with a Ryzen 9 5900x, I noticed that leaving the game with the "Unlimited" framerate option produced some weird stutter when walking down the streets of Kamurocho. Unable to test this at 4K, I ran the game at 1080p and even noticed the problem without dealing with SSAA (which effectively doubles, triples, and quadruples your current resolution). Locking the game to 120 fps cleared up the problem, likely meaning that the game just struggles to keep a consistent framerate above that value. I also have a Gsync monitor, so I’m surprised it was such an issue.
Another nitpick I have is that the anti-aliasing provided for Yakuza 6 is still sub-optimal. For whatever reason, the Dragon Engine on every platform (including Series X and PS5) produces these horribly jagged edges on distant objects. The texture filtering is incredibly high, but tilt the camera slightly and you’ll see a ridiculous amount of shimmering and saw-tooth edges. I thought the PC port could clear that up, but I guess it’s something baked into this particular code. It doesn’t help that Yakuza 6 features the oldest version of this engine, so maybe I expected too much here.
Apart from that, the only other nagging issue I found was that pressing L3 or R3 on an Xbox Series X controller would double as pressing select and start. This had the unintended effect of meaning going into the first-person view would pause the game and accidentally clicking in the left stick would bring up the map. That’s a minor problem in the grand scheme of things and something that could be ironed out with a patch.
One thing I made sure to check was CPU utilization. I didn’t personally experience any higher-than-normal utilization last time with Yakuza Remastered, but a lot of users noted that the games were very heavy on older CPUs while playing. A recent patch was corrected that issue, but Yakuza 6 wasn’t much different for me. It’s maybe unfair to give numbers since I have a 12-core beast of a CPU, but I was often sitting around 50% for single-core. I suppose that’s high-ish, but temperatures were fine and my case fans weren’t ramping up at all.
If you’re lucky enough to have an SSD for your games, the load times are also practically non-existent. I was quite impressed with Like a Dragon on PS5, but Yakuza 6 on PC is faster than that. Saving is basically instantaneous and skipping cutscenes is fast as hell. I blitzed through three chapters in less than an hour, a feat that is completely impossible on the PS4 version. It’s really quite addictive.
Overall, I think you’ll be fine going into Yakuza 6 on PC. I’m not sure if the Windows Store version will be any different, but the Steam port is fine enough right now. There are a few issues that should be fixed, but it’s not uncommon for console ports to have such limitations. That Sega has freed this particular title from its last-generation chains is a major plus. Yakuza 6 features some excellent boss fights and a rather gripping story, so I’m happy that latecomers will have the definitive experience without performance concerns, for the most part.
TechRaptor played Yakuza 6: The Song of Life on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.