Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes a huge departure from the series by becoming a turn-based JRPG, which means character-based levelling is now core to gameplay, while enemy difficulty is also based on levels (that said, an enemy 10 levels above you isn’t necessarily impossible while a low-level enemy can still be hard to one-shot if they’re especially resistant to certain attacks).
Character levels aren’t just important for improving stats or learning new skills, you’ll also need to reach certain levels to qualify for new jobs.
Jobs incidentally also have their own rank levels too, though taking on a new job does mean you’ll have to start from scratch with lower stats (and you’ll want to find a better weapon for that job than the one you’re given by default). Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to catch up since the first few job ranks don’t require as much XP.
How to earn XP and how is it calculated?
In Yakuza: Like a Dragon you only earn XP through battles, from standard encounters to bosses. Part-time hero quests offer you a variety of rewards while substories are hilarious and have their own perks, but they generally won’t net much XP.
If you pay attention to the Results screen at the end of a battle, you’ll see two XP gauges under each character, their character level at the top and their current job rank at the bottom.
What you also want to keep in mind is a number next to each that acts as a multiplier. Typically, this will be ‘x1.0’, but there are ways to improve this.
Also note that any party members in your reserves also gain XP although not as much to begin with. You can however improve this by increasing your bonds with each character. Once you’ve maxed out your friendship bonds, they will earn the same amount of XP whether or not they’ve an active party member so juggling party members for XP becomes less of a hassle.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon quick XP and levelling
XP boosts can be gained from eating and drinking. At certain restaurants, if you order the correct set menu, you’ll gain stat boosts for the next few battles, one such perk includes a boost to your XP multiplier. Another way is by drinking a Kiwami drink. These can be bought from vending machines, such as the one in the Seagull Cinema.
It should be noted however that these effects don’t tend to last long and spending all this money on food and drink isn’t the most effective way to grind.
The better way to boost your XP is by finding rare accessories that can give you a x0.5 boost to your XP. When each character can equip up to two accessories, that means at maximum you can double your XP earned.
The easiest XP boosting gear is the Tranquil Tenugui. This is a reward you earn after completing ‘Substory 11: Certified Underdogs’. To unlock this substory, you must pass all of the vocational exams at Ounabara Vocational School (recommended if you also want to quickly boost Ichiban’s personality stats).
Another equally efficient XP boosting accessory is the Yakuza Training Gear. These can actually be found towards the end game but if you want to unlock it early, it’s one of the prizes found at the MIRAI batting center. Be warned however you’ll need to be really good at the mini-game and then play a lot of times, because this item also costs the most points. So you might want to weigh up trying to save XP grind by grinding a mini-game instead.
Ultimately, it’s going to be a huge grind trying to find XP boosting items/gear for everyone so you’re best off prioritising these for Ichiban since he always has to be in the party.
The same also applies to job rankings as you can find accessories throughout the game that when equipped to a specific job will boost job XP by x0.5.
Yokohama’s best spots for XP grinding
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is frankly a bit more lenient in difficulty than most JRPGs so you rarely have to grind. But when there are times you’re about to face a tough encounter, there are also a few key places highlighted that you should consider visiting if you do want to improve your chances of levelling up fast.
First are the dungeons, or in this case underground sewers. You’ll have access to the Yokohama underground dungeon from Chapter 7, while another dungeon also opens up at the end game. If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to make sure Ichiban changes to the Foreman job at least once to unlock the Demolish skill. This will be important to access certain routes in the dungeons.
More importantly, these dungeons feature enemies you aren’t likely to encounter elsewhere, and one of these is the Invested Vagabond. He’s essentially your mega XP booster, a bit like the rare enemies found in Persona and other JRPGs. The problem is he’s both highly resistant to all attacks, only taking 1 HP damage for any hit, and is prone to running away. Nonetheless he doesn’t have that much HP so the trick is to focus all party member attacks on him but dish out combo-based attacks where possible (the idol job’s twirling beat skill is quite good for this). Take him down and your party is guaranteed to instantly gain a level (or two!)
In Chapter 12, you’ve got an even more direct route to levelling as you’ll have access to a Battle Arena, which consists of 30 floors of battles. Not only is this great for levelling up but you’ll also be rewarded with some rare quality gear if you meet certain conditions. You can also repeat this arena and start from different checkpoints to cater to your needs, great if you’re thinking of grinding a new job from scratch.
Either way, as you will start coming across the game’s toughest battles from that point onwards, it’s highly recommended that you complete the Battle Arena at least once.
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