Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: A Turn-Based Crime RPG And First-Person Shooters

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A bear, a lady in a suit, and a solider wearing a deer mask are arranged in a collage.

Hey, it’s a three-day weekend here in the States. That means more time for gaming. This weekend we’re taking a look at some shooters, both of the traditional “Boomer Shooter,” and team-based variety. But that’s not all. Ahead of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s release on January 26, now’s a good time to visit an excellent entry in a certain ongoing crime sim series.

Kasuga gets ready for an attack.

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Windows (Steam Deck OK)
Current goal: Get a story refresher ahead of Infinite Wealth
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy | Humble Bundle | Target

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For a long time, people were convinced that Like a Dragon started as an elaborate April Fool’s joke from Sega. That bit of lore has since been debunked, but the Yakuza series’ pivot from an action beat-’em-up to a turn-based RPG remains every bit as goofy as its apocryphal origin story. Our new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga gets into all sorts of shenanigans in Yokohama, and with the help of his new besties, changes Japan’s criminal underworld forever.

There’s a lot to love about Like A Dragon, but the best part might be the job system, which is a far cry from the familiar mages and paladin fare of the RPG genre. In this game, you can make a character a chef or a dominatrix (along with about a dozen other things), complete with the outfit, skills, and weaponry to match. I’ve forgotten most of the story, so I’m dipping a toe back in before the upcoming sequel. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, out January 26, sees Ichiban and longtime series lead Kazuma Kiryu team up for some new adventures in shitkicking—only this time, they’re in Hawaii. In the meantime, I’ll be beating up chumps with “adult novelties” and expanding my rice cracker empire back in Yokohama. — Jen Glennon

Sweet! Yakuza: Like a Dragon is on Game Pass

Not only can you download Ichiban Kasuga’s story with Game Pass on Xbox and PC, the whole Yakuza franchise is yours to explore with your subscription.

An explosion of pixely blood erupts from an enemy.

Play it on: Windows
Current goal: Dive into the second chapter
Buy it from: Humble Bundle

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Having written up a bunch of fantastic boomer shooters for the site, I was reminded that the team behind the as-yet-unfinished Project Warlock II had added an awful lot of content to its Early Access build since I’d last played. In fact, previously it had only been a single, fantastic level. It’s now two full chapters, each made up of a pile of enormous, sprawling, open levels to tear around.

I’m so glad I’ve gone back to it. This is a screamingly fast FPS game, where you move like an ice cube skidding across a kitchen floor, facing down dozens of enemies at a time. What makes it feel different from the many other retro-FPS games is the sheer scale of the levels, which are far more open than the genre normally offers. Think of those times you got to go outside in the original Unreal, but far more densely packed with enemies, secrets, and loot.

Those secrets are a blast to find, and worth pursuing too, since they offer tokens for upgrades in the betwixt level zone. There are three different areas you can upgrade, with each weapon possible to adjust in two different ways (one shutting down access to the other), and then this upgrade boosted. Then there are affinities to improve, such as whether you want to improve your melee talent, firepower, or indeed your power with fire—you gain spells that let you do things like blast torrents of fire from your palms. And finally you can then specialize even further with—er—VHS tapes you can buy when you’ve increased your ability in a specific attack style, that enhance them in specific ways.

This is all then taken back to the next level, where enemies that were previously boss-like can now appear in gangs and be quickly taken care of. In this, it reminds me of the excellent enemy handling in the original Serious Sam. My plan this weekend is to get stuck into the second chapter, that has a whole other player character, with their own set of skills, perks, spells and weapons. — John Walker

Try out Project Warlock 2’s free demo on Steam

Neo-retro vibes of the “boomer shooter” variety got your interest? Good news: You can download a free demo of Project Warlock 2 to get shootin’ like it’s the mid ‘90s all over again

Soldiers engage in combat in a building.

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC (Steam Deck YMMV)
Current goal: Figure out if multiplayer or Warzone is my 2024 jam
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy | Target

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While I certainly did not enjoy Modern Warfare III’s campaign (though a handful of missions are at least conceptually interesting), the multiplayer has been a different story. To be honest, it’s been hard to get time in on the latest multi offering from CoD, but after a recent trip through some 6v6, Ground War, and Warzone, I’m thinking this game should be in my regular rotation. The problem? I don’t have a lot of time. So this weekend, I’m hoping to figure out if CoD’s gonna be my go-to battle royale, or if I have the appetite for an additional team deathmatch game beyond Halo.

I really appreciate the almost non-stop intensity of CoD’s traditional teams-based multiplayer. It’s a perfect way to just throw on some Lamb of God and enjoy the chaos (though, oddly, I’ve found Arvo Pärt’s music to be unique background material for the ultra violence of CoD). Warzone, however, is very different. A DMZ refugee, I typically play slow and cautiously—and with DMZ-like features joining Warzone next week with Season 1 Reloaded, it’s gonna be a tough call between this or 6v6. War Mode is also calling to me: its key objectives kinda remind me of Killzone’s multiplayer, though sadly without the signature red-eyed Helghast on the field.

Either way, I’m looking forward to finally getting the time to figure out what my go-to loadouts are, make some progress by leveling up new guns, and just enjoying the competitive challenge of a brutally fast-paced, first-person shooter.

— Claire Jackson

Overwatch heroes engage in battle.

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, Windows (Steam Deck YMMV)
Current goal: Reevaluate my life
Buy it from: Steam

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I’ve stopped playing Baldur’s Gate 3—not because I’m sick of it, but because I’m near the finale and I don’t want it to end. So what have I done to scratch my gaming itch while avoiding completing my favorite game of the last several years? I go back to my abusive lover, Overwatch 2.

Sure, the latest patch just broke Illari so bad she’s not in competitive mode right now, and sure, that very same competitive still hasn’t fixed its ranking system, so I’m wallowing in fucking gold like a scrub. Despite all that, I’ll be spending this weekend not drinking and trying to raise my rank, because I’m a total sucker. I don’t even think I’lll turn my mic on anymore, I’ll just suffer in silence. Catch you on the flip, I’ll let you know how my rank ends up by Monday morning.

— Alyssa Mercante


And those are our picks for the long weekend. What are you hoping to play?

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