Like the original game, Yakuza Kiwami is an action-adventure game with role-playing elements set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. The player controls protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he explores the streets of Kamurocho, a fictional district of Tokyo based on the real-life Kabukichō district. In addition to the main story, players will randomly encounter enemies on the street to battle, as well as meet people that will offer Kiryu side quests which can be completed for rewards.
Similar to the prequel Yakuza 0, Kiwami features four fighting styles that the player can switch between in combat: the balanced Brawler style, the slow and heavy Beast style, the weak but quick Rush style, and Kiryu’s traditional Dragon style. Players will earn both money and experience points by defeating enemies or completing side quests. Experience points can be used to acquire upgrades for Kiryu such as new techniques or an extension to his health bar. Money can be spent to purchase equipment or healing items, or to play various minigames and side-activities such as gambling, karaoke, and the card battle game Mesuking. Completing certain objectives will also grant the player special Completion Point currency; this CP can be spent to receive additional bonuses, such as special items or character upgrades.
Kiwami introduces a new gameplay system called “Majima Everywhere”, which replaces the Mr. Shakedown system previously present in Yakuza 0, in which rival character Goro Majima will appear frequently to challenge Kiryu to a fight. Majima will appear randomly during exploration, as well as in predetermined challenges based on the player’s progress in Majima Everywhere. Majima will also sometimes appear when playing a minigame (like darts or bowling) and will challenge Kiryu. Defeating Majima in different scenarios will increase the player’s Majima Everywhere rank and unlock new abilities in Kiryu’s Dragon style