Positive review scores are nothing new for the Yakuza series. The last five games have averaged at around an 80 Metascore, which is quite an accomplishment for its Japanese development team at SEGA.
The best part of it all is Yakuza has statistically improved over time. While its first release a decade ago fought for every one of its 800,000 units sold and a 75 Metascore, more recently the series has sold and reviewed better.
This crescendo has climaxed with Yakuza 0, which sits among a cast of two other titles (Gravity Rush 2 and Resident Evil 7) responsible for kicking off 2017. While the industry is used to waiting until late-February or March for something special, this year is proving memorable just three weeks in.
In this regard, Yakuza 0's role is important. 2016 was considered by many to be a disappointing year for gaming despite having a small handful of well-reviewed releases, a surprising number of which were first-person shooters. The expectations of 2017, with its new hardware launches and wide breadth of games, veer toward being unreasonable at this point.
While Yakuza 0 might not have made its way into many top lists for 2017, its reception has raised questions about why it wasn't taken more seriously. Currently averaging at an 85 Metascore, it's now the most well-received title in the franchise, outperforming Yakuza 5's 83 Metascore. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's also the best received title of the year thus far.
Our sister site PlayStation LifeStyle commended Yakuza 0 for its fantastic storytelling and varied content, with writer Paulmichael Contreras concluding, "Fans of the series will no doubt be thankful Sega took the time to localize Yakuza 0, and those looking for a good starting point for the series can begin with this excellent prequel". The title earned a handsome 8.5 in the review.
Gravity Rush 2 experienced similar success last week when its embargo dropped. Sitting at an 81 Metascore, it's also a PS4 exclusive that many reviewers adored.
Related: Gravity Rush 2 Review
As with previous generations, Sony's investment in first-party support is paying off several years into the generation. In the same way that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Killzone 2, and Demon's Souls took a few years to hit the PS3, the PS4 is now being swarmed with attractive titles across many genres.
If this is how two commonly overlooked titles can perform, we can only imagine how Nier: Automata, Persona 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, and other PS4 exclusives coming this year will fare, let alone the dozens of major multiplatform titles. And, of course, Resident Evil 7 comes out next week. This could just end up being 12 months for gamers to remember for a long time, especially if they own a PS4.