It's fair to say Yakuza 7 opting for turn-based combat came as a pretty big surprise earlier this year. Now there's an ever bigger surprise: former series protagonist Kiryu Kazuma has been revealed to be returning for the sequel.
While Yakuza 6: The Song of Life rounded out Kiryu's run as series protagonist last year in 2018, it seems like he'll play some sort of role in Yakuza 7, or Yakuza: Like a Dragon in the West, when it releases next year. You can see the full 10-minute Japanese trailer below, in which Kiryu appears right at the very end.
The person Kiryu's squaring off against? That's Ichiban Kasuga, the new protagonist for Yakuza 7. Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has been adamant about Kiryu being finished as the protagonist of the Yakuza series, and naturally we assumed that this meant Kiryu wouldn't feature in Yakuza 7 at all (especially with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life wrapping things up so neatly for the former protagonist).
When USgamer spoke to longtime Yakuza producer Daisuke Sato earlier this year at Gamescom, he did reveal that we should probably expect some former characters of the Yakuza series to make an appearance in the new game in 2020. Just because Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has moved on to a new protagonist, doesn't necessarily mean that other established characters like Majima or Daigo won't be returning.
It seems like new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga will be coming to blows with Kiryu in the new game. It's pretty safe to assume from the trailer that we'll be seeing Ichiban in two different time periods in Yakuza 7. We'll see Ichiban as a young Yakuza, and then as an older, more seasoned veteran. It's in this latter time period, in the present day, where he'll be fighting Kiryu Kazuma.
Yakuza 7, or Yakuza: Like a Dragon as it's being called in the west, releases on PS4 only in January 2020, in Japan. Right now, we only know that it'll be releasing at some point later in the year in the west.