Yakuza: Like A Dragon - How to raise Bond levels with Drink Links
One of the new mechanics of Yakuza: Like A Dragon is that you’re no longer adventuring alone. Ichiban will now be joined by three other party members at one time to help him out.
As you go through the story, you’ll notice a “Bond” meter appearing under your active party party members when you finish an enemy encounter. This is a new mechanic that ties into the new gameplay style, and it’s important that you keep an eye on it if you want to maximise your party.
The bond meter represents how close Ichiban is with his party members, and it goes up after every battle you take part in. As long as a party member is active in the party they'll receive bond points whenever you finish a battle. You can also increase the bond meter by participating in optional conversations, ordering food or participating in group minigames like going to a Cabaret club.
You’ll want to increase the bond meter for several reasons. Each party member has five bond levels to go up, and each time you increase that level they unlock more job change options and receive more experience points when not in the active party. Once you get to the last bond level, you’ll also unlock a trophy and a unique special move each party member can use with Ichiban.
If you're looking for a place to raise your bond level as fast as possible, look no further than the Sotenbori battle arena which you'll unlock as part of the story in Chapter 12. This arena offers 30 battles that can be replayed as much as you want, so if any of your party members are needing to level up or increase their bond meter, this is the best way of grinding out battles.
Once the bond meter is full, you need to activate a Drink Link in order to level it up and carry on with that bond. Drink Links are essentially like Social Links from Persona but instead taking place in a bar. To start one of these you’ll need to go to the Survive bar found in the Bar District. This location will be unlocked automatically in Chapter 4 where it becomes part of the story.
Talk to any one of your party members at the Survive Bar and if they’ve got the bond meter maxed out, this will start their Drink Link. Each character has five of these events and all you need to do for the first four is listen to their stories and offer them advice (with each option upgrading Ichiban’s personality meters). Unlike Persona, the conversation choices you're offered here don't matter all too much, as each choice will raise a different personality stat. Still, if you're aiming to upgrade specific parts of Ichiban's personality, try and answer accordingly.
After completing the first four drink links, you'll need to level the bond meter up one more time for the final one. The last Drink Link always features a battle to close off the side-story, but none of them are challenging enough to need planning for. Once you've finished the Drink Link, the associated party member will unlock a unique special move. These moves are heavy-hitting specials that you're really going to want to get before the last few chapters of the game really ramp the difficulty up, as they all deal really good damage.