Tip and tricks to help newbies get hype!
Hello and welcome, Persona newcomers, to the GoNintendo Beginner’s Guide to Modern Persona! With the Modern Persona games finally going multi-platform, that means a lot of new people are about to get their first taste of one of the world’s most revered RPG series. Coming October 21st is Persona 5 Royal, with Persona 4 Golden & Persona 3 Portable following on January 19th, 2023. I’ll be sure to update this guide with more specific tips for those titles when they arrive, so be sure to bookmark this for future help. For now, let’s stick to some general tips and Persona 5 Royal specific tips. Don’t worry, you won’t find any story spoilers here, so feel free to read on no matter your familiarity!
What does "Modern" Persona mean & what am I getting into?
Let’s start with a brief overview of the series since it will be new to most of you. The Persona series is a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series that started with “Revelations: Persona” in late 1996 for the PlayStation. Persona’s twist on the RPG formula was its focus on modern-day settings with a primarily high school cast that can negotiate, summon, and fuse demons to create Personas. The series’ stories and themes are primarily focused on the concept of “identity”, hence the name Persona.
There are six mainline games in the series, and they’re mostly split between Classic and Modern. Classic Persona encompasses dungeon crawling, negotiating with demons, and fusion. The Classic Persona games include Revelations: Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. Modern Persona games focus on a blend of dungeon crawling and socializing. The Modern Persona games are Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5. Each of the six games has a unique story and cast, but all of them take place within the same in-game universe. With the exception of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment being a direct sequel to Persona 2: Innocent Sin, along with games making small references to one another, you won’t be confused or lost playing one game before the others. This is of course only true when discussing the main six titles. Once you delve into the spinoffs, you’re asking for a lot more detail that this guide will not be covering.
Another thing to mention here is that these upcoming re-releases include additional features and content, as noted by their subtitles. Persona 4 Golden & Persona 5 Royal have additional gameplay improvements, more Personas, and more story content. Persona 3 is a bit of an oddball in this regard, as the original released in 2006 on the PlayStation 2, with a re-release on the same system in 2008 (Persona 3 FES) and a second re-release in 2009 for the PSP (Persona 3 Portable). FES added similar updates like Golden & Royal, while Portable removed the extra story and 3D overworld, but added the option of controlling your party members in battle as well as being able to play as a female main character, complete with unique social interactions and vice-versa. There’s debate on which version of Persona 3 is the better version, and while they have pros and cons, I believe Persona 3 Portable to be the much more accessible game due to its scaled-down nature and gameplay more suited to RPG newcomers.
This rundown was mostly meant as a crash course on the basic structure behind the games and a little info about the naming. It’s by no means the full story, but hopefully you understand the series a bit more. Regarding the guide itself; I’ll try my best to help you through the basics of the Modern games so you as the newcomer will be better equipped to enjoy them on your own. This isn’t a day-to-day breakdown of every in-game action you should take to get “the perfect run.” I’ll break down the core gameplay loop, general Modern Persona tips and tricks, and then some specific Persona 5 Royal info to help newcomers. Now then, let’s get things started!
The Basics of Socializing and Combat
This is the breakdown of Modern Persona. As stated earlier, Modern Persona focuses on the blending of dungeon crawling and turn-based RPG battles with character building and socializing. “Oh wonderful guide maker, please explain why I must socialize?” Here’s the beauty of Modern Persona’s gameplay systems: the games are about managing an in-game calendar system, as spending time socializing directly affects your dungeon crawling and RPG battles. In P3P and P4G, these social elements are called Social Links, and in P5R they are called Confidants. Each one corresponds to a different Arcana that represents the different categories of Personas in the games. As you spend time with your social partners, you rank up their Social Link/Confidant, which provides bonus experience when fusing new Personas of those same Arcana.
Let me give an example: Let’s say I want to fuse the Persona “Jack Frost,” who is under the Magician Arcana. I could just fuse two of my current Persona, make Jack Frost, and be on my way. But instead, let’s say I choose to hang out a few times with my Social Link or Confidant that represents the Magician Arcana first. Now my Magician Arcana is, for example, Rank 3. If I go to fuse Jack Frost with Magician Arcana being a higher rank, that grants me bonus experience points which will net Jack Frost additional stats or skills for use in battle. So now the gameplay loop is building up your social Ranks and then utilizing that bonus experience to maximize your Persona loadouts.
This leads into one of the most prominent questions people have about Modern Persona: “What if I mess up and fuse the wrong thing?” Here’s the thing; there’s well over 100 Persona per game, so you don’t have to worry about maximizing your socializing and dungeon crawling right away, or even on your entire first playthrough. I always tell first-time players to do what interests them the most. Hang out with the characters you like and ignore the ones you may not have interest in. I speak from experience when I say that your game won’t be dead because you didn’t hang out with Jeff a few times (Jeff isn’t a real character). There are many in-game systems to help manage your Persona too, so you shouldn’t feel pressured about “doing it right.” Just balance out your player Persona and the party’s Personas, you’ll be just fine.
Speaking of your party, here’s something to keep in mind. The Classic Persona games allowed all party members to carry multiple Personas, but in the Modern games that ability is only available to the main character. That simplifies the gameplay a bit, since you don’t have to focus on micromanaging so much. Each party member has a specific set of skills and abilities they learn with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. There are probably builds for the characters that are considered the best, but realistically, it’s harder to mess up your party skills than it is to do it well. Does your party member have “deal light Wind damage to 1 foe”? Maybe it’s fine to replace that when you unlock “deal medium Wind damage to 1 foe.”
This leads me to the next element to discuss; the battle system. Modern Persona is a fairly straightforward turn-based RPG. Each party member gets a set of magic and attack-based skills for use with their Persona, in addition to the character’s weapon. Each Modern Persona changes them up slightly, but there’s enough types to keep you guessing. Early game enemies will typically be weak to what you’d expect based on appearance, but later enemies will require you to guess a bit more, or they may not have any weaknesses at all. That’s the whole deal with the battle systems in Modern Persona; much like Pokemon or Final Fantasy X, exploiting enemy weaknesses are crucial to winning. Exploiting an enemy weakness or landing a critical hit will knock down the target and get you “1 More.” This allows that current character to essentially have another turn, and in-turn, leads to the real game. You could spend a turn healing an ally but maybe the current character could exploit the weakness of an enemy and then use their 1 More to heal the injured ally, netting you more damage against the enemy in addition to the heal. You can have as many “1 More”’s as long as you’re able to keep it up, so feel free to consider them as much as possible. Pressing your advantage is the game within the game!
Tips For Socializing - Not Guaranteed To Help In Real Life
As stated earlier, socializing with your in-game cohorts to raise your Arcana ranks will grant you bonuses when creating new Personas through fusion. I put out the call on Twitter for questions, and there were quite a few related to the calendar system, socializing, and “maximizing” your run to avoid missing content. I’ll try to answer these a bit later as best as I can, but for now I’ll be giving tips about socializing.
Tip 1: Try focusing on only 2 or 3 Social Links/Confidants at a time. Choice paralysis is very much something I hear a lot about from newcomers, so try not to overwhelm yourself. The games may introduce numerous Social Links/Confidants at a time, but it’s okay to just focus on a few. You don’t even need to get them to max before moving on to another one. That leads to the next tip..
Tip 2: With very few exceptions, you do not need to reach max rank (10). If you’re not enjoying a story or character, it’s usually okay to move on. I typically recommend that if you want to be “balanced,” then get a Social Link or Confidant to Rank 4 or 5 before moving on. I can’t stress this enough - don’t force yourself. If you want to move on to a different person, then do it. Jeff (still not a real character) won’t be the determining factor for the next boss, promise. That being said…
Tip 3: As I said, there are a few exceptions about not needing to reach max rank. These are ones that I highly recommend maxing out because you get extra scenes and gameplay. As stated at the top, I won’t be spoiling anything story related, so all I’m going to tell you is what Arcana you should keep in mind. You’ll have no context for who you are talking to until you meet them in your playthrough.
Tip 3 (continued): I will say, the special things you get from maxing those out is different depending on the game. In P3P and P4G you get some extra scenes, but in P5R, maxing those out gets you an entire new semester with more story. I will say this: do not stress about finishing them as soon as possible. If you see they’re available, spend time with them. Their availability isn’t as frequent as others, so take your time and when you see the chance, remember you’ll have plenty of time to max them out. In fact, the last two ranks of Justice in P5R will just be given to you if you reach Rank 8, so keep that in mind.
Tip 4: This specific tip only applies to P4G and P5R. Hanging out with your party members will net you additional options in battle. There’s never a moment you’re forced to use specific party members, so feel free to focus on your favorite friends and make them battle-hardened masters. They can assist by offering follow-up attacks that knock down enemies, healing ailments, and other beneficial effects.
Tip 5: When hanging out with the different Social Links and Confidants, you will be prompted to respond. You typically get two to four choices, and there’s a secret to them. The correct answer gives you “points” towards that character’s social rank, making it easier to reach new ranks. Those points aren’t a visible stat, but selecting the correct responses will show you a small musical note animation. The number of music notes corresponds to the points you gain, +1, +2, and +3. As to which responses are the correct one, it’s seemingly random. Sometimes the characters want to know what you legitimately think and sometimes you gotta give them some tough love. The responses themselves are the same from playthrough to playthrough, and there are guides online to the correct responses, but on your first playthrough you probably aren’t going to get them all, nor do you need to. That’s okay, as you can still net yourself a few bonus points… How?
Tip 6: Remember how I mentioned that Persona are categorized into different Arcana? If you are carrying a Persona of the same Arcana as the character you’re spending time with, you get bonus points when you select the correct responses during conversations. So all +1 answers become +2, and all +2 answers become +3. Regular +3 answers don’t change, though. You don’t need to have the Persona equipped, as just having it in your stock gives you bonuses, and the game will let you know about it! You’ll see a prompt along the lines of, “Because you have [Persona], you will get along better with [Character].” Each rank requires a certain amount of points, so getting those bonus points makes reaching subsequent ranks easier.
Tip 7: There’s another small element to this system that I haven’t mentioned until now because, in all honesty, it isn’t as vital as it may seem. Starting with P3 and continuing until P5R, the player character has Social Stats like Courage, Kindness, Knowledge, Understanding, and many more. How do you raise these? Studying, saying certain things in conversations, or even taking on food challenges. These aren’t vital to beating the game, but they’re something to keep in mind as some minor dialogue choices will be inaccessible. In other words, don’t stress about it. There will be times you must obtain a specific rank to progress certain Social Links or Confidants, but the game will tell you what rank or social stat you need to progress.
Exhausted from socializing? Good, because now it’s time to fight various monsters, deities, and demi-gods in the form of Shadows. Shadows are the negative aspects of humanity given form, and they’re what you’ll be battling in the Modern games. These malignant manifestations have various weaknesses, resistances, and skills that you’ll need to figure out through classic trial and error gameplay.
Tips For Battling - Might Not Stop The School Bully
Each battle with unknown enemies will mean it’s time to throw out different Persona skills to try and discover any potential weaknesses, and then exploit them. I gave a broad overview already, but I’m going to give a few more tips about battling in the Modern games. Hopefully you will be able to implement them in your early game strategy because, truth be told, early game Modern Persona is usually the hardest. Your lack of options drives you to think harder about each move you choose. Here’s a quick breakdown on the types of attacks you’ll encounter in the games before we jump right in:
Tip 1: Try all your skills to learn as much as you can, as the games will keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Start with your Physical attacks and then try each of your elementals. Once you find a weakness, generally try to focus on using that to knock down the enemies and get “1 More” so you can keep up the advantage. That being said, as long as they don’t reflect your move, try for Physical attacks occasionally for a chance at Critical Hits, which also net you “1 More”.
Tip 2: Early game enemies are usually weak to whatever you think they would be based on appearance or skill set. Enemy using Ice skills? They’re probably weak to Fire. Enemy coated in Fire? They’re probably weak to Ice or Wind. It’s not always a guarantee, but for the first dungeon or two, the player will be given a relatively easier lineup of enemies to help ease you into the system.
Tip 3: This is better for after the early game, but since the main character is the only one who can use multiple Personas, use them to fill in the gaps of your coverage. If you have party members with Fire, Electric, and Wind skills, then use the player Personas to cover things like Ice or Bless.
Tip 4: This is one I can’t stress enough because this is a literal game-changer in Modern Persona games - use support skills. These include buffing your party’s attack, defense, or agility or debuffing those on the enemy side. When you fuse and create new Personas, you’re able to make them inherit support skills, so having a mixture of attacking and supporting Personas is the way to go. Don’t worry about always having buffs on, but during later boss fights or tough enemy encounters, they will really help out.
Tip 5: Eventually try to have at least one Persona in the main character’s lineup for healing. You’ll have items that anyone can use, but it helps save resources if you can pop a heal using a Persona. Relying on just one of your party members to be the sole healer is going to get you blown up.
Tip 6: This is something I mentioned in the overview earlier, but don’t forget to try and get “1 More”s whenever you can. Instead of just immediately using an item to heal an ally on your turn, you could get a “1 More” first by exploiting a weakness if possible and then use the heal. You don’t always need to try this because it depends on how your team is doing and where you are in dungeons. It’s free damage, though, so to help optimize your battle strategies, try to throw those in every so often.
Tip 7: Don’t worry about rushing through dungeons. You do have an in-game time limit, but just make sure to beat the boss before the limit. Each dungeon should take about 4 to 6 visits/in-game days and you can spread those out. You’ll have numerous save slots so maybe just cycle through 4 or 5 save files. If you feel like you can’t beat a boss, reload a previous save and do some extra work. On top of that, P4G and P5R have a fail-safe in place where they offer the option to rewind a week if you get a Game Over. Very helpful for bosses if you’re feeling ill-prepared.
Tip 8: This mostly applies to P4G and P5R since their deadlines work differently, but here’s the deal. Beating the boss before the deadline doesn’t fast-forward the story. There were quite a few times I heard about newcomers that thought they had to optimize their time because they assumed beating the boss would skip to the deadline, despite the games never saying that. Once you beat them, it’s all free time for you to socialize, do part-time jobs, or raise your social stats.
Tip 9: Once you have a good amount of in-game money, get a couple items for ailment healing. Skills to heal those aren’t the most plentiful, so having items that every party member can use to help recover ailments is a must. I’d recommend a minimum of 5 for each type of ailment healing item whenever you’re about to go dungeon crawling. Describing each and every ailment will take time, but here’s what they are and how they work in each game:
Persona 3 Portable Status Changes:
-Poison: Deals damage every turn - 20% of max HP. Cannot KO character. Does not go away after battle.
-Charm: Has a chance to assist the enemy either by healing the enemy, skipping the afflicted’s turn, or attacking allies.
-Panic: Unable to use Persona. Higher chance to get hit by criticals.
-Rage: Attack power doubled, but defense drastically lowered. No direct control of party member.
-Fear: Small chance of skipping a turn or leaving the battle all together. Cannot be brought back. Higher chance of getting hit by criticals.
-Distress: Cannot evade. Higher chance of critical hits and being hit by Light & Dark spells.
-Down: Cannot evade and being hit once more can cause Dizzy.
-Dizzy: Cannot evade. Character will skip a turn.
-Freeze: Cannot evade. Critical hits more likely.
-Shock: Cannot evade. Critical hits are almost guaranteed.
Persona 4 Golden Status Changes:
-Poison: Deal damage every turn - 10% of max HP. Damage dealt by character lowered.
-Silence: Unable to use Persona.
-Panic: Chance of skipping turn, throwing away money, do nothing, or attack allies.
-Rage: Double attack power, halved defense & agility but cannot be controlled or use Persona.
-Fear: Skips turn or withdraws from battle. Cannot be brought back.
-Exhaustion: Loses SP every turn. Damage take x1.50
-Enervation: All stats halved and cannot use follow up skills.
-Down: Cannot evade and being hit once more can cause Dizzy.
-Dizzy: Cannot evade. Character will skip a turn.
Persona 5 Royal Status Changes:
-Down: Cannot evade. Damage take x1.25
-Burn: Take damage after taking an action. 10% of max HP. Wind and Nuclear resistance nullified.
-Freeze: Unable to take action. Physical, Gun, and Nuclear resistance nullified.
-Shock: Unable to take action. Can be obtained by physically attacking a Shocked enemy. Physical, Gun, and Nuclear resistance nullified.
-Dizzy: Accuracy greatly reduced. Being hit by a physical attack removes ailment.
-Forget: Unable to use Persona. Being hit by a physical attack removes ailment. Psychic and Electrical resistance nullified.
-Sleep: Unable to take action. Restores 10% HP and SP every turn. Being hit by a physical attack removes ailment.
-Confuse: Random chance of throwing away money or item. Psychic, Wind, and Gun resistance nullified.
-Fear: Chance of taking no action or flee from battle, no way to return to battle. Psychic and Ice resistance nullified.
-Despair: Unable to take action. Loses 5% of SP. Character will be incapacitated after 3 turns. Psychic and Curse resistance nullified.
-Rage: Attack power doubled. Defense and Agility halved. Cannot be controlled. Psychic and Fire resistance nullified.
-Brainwash: Chance of healing enemy, attack allies, or use support buffs on enemies. Psychic and Bless resistance nullified.
-Hunger: Attack power greatly reduced.
Tip 9 (continued): There’s a few more ailments in Persona 5 Royal, but they are only in specific battles and I don’t want to spoil them. The ones I detailed are the ones you’ll primarily encounter with a bit of information about what they do. Be sure to come back to this page if you need a reference, as memorizing all of them can be tough.
There’s a few more I could go over but I think I’ve covered the big ones. Now that we’re done with more general tips and tricks, it’s time to cover game-specific tips. As mentioned earlier, I’ll stick to only Persona 5 Royal for now, but be sure to bookmark this guide for Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable guidance when they launch on January 19th, 2023!
Tips For Persona 5 Royal - Part of a Complete Breakfast
Tip 1: While P3P and P4G keep things relatively simple with Social Links mostly offering only the experience bonuses for fusions, each Confidant in P5R gives you a unique benefit. The Sun Arcana allows you to siphon more money and items from enemies in battle, the Temperance Arcana allows you to have some extra time during school and after dungeon crawling, and Moon allows party members not in battle to gain experience. There’s many more, and each of the effects gets stronger the more you rank up those Confidants. Starting the Moon Confidant will only let out-of-battle party members gain a small percentage of the experience points, but when you max it out, they’ll gain 100% of the experience that in-battle members get. The ones I mentioned are a few I personally found most beneficial, but there’s definitely more. I recommend focusing on the Confidants you find beneficial, because there’s a lot more than just those three. Experiment and discover!
Tip 2: There’s a lot of ways to earn money in P5R. Part-time jobs, winning battles, selling materials, etc… All that considered, I’m going to tell you now that I believe part-time jobs in P5R to be near worthless. The pay you get is so dismal, and you get far more from battles or material selling. P5R brings back a nifty little mechanic from the Classic Persona games; Negotiation. If you knock down all the enemies in a battle, you get the opportunity to attack them, ask for them to join you, or ask them for items/money. With money specifically, you can exploit it by almost always asking for money once or twice, choosing to attack them, and finish the fight for more. Money will be a bit tight at the start, but by the mid-late game money will be no object.
Tip 3: In P5R you can go to the movies, read books, and, if you can find the means to do it, play off-brand classic Famicom games. They’re all for raising your social stats, but to unlock those options I recommend exploring the city and seeing what places you can find. Finding new places opens up fast travel locations like stores, restaurants, theaters, and way more. There’s even a library in the school that has books based on the party’s Personas. These raise your social stats, so definitely look around and see what you can find.
Tip 4: There are the main dungeons in P5R, but there’s also a side dungeon called Mementos. Smash Bros fans may recognize the name, but Mementos in P5/P5R is nothing like it’s Smash cameo. Normal dungeons are shorter, more stylized romps, while Mementos is one long dungeon with multiple sections. You can’t beat it all in one go, so take time to explore it. It will definitely benefit you to reach the end. Along the way you’ll collect in-game stamps which you can use for bonus experience, items, and money when in Mementos. You’ll even encounter Shadows exclusive to Mementos which will help diversify your fusions. In P5R there are also side-quests that will require you to go to Mementos, some of which you will obtain from your Confidants in order to reach the end of their ranks. My only tips for Mementos’ side-quests is to try and have four to eight saved up, and then do them all in one go. This reduces the amount of time you spend going in there.
Tip 5: The multi-platform release of P5R has the exact same content as the original PlayStation 4 release. That being said, there’s one boon for the new release; all of the DLC they put out for the PlayStation 4 version. The DLC is not anything significant like new story content, but instead, costumes for the party, some accessories that give more unique benefits like experience multipliers, a few challenge battles, and some special Personas. Those special Personas are something to keep in mind because they’re extremely powerful, given to you for free, and just having access to them changes a lot of the calculations used for Persona fusing. For your first playthrough I would not recommend using them. P5R has difficulty options and you can lower the difficulty at any time, but having a one-hit kill Persona to wipe out everything sort of removes most of the challenge. Maybe use them for a late-game fusion or something, but they can really be a double-edged sword for combat.
Tip 6: P5R has a special battle mechanic not in any of the other games: Baton Pass. If you get a “1 More” you are able to “pass it” to another party member, essentially giving them your “1 More”. The beauty of this is that you can keep passing it up to 3 additional times, essentially giving everyone in your current party “1 More.” Each pass comes with a buff to damage dealt, and you even get small heals to your HP and SP. Since the subsequent passes are all from that original “1 More,” that means once you finish a full sequence, it will just go to the next party member’s turn. Utilizing Baton Passing is vital for maximizing damage. For example, if your enemies are a group weak to Gun damage, have each character pop one shot into one enemy, then Baton Pass it, have the next person do that same, and when it reaches the last person, have them use one of their biggest damage dealing attacks. This will have an intense multiplier by that point.
Conclusion - You feel ready to face other worldly threats and discovering your true self?
Well then, that was certainly a lot, huh? There’s plenty more I could go over, like good Personas to make or what to do against certain bosses, but I wanted to leave things mostly vague so you can still have your own experience. These are tips and tricks to guide you through the core experience, but I want you to play the game your way, because there’s no wrong way to enjoy Persona. That goes for all six of the mainline games, not just the modern games. Each game is truly something special and while everyone has their preferences, I don’t think there’s a bad way to start your own Persona journey.
I hope those of you that start with Persona 5 Royal continue that journey through not just Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable, but even the Classic Persona games! Each and every one will offer an experience unlike one another. I’ve been a fan of the series since 2010 when my cousin got me a copy of vanilla Persona 4 on PlayStation 2, not knowing what it was. It went on to become not just my most beloved game of all time, but it changed who I am as a person. P2IS became a distant second after having played a couple other games. That’s the beauty of the two sides of the series, they may be different, but they’re all so special and lovable in their own ways.
Not everyone will love what I love, and I know some will even dislike these games, and that’s okay! That said, if I can help anyone at least try to get into the series in any way at all, I will leap at the opportunity. That’s exactly what this guide is for! I hope this helps all the newcomers out there, especially those who submitted questions on Twitter when I asked. Sharing something this special to me means the world. If any of you newbies still have questions, please feel free to contact me on Twitter with your questions and I’ll gladly answer anything! I’ll also take any critiques of the guide. Maybe something I could add or change. Please let me know what you think, and enjoy your Persona journeys no matter what platform you start on! When more platforms get amazing games, everyone wins!