A lot of Persona 5 still remains shrouded in mystery despite the game releasing today in Japan with new news still trickling out. Many fans outside of Japan are dying to play the latest game, but some are worried that Persona 5 could go in a negative radical direction in certain areas of the gameplay. At TGS 2016, we got to got to experience Persona 5’s battling and dungeon crawling and honestly, it’s still fundamentally very similar to Persona 3 and Persona 4.
Just as Persona 4 built on Persona 3 by adding varied dungeons (instead of boring ol’ Tartarus) and added the ability to control all of your party members, Persona 5 keeps the core “One More” and Persona swapping system intact. In battle, you’ll still have the option to Attack and Guard or spend HP or SP to unleash attacks from your Persona. Despite not speaking a lick of Japanese, I knew exactly what I was doing because of my familiarity with the series.
There is a new form of attack though called “Gun.” Everyone that we got to control during TGS 2016 at least had some kind of Gun attack that they could use in battle. These attacks are extremely powerful, and can knock enemies down, but are limited by ammunition which doesn’t recharge at all at the end of battle. Strategically, you’d probably want to save these attacks for tricky spots with tougher floor enemies, or for burning down a boss.
Also we got to try out the “new” demon negotiation system which is a call back to the earlier entries into the series (pre-Persona 3 era). If an enemy is on its own, and weakened, there’s a chance that you can initiate a negotiation with it. By saying the right things, you can convince it to surrender which will end the battle, and award the protagonist with a new Persona. This appears to have replaced the Shuffle Time mechanic from Persona 4 which did not appear at all in my time with the game, but I wasn’t able to confirm that. It’s safe to assume at least though that the demon negotiation will be the primary way to acquire new Personas.
Dungeon crawling is also familiar but tweaked just like the battle system is. You’re still running around floors with enemies out in the open and just as in previous games, you can sneak up behind them to trigger a player advantage attack. A new mechanic which has been featured in a lot of Persona 5’s trailers are new interactive sections in the dungeons. For example, in the dungeon we had access to, which appeared to be based on some kind of museum heist theme, there were laser beam sensors all over that you had to either jump over or roll under.
If you get caught, a bar will start to fill up and each time you mess up, it will slowly tick up to 100 percent. In the demo at least, it filled up pretty slowly (only 5%) and dodging the beams wasn’t really hard, although maybe puzzles involving the mechanic will appear on harder floors. For science, I intentionally triggered the alarm which sounds at 100% and what happens is you are booted from the dungeon and are onto the next day. Apparently though, this wasn’t intended to be featured in the demo as a PR person from Atlus politely told me. I had less than a minute left with my demo, so we decided to call it there before I got sent to the Velvet Room jail to serve The Nose for all eternity.
Just as in previous entries, exploring dungeons is a major part of Persona alongside the social aspects of the game. So considering that, a lot of Persona 5 is going to feel very similar to Persona 4, with the added benefit of slick new visuals and a couple of new features.
All of those new features though slide in really nicely though without disrupting anything that makes Persona so addicting. Neither Persona 3 or 4 ever felt like a grind, so considering the added variety in battle and dungeon crawling that Persona 5 brings to the table, nor should this game. As long as the social aspects are up to snuff, Persona 5 should shape up to being everything fans could ever hope and dream of.