Persona 5 Royal - Changes and New Features
Persona 5 Royal has a multitude of new features, and hours of new content. The original game is already known for being a very long endeavor, and Royal only increases its length. It took me and PatronusLight 137 hours to finish our first Royal playthrough! It was an absolute joy returning to the world of Persona 5 again, and experiencing Royal’s new features for the first time. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in!
This isn’t really a review of Persona 5 Royal so much as it is an overview of the new features. The Persona games I’ve played (as of this writing: 3, 4, and 5) are some of my favorite games of all time, and Royal is now easily added to that list. I wanted to write this post to give my thoughts on the new features, and while this is by no means an exhaustive list and I’m sure I missed several things, I feel I’ve provided a good picture of how Royal differs and improves upon an already spectacular game. I won’t spoil anything about the original game or Royal, so whether you’ve played Persona 5 and just want to hear about what Royal has to offer, or you’re looking to play a version of Persona 5 for the first time, this is a safe post for you to read!
Refined and Expanded Combat
The combat has undergone several tweaks across the board to make it even more enjoyable, and even more stylish.
For one, the signature Baton Pass feature from the original game has been overhauled. Rather than unlocking by increasing your Confidant rank with a team member, it now starts unlocked for every party member automatically. Additionally, each character has a Baton Pass Rank, and as their rank increases they’ll deal even more damage after a Baton Pass, and even regain a bit of lost HP and SP when at Max Baton Pass Rank. I’ll cover how you increase Baton Pass Rank later on, but I really like this increased focus on Baton Passes. Lastly, if you manage to Baton Pass between all 4 members of your party, the final member will be able to use skills for 0 cost, incentivizing Baton Pass chains even further.
Another combat system that was present in Persona 5 but sees a much greater emphasis in Royal is the Technical system. When an enemy is afflicted with certain status ailments, following up with attacks of specific affinities causes increased damage, and knocks the enemy down more often. This is called a Technical. These were possible in Persona 5, and the combinations for them are the same here, but it seemed to me like the status ailments that lead to Technicals occurred far more often in Royal. These Technicals are especially encouraged against the new “Savage” enemies, which appear in the field with a fiery red aura, and usually don’t have any weaknesses. Against them, Technicals are your best bet to deal damage effectively, and to have the best chance at knocking them down to perform an All Out Attack.
One quick random note I want to mention, gun ammo refills after each battle. In vanilla Persona 5, your gun ammo only refilled after leaving a dungeon, or in rare circumstances, so guns had to be used much more sparingly. With gun ammo refilling after each battle, guns are much more viable, though running out of ammo during battle still can and will happen when using your guns. Still, it’s a nice change, and it helps in the early game especially when you most likely don’t have any Personas with gun skills yet and have to rely on your ammo supply in order to hit gun weaknesses on shadows.
Disaster Shadows are a special variant of normal shadows that appear randomly in battles. You’ll only ever encounter one in a given battle, and they usually appear alongside two normal shadows. Disaster Shadows explode when killed, causing damage to all other enemies based on how strong the attack that defeated them was. Unlike other shadows, they won’t attack you in battle - unless you attack first. If you attack a Disaster Shadow without knocking it down or otherwise incapacitating it, it will counterattack immediately, regardless of usual action order. I thought these new types of shadows provided a refreshing twist when they popped up from time to time, it was fun using their death explosion to defeat the rest of the enemies. They also drop better loot than normal shadows, so that’s another added benefit!
The last major addition to the combat system are Showtime attacks. These are powerful and flashy attacks where two specific members team up and attack an enemy together. They can only be used when an opportunity for them triggers on one of the involved characters’ turns. This happens randomly, but is more likely in several circumstances, like when Joker is low on health. You’ll automatically unlock more Showtime attacks as you progress through the game, and each one is as amazing as the last. These attacks really allow the characters to shine and play off of each other in wonderful ways. I really enjoyed these Showtime attacks! You can skip the animations for them, but I found myself watching them all the way through way more often than I expected simply because of how charming they were!
Of course, Personas are a large part of a Persona game, and Royal adds even more Personas. If you’re a Persona 5 veteran, you might notice most of the new Personas don’t appear until late in the game. There are a few sprinkled in prior to that though, and these were always cool to see. Having so many of the new Personas show up in the late game was pretty nice actually, it really helped give that part of the game a unique feeling. Some of these new Personas were ones I recognized from Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 FES, and those were cool to see return in Royal, but even cooler were the Personas that I’d never seen before, who were pulled from elsewhere in Shin Megami Tensei canon!
Speaking of Personas, they all have traits now, and these add even more flexibility to Persona builds. Like skills, traits can be inherited during fusion. A Persona can have only one trait, and during a fusion you get to choose between inherited the trait of one of the component Personas, or keeping the trait that the Persona you’re fusing would normally have. Traits vary in affect, Some reduce the SP cost of skills for a given affinity, others increase the power of attacks, and there are a variety of other helpful passive bonuses other traits provide.
Another new Persona-related feature: Fusion Alarms in the Velvet Room. These occur randomly after finishing a battle, and are more likely the more battles you fight without one occuring. Once a Fusion Alarm begins, you’re notified of it immediately, and it will last until you visit the Velvet Room. Fusion Alarms power up all the usual Velvet Room rituals. Personas fused during an Alarm will have better stats than normal. Personas will gain more experience when strengthened, and you get more powerful items from itemizing Personas. The catch with all of this is that accidents are more likely, especially after the first time using one of the rituals, or if a Persona that was fused during the current Alarm is involved. If you’re unlucky, you could even have an accident occur on your first ritual attempt during an Alarm. On the flip side, I don’t think accidents are possible when a Fusion Alarm isn’t in effect, which is a nice change. Also, if a fusion accident occurs when you use a Persona you just fused as one of the materials, it will get a random set of skills, and these are most likely going to be skills it wouldn’t otherwise learn. This was interesting to see a few times, but even more beneficial are strengthening accidents during a Fusion Alarm. These won’t give your Persona any experience, but they will increase its stats. If you have Personas at the max level, this allows you to power them up further even though they can’t level up any more!
Confidant and Palace Changes
A few existing Confidant abilities were tweaked a little. The only one I know for sure was changed is one of Ryuji’s higher rank abilities. Originally, it would automatically defeat weaker shadows and add them to your current Persona stock when ambushing them. In Royal, they’re automatically defeated when you dash into them instead of just ambushing, giving you more control of when to automatically defeat them. Also, you get money and experience from these automatic wins now! I’m pretty sure Ohya’s confidant abilities underwent changes as well, but I don’t remember exactly what she did in the original game.
Every Palace saw some sort of change, some larger than others. A lot of the time these changes involve reworked level design utilizing Joker’s new grappling hook. You can use this grappling hook on specific points around the Palaces to reach new areas. Some of these new areas involve the new collectibles in each Palace: Will Seeds. Each Palace has three Will Seeds, all of which are optional to collect. Some of them are off the beaten path while others are basically right next to the main path through a Palace. The benefit of collecting all three Will Seeds is pretty substantial. Doing so nets you an accesory that can only be obtained from that Palace’s Will Seeds. One of these in particular removes any weaknesses Joker’s Persona has. It’s almost overpowered to be honest, and I kept it equipped to Joker for almost the rest of the game after I got it.
Aside from the Will Seeds and grappling hook additions to Palaces, some of the more tedious puzzles from the original game have been streamlined in Royal. This really makes one of the mid-game dungeons more enjoyable! Every boss also has new or reworked phases. Every one of these plays directly into the bosses character, and they were all really nice changes to see. Unfortunately, the aforementioned mid-game dungeon that had its tedious puzzles fixed had its boss battle worsened in Royal. The new mechanics for that boss fight make it frustrating, which is a shame becuase the rest of the changes to that part of the game were wonderful.
Mementos has also been given an overhaul, featuring new music, collectibles, and the new character, Jose. Jose is a mysterious character interested in studying humans and gathering the flowers that appear around Mementos. You make a deal with him early on to collect flowers for him, and collect stamps he’s scattered throughout Mementos as well. In return, you can spend your flowers at his shop when he randomly appears on floors of Mementos. He sells some pretty nice items, and you’ll collect plenty of flowers just making your way through Mementos so there’s really no reason not to trade with Jose. Additionally, you can use the stamps you’ve collected to increase the amount of experience, gold, and/or items you get while in Mementos. Making full use of this is probably the best way to grind for those resources! I mentioned in passing earlier, but there’s new music in Mementos and this improves the area immensely. There was basically just a single song that played throughout all of Mementos before. Now there are several new tracks, each one a variation of the one before. In this way, the new music is similar to the Tartarus themes from Persona 3, and that’s a very good thing in my book!
There are many new things to do around Tokyo. Some of these are additions to existing areas, like the crosswords you can now solve some evenings at LeBlanc. Most of the new activities are in Kichijoji though. This is a brand new explorable area, and a large one at that. You can take your friends to Penguin Sniper to play darts or billiards, and the former is a new mini-game. It’s pretty fun, and uses the DualShock 4’s motion-sensing capabilities for aiming and throwing darts. More importantly, playing darts with teammates raises their Baton Pass Rank, and playing billiards after reading an in-game book will increase your Technical Rank to make your Technicals even stronger. You can also invite a friend to the jazz club for non-alcoholic cocktails and conversation, which will give their Persona some experience and provide a permanent HP, SP, or stat boost for them as well.
The Thieves Den exists across all your playthroughs, and serves as a chill hangout spot for you, the player, to relax. You can pop in for a quick break by choosing the Thieves Den option from the menu during your daily life free time. This is where you can view your Award progress, as well as listen to game music, view artwork, re-watch cutscenes, play the card game Tycoon, and put out decorations that your confidants will remark on. The Awards are pretty much supplementary trophies. You can easily get the platinum trophy for Royal before unlocking all the Awards. Award unlock status persists between playthroughs, so things like “enter a romantic relationship with all eligible confidants” can be pursued over as many or few playthroughs as you like. Each Award unlocked gives you P-Medals, which are the in-game currency used to unlock the aforementioned music, art, videos, and so forth in the Thieves Den. I could say a lot more about Tycoon, it’s a pretty addicting mini-game with rules that are hard to describe, easy enough to pick up, and difficult to master. There seems to be quite a bit of luck involved, or maybe we’re just particularly unskilled. You can play on three different difficulties, but the AI teammates still sometimes wiped the floor with us even on the easiest difficult, though sometimes it was the other way around. I really like the inclusion of the Thieves Den, it’s such a beautiful homage to all the wonderful stuff packed into Persona 5 Royal!
New Story Chapter
Now we move on to possibly the biggest addition to Royal, at least in terms of sheer content: the new story chapter. This consists of roughly an additional playable month of in-game days and a brand new dungeon, and showcases the two new characters, Dr. Takuto Maruki and Kasumi Yoshizawa. Each of them is a new Confidant to spend time with, which offer new and useful confidant abilities as you rank up with them. For example, one of the abilities you’ll get from ranking up with Maruki is “Flow,” which triggers randomly and gives you both Charge and Concentrate to more than double the damage of your next attack, and one of the abilities you get from Kasumi is “Chaînés Hook,” which allows you to use your grappling hook to ambush enemies from a distance and potentially start the battle with them dizzy or suffering from some other status ailment.
Both characters are introduced before the new chapter begins. Maruki’s introduction felt especially natural to me. If I hadn’t played Persona 5 beforehand, I probably would have thought his character was always in the game because his role as Shujin Academy’s counselor just makes so much sense. Kasumi’s introduction feels a little more out of place. She’s just sort of introduced and appears in random scenes from time to time. Neither character has much story significance until the new chapter, so introducing them well before it starts is an interesting choice.
But oh man, these new characters shine so brightly during the new chapter. I won’t include any spoilers here, but I love the new story segment and their roles in it are simply wonderful. Also, the new dungeon was so much fun! It’s full of new enemies, and great new songs.
So that’s that, my thoughts on all the new Persona 5 Royal features I had notes on. As I said earlier, this list is not exhaustive. There’s even more to Royal than what you see here, but I had to cut myself off somewhere! If you’re on the fence about getting it, hopefully this helped you decide one way or the other. I would recommend it for sure, whether you’ve played Persona 5 before or not!