Sunday, 24/9/2017 | 8:28 UTC+0

Persona 5: 11 tips before you play

Persona 5 is a role-playing game about breaking into physical manifestations of people’s darkest desires. It’s also a game about getting good grades, making friends, working part-time jobs, improving yourself, and taking care of your plants over the course of a year in the life of a Japanese teenager.

To call the game sweeping is an understatement; even if you sink dozens of hours into the story, you’ll still be scratching its surface. It can feel overwhelming to start — like deciding to finally read Moby Dick or watch every episode of Adventure Time. To help newcomers and veterans alike, I’ve put together a handy guide of all the tricks and tips I learned along the way.

Learn from my mistakes.

Don’t forget to use the game’s social features

Persona 5 has a few helpful social features that you can opt into every time you start up your game. There are the minor ones, like summoning a beatdown in a dungeon when an enemy is trying to flee, or seeing how other players choose to spend their days in game — great for pinpointing new characters to meet. But the best use of the feature is for pop quizzes, little moments in class when teachers will ask you the answer to questions about art, history, language, and other topics. With social features, you can tap the large pad on the PS4 controller to pull up the percentage of players that chose each answer; usually the majority answer is the correct one.

Some of these questions are easy. There are references to Personas, or basic facts you can Google in a pinch. Others are downright puzzling, like the origins of a Shogi piece name. You’re free to guess at these, but a whiff means you miss out on the ability to raise your knowledge social stat. A point here and there is nothing, but over the course of the game it can be the difference between you maxing all your stats and the social links you want… or not.

But, make sure you’re paying attention to these quiz questions in class. When it comes time for midterm exams and finals, you’re on your own.

Finish dungeons early

The game’s core dungeons need to be finished by a specific date, or you’ll suffer game-ending consequences. Clearing a palace is a multi-step, multi-day process that requires you to locate its treasure, send a calling card to its owner, and then return to enact your plan.

Deadlines are displayed on your in-game calendar, but it’s best to dig into palaces as soon as you can. You won’t be able to tell how big a dungeon is until you’re in the thick of it, and it may require some level grinding or unexpected puzzle solving. Shotgunning through a palace on the last possible day is a miserable experience that’s likely to end poorly. Pace yourself by taking breaks to work on your social stats or hang with your friends.

Plus, finishing a dungeon with lots of days to spare is a thrill. You can use all that free time to do fun stuff around Tokyo, and build relationships with friends.

Swap out your tired party members

Every palace has a series of safe rooms where you can save your game, chat with your party, or quick-travel to places you’ve unlocked. Your best line of defense against an unexpected party wipe is to save often. And if your character’s are low on SP (the precious fuel of most Persona abilities) remember to fast-travel to the dungeon’s entrance to swap-in fresh, fully powered teammates.

It’s also helpful to match the abilities of your teammates with the enemies in a dungeon. You can only bring four people into a dungeon at a time. So, if your enemies are weak to ice attacks, you will want to be sure to bring someone that deals in bufu skills. Your teammates tend to gravitate to one main spell type, and the main character’s ability to use multiple Personas means you’re unlikely to be without a basic arcana you need.

Don’t forget to use your sense skill

Lost? Make sure you’re using your sensing skills (holding L1) to highlight specific paths in each palace (marked by exclamation points). It’s also the best way to sniff out items to loot and sell later. The sense skill also works perfectly fine when you’re not in dungeons, highlighting places to visit and people to chat with.

Spend time in Mementos

Mementos is akin to Persona 3’s Tartarus, a randomized dungeon with unknown depths. You’ll occasionally be asked to come here to complete requests from the Phantom Thieves fan site. Those requests are worth completing, and sometimes they will help you progress specific social links. Make time for them, and be sure to reach the lowest level available between each dungeon. At the very least, Mementos is an easy place to grind for levels and additional Persona masks.

Visit the Velvet Room regularly

If you’ve played a Persona game before, you’ll be familiar with the Velvet Room, the go-to place to register, fuse, and recall Personas. You can fast-travel to the Velvet Room through various points in the city, or at dungeon entrances; visiting won’t cause time to pass in-game, either.

It’s easy to forget to stop by the Velvet Room to hang with Igor and the jailer twins. You can grab new Personas in palaces, and Igor isn’t the best company this time around. But fusion is still the most reliable way to unlock new and more powerful allies. The twins also have fusion side quests for you to do that are worth completing if you want to unlock every mystery the room has to offer.

Prioritize specific social links

Persona 5’s confidants offer different skills, abilities, or general bonuses, like extra time in class. Focus on starting links with all of your teammates to unlock their baton pass ability in battle, and then pick and choose early who you want to completely level. My personal favorites are the confidants relating to the Star and Temperance arcanas.

To maximize your time with each confidant, make sure you’re carrying a Persona of their arcana. So if you plan to spend time with Ann, who represents the Lovers arcana, you want a Persona that matches, like Leanan Sidhe.

Pay attention to gossip, and keep an eye out for part-time jobs

Every so often, you’ll overhear people chatting about specific characters or places. This is an easy tip-off to new confidants or locations to visit. You can pick up a few basic part-time jobs by reading the subway station pamphlets, but others will pop up as you open new areas. Part-time jobs can sometimes help tip you off to Mementos requests or new confidants.

Keep a healthy supply of books on hand

There are several places to settle down and read in Persona, like the library or the cafe you call home. Occasionally, you’ll get a free seat on the train — a free pass to read a book and raise one of your social stats.

You can find books in the library or pick them up at local bookstores. It’s worth checking back every so often to pick up new reads. The game also has a fair amount of magazines to breeze through; these can open up new places to visit.

Your map and calendar are great resources

Not only will your map allow you to fast-travel to areas you’ve already been to, it’ll keep a handy record of where confidants are and who’s ready to level up. Your calendar, meanwhile, will help you track when specific jobs are available, or when there are events. This is an easy way to plan ahead when you have dungeon raiding to do or specific things you don’t want to miss.

Make coffee

There are few items early in-game that allow you to recover SP, the stat that lets you use magic. Coffee is a free, albeit time-consuming, item you can bring into palaces. More SP equals a more effective way of defeating enemies and clearing dungeons without wasting time.

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