Rather than worrying about how this game will turn out, I’m back to being excited. Very excited.
I wasn’t going to write anything about Persona 5 until I actually got my hands on it, but the recent trailer has changed most of my expectations for the game. You can watch that right here:
Stylistically, I don’t think anyone expected something like this – it’s just so damn fabulous. The character designs are certainly Persona-ish, but the visuals of the 3D world – particularly with how characters models actually look – are very much like Catherine, another game made by the “Persona team.”
The location is also going to be Tokyo – specifically Shibuya, which is an understandable decision based on everyone’s superior fashion sense.
Besides the improved visuals of the PS3 and PS4, this looks like it will be very different from P3 and P4 (and by extension P2 and P1 as well) in plenty more ways. Which is great! One of my biggest issues with Persona 4 was that the gameplay was practically identical to P3, between Social Links serving the same purpose (with minor modifications) and the same general battle system, except easier.
Speaking of Social Links, there’s a chance that there won’t be any in Persona 5. During part of the trailer, the main menu is shown, and if you’ve played P3 or P4 before, you know that one of the options on the menu is Social Links (called Community in the Japanese version), where you can view your progress for each one individually. Well…
It’s not yet clear what the Cooperation option is all about, but it is very likely that it’s either a replacement for the Social Link system or something else entirely. While I’m fine with no Social Link system, it’s hard to imagine that they’d completely ax it, especially when the daily progression seems like it will remain.
While the battle system looks like it will be fairly similar – all-out attacks are back at least – there are a few evident differences with that side of the game. Unlike the separation that the Dark Hour and Midnight Channel had from the “real world,” the battle and exploration side of P5 seems to take place in the normal world. There’s likely some gimmick separating it, but the trailer didn’t offer any evidence.
Equipment is mostly the same, but with one distinct difference – characters have a gun plus another weapon. The guns seemed to be used for the all-out attack, but there wasn’t any indication of what the difference between ranged and melee weapons will mean during battles. I’d imagine there’s going to be some new way that physical attacks are handled. While P3 had slash, strike, and pierce attacks, and P4 had them all lumped together as a single attack type, character location or some other detail will likely affect how much damage you can deal with each, or perhaps how an enemy can react.
Actual navigation in the “dungeons” also looks massively different. Rather than an area where you just walk around without any substantial vertical movement, there’s going to be depth to the locations, and it looks like they may not be procedurally generated, which would make sense if everything does happen within the boundaries of the real world. There’s stuff like jumping between chandeliers, sneaking, etc. And instead of the black blobs for Shadows, it looks like they’re using actual enemy models in the environment. All of this comes together to be super cool and to give the environment far more detail and an actual sense of importance.
The new version of the Velvet Room was also shown in the trailer, and unlike P3’s elevator and P4’s limousine, this time is much different – it’s a prison. Igor is accompanied by what appears to be two young twins, so that should be interesting.
Story-wise, this looks like it will be extremely different from P3 and P4. (I’m hoping the story’s better than P4 too…) In those games, the stories got started with the characters reacting to events around them – in P3, the Dark Hour was there and the characters pushed to the top of Tartarus in the hope of stopping the Shadows, and in P4, the murders in Inaba started after the protagonist arrived and the characters worked to solve the case.
In P5, the characters seem to be acting on their own without a concrete battle laid out before them. Obviously, there haven’t been any major details on what the story’s about besides the general concept – characters fighting for the freedom, while simultaneously being pursued by the antagonists.
And it looks like the protagonist actually has a personality! Rather than being a complete self-insert character like P4’s protagonist, it seems like there’s more to the new guy than meets the eye, mostly as a result of the duality between his bland everyday appearance and his shit-eating grin during the more bombastic parts of the trailer. While the old teaser trailer made him out to be an apathetic silent character, this one completely usurps that notion.
You know that distinctive sound that’s made whenever characters summon their Personas in P3 and P4? If the last part of the trailer is any indication, the characters may literally turn into their Personas by bursting into flames. That’s certainly more interesting than P4’s lame tarot crushing. In the process, the protagonist’s eyes are yellow (like the eyes of the Shadows from P4), he bursts into flames, and then the Persona summoning sound can be heard. This is an awesome way to change things up, and I’m sure the reasoning will be worked into the story.
Instead of only the protagonist having the ability to wield multiple Personas, I’d imagine that this means that each character will have different Personas that they can utilize, but it’s hard to say based just on this trailer. It would be weird if the protagonists turned into a Persona like Cybele though. Or Mara.
With all the Persona spinoffs lately, I was worried that they were gearing up for P5 to follow right along with the pattern set by P3. If this trailer is anything to go by, I don’t think I need to worry much anymore, as this seems to be a huge step forward for the series, even if they do retain many of the mechanics. I absolutely cannot wait to play it.
But before I get too excited, it’s worth keeping in mind that the last game I was looking forward to this much was Mass Effect 3. And we all know how that turned out.