Considering its past two games, we can count on the Persona series having entertaining characters, funky artwork, fun gameplay, and catchy music. There’s a reason why this series is so popular, and why so many people are totally psyched about Persona 5’s release this September.
We’ve identified two primary gaming mechanics whose development will benefit Persona 5. As with any new installment in a series, and with any new game, in general, there need to be technical improvements from what came before. Persona 5 is no exception. Here are two main gameplay elements that should improve with the next installment.
Less tedious dungeons
So far this one looks to be very promising from the gameplay trailers and screenshots. Because as much as I enjoyed kicking ass with my slew of personas, I just loathed the leveling up after a certain point.
In Persona 3, I’m sure it probably happened after level 100 when I realized it wasn’t stopping there. Doubly so when I reached floor 200 and it still didn’t end. Even though the color scheme changed and the stairs looked a bit different every 30 levels or so, they just dressed up the fact that I was plowing through the same long hallways until I reached the next floor.
In Persona 4 there was a least a little change in scenery with each new dungeon instead of just going up that damn tower over and over and over again, but each new dungeon was still basically the same layout with new carpet and doors and more difficult monsters. And while each dungeons only had around 10 levels, give or take, in order to be ready for the boss at the end, the player would have to replay those floors three different times, so we’re going up and down stairs as many times as we did it Persona 3.
Leveling up is just fine — I’ve played enough JRPGs to actually enjoy it, especially when I’m powerful enough to satisfyingly dominate the bosses— but the tediousness and boring layout of going into these dungeons and towers is even worse when, because of the way the Persona series is set up to schedule your time each month in order to progress in all aspects of the game, we’re giving up an opportunity to do literally every other fun activity in the game in order to advance in battle.
In other RPGs, there’s never really a give-or-take in deciding to level up. On the way to some town, on a whim, you decide to level up, but after 10 minutes, you decide that’s enough and continue on your way. In the Persona series, you have to commit to leveling up because as soon as you come back from the world of shadows, be prepared to just go to bed because your character can’t do anything else for the rest of the day.
This kind of gameplay locks us in to leveling up. This may be fine for some players — it depends on what kind of RPG player you are — but for a lot, especially modern gamers that are used to not having to level up, it’s a bit of a downside. This portion of the game wouldn’t have become so stale after dungeon number five or floor 186 if it wasn’t so boring and so rigid. This type of system becomes very claustrophobic. You can’t have both in RPGs. If the battling schedule is rigid, don’t make the player dread it, and if the setting is boring, don’t force the player to chug through it for longer than they want to.
Luckily, it’s looking like the battling is going to take away the boring portion. We get to walk through paintings, jump on unsuspecting enemies to get an advantage in battle, and turn into mice to scurry around just to name a few bits and bobs in the trailer. That doesn’t sound boring in the slightest. I will happily relinquish days I could gaining charisma or joining the soccer team in order to explore that world.
Social links impacting main story
The social links are a very entertaining and integral aspect of the Persona series which has kept fans of the series around and bringing in more to the series. The interaction between characters first appeared in Persona 3 where the main character could become friends and eventually date the females of the game, whether from the party or school. In Persona 4, that changed to all members of the group, including the men, as well as more minor characters around school and town.
While Persona 4 did improve on the aspect of the social links and gave the player more options, outside of the completion of a social link where your party’s persona evolves, the social links seemed pretty divorced from the main story. It doesn’t really matter who you become friends with, who you romance, or who you leave at one of two hearts. There is always a separate scene outside of the main storyline that your characters have, but as soon as its over, it’s back to default dialogue. So hopefully there’s at least a sentence or two that changes during the story that reflects the choices you make during your free time.