The Persona series is full of complicated mechanics and systems to master, and players will spend hours making constant choices related to combat and forming social links. But before you even get started in Persona 3 Portable, the game will ask you to choose between playing as a male or female protagonist. While there are some similarities between the two paths, each protagonist has unique experiences that the other does not have access to — and the game doesn’t tell you this beforehand. Here is a guide to help you decide if you should play as the male or female protagonist in Persona 3 Portable.
Why you should play as the male protagonist in Persona 3 Portable
In its original release for PlayStation 2, Persona 3 had only one protagonist. Like the rest of the modern Persona games (4 and 5), players could only play as a male protagonist. With Persona 3 Portable, those who have never played the game might want to consider playing as the male protagonist to experience the game’s original narrative.
When choosing protagonists, the game even encourages newcomers to choose the male protagonist because he’s usually considered the canon hero for the game’s story. Later games in the series only refer to the male protagonist, like in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
A big part of the Persona DNA that 3 introduced to the series is the presence of deep “Social Links.” Playing as the male protagonist will let you max out social links to the point of starting a romance with certain female NPCs in the game. You can only romance women as the male protagonist.
Mechanically, there are a couple of differences between the two but nothing major in combat. So, if you want to play through the game once and experience the “true” version of the game then choose the male protagonist.
Why you should play as the female protagonist in Persona 3 Portable
When choosing protagonists at the start of the game the menu describes the female protagonist's path as for veterans of Persona 3 who want a new perspective.
The biggest change that comes with the female protagonist's path is the ability to romance male NPCs. So, if you want to romance Akihiko (who wouldn’t), then you need to play the female protagonist. The added benefit of the female protagonist is that all social links in the game are more fleshed out.
Playing as the male protagonist does not let you form social links with your male party members. The female protagonist can form social links with both male and female party members as well as romance some male NPCs. There are a few characters exclusive to each protagonist as well. One is Saori, whose social link can only be experienced by the female protagonist and is one of the best side stories in the game.
An aesthetic reason to play as the female NPC is that the game gives her some adorable outfits, with festival days being especially cute. While not reason alone to play as the female protagonist, it doesn’t hurt.
Both the female and male protagonists are silent, however, they each have a unique personality that still comes across. The male protagonist has a more depressed somber vibe overall, which does fit with the narrative of Persona 3. if you want to feel a little more cheerful and fun, pick the female protagonist who carries an air of joy throughout the game that feels refreshing.
Choosing between the male and female protagonist ultimately is down to personal choice, but a good decision maker is to play the male protagonist if you want the “vanilla” Persona 3 experience and to play the female protagonist if you want to invest as much time as you can in social links.
Persona 3 Portable launches on January 19, 2023, for PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.